Thursday, March 9, 2017

I Didn't Realize He Loved Me

by Danetta Kellar

This past weekend I attended a silent retreat at an old Abbey of the Order of St. Benedict. Tucked away in the wilds of Florida, the monastery stands beckoning gently to the reflective life, a life devoted to quieting one’s soul before God. I drove many hours to experience that solitude, to escape the noise of my life and listen for God. This is my meager attempt to describe the indescribable. God was waiting for me, and I am changed.

I sat on a grassy hillside, the wind whipping through my hair and making the trees clap. They must have been applauding the drama unfolding before them, a girl with all straight lines and tidy corners being completely undone, made into a beautiful mess. The undoing of perfectionism and performance has a rare beauty of its own. We received a standing ovation as creation witnessed my Lord’s disassembling of me.

Alone with the wind, the trees, and my Bible, I looked straight into the eyes of Love Himself and found that I never knew He loved me before that moment.

I thought I knew He did. The Bible tells me it is so. I have sung about it, studied it, taught it, even gotten a seminary degree in it. All the while, as the knowledge piled up, my self-worth grew bereft and bankrupt. Something was not connecting. It haunted me in the dark and quiet moments alone with my thoughts, my truth. Cognitive assent could not produce soul-living reality. 

As I learned more about His love, I grew more desolate inside. Why didn’t I feel loved? Why did I still hear the voices of Rejection and Abandonment, declaring my identity as one unlovable, resonating throughout the empty halls of my soul? 

How cruel is it that the voice of abuse and trauma can drown out the voice of Love most days, at least in the hearts of the broken and discarded? Why were those lying voices so much easier to feel and believe?

In desperation, I fled. I fled from the noise, the press of so many needful things. I ran to the hillside, hundreds of miles from home, to face God.

When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. John 21:4

In the dim light of my transformation from night to day, I did not recognize Him at first. My eyes were accustomed to darkness. I was distracted, laboring over the nets of my own making and mending, looking to my own efforts to sustain my life. If I am good enough, I will be lovable. If I perform well enough, I will be loved. With intense concentration, I worked, and worked, and worked.

Then I felt it. A tidal wave of Love so fierce it threw me on my back. I stared unblinking at the endless blue sky. His love was a power so furious that it reached me before I could see Him. I was immobilized. 

As I cried out garbled praise to the one who held such glory, He took my hand like a lover. The intimate conversation that followed in hushed and quiet tones restored my soul. He showed me everything in his fierce and fiery gaze of Love. I was consumed.

Before, I thought this journey in life was about my love for Him

I have taken great pains to love Him well. But my failures and unfaithfulness have laid me so low that my good intentions have born only the fruit of self-focus and narcissism, wrapped up nicely in a disguise of spirituality and godliness. My attempts to be good have only created distance between me and the liberating love my soul craves.

I know now that this journey is actually and truly about His love for me. All else is engulfed in that one startling Truth.

Get alone with God. Run to the mountains, flee! Go away to the hills and find solitude and silence. Disentangle yourself from the cluttering, clinging cares that make Love a concept and not a reality for you. Take time to listen to the Beloved. He has something very personal to say to you. Don’t miss it in the noise.

He loves you, and nothing else matters.



  1. Thank you, Danetta. Our very being cries for that which is pure. We find it this side of Eden only in the inspired voices of the prophets (I include the Psalms.) until we come to Jesus.
    Standing apart from him at a calm distance of two millennia, we're able to disentangle ourselves from the noise of life in order to see and sense HIM.
    In his presence, we trust ourselves to be transparent. As we grow in intimate trust of our Savior, this transparency can lead/inspire/whatever others to come to Jesus.
    We fear such openness b/c we know how awful we really are. Lacking that, we must do as you did, flee to the mountains, the side of the sea, the quiet places where it is only me ... and blessed Jesus, fully accepting.

  2. Samuel, your words ring like a prophet. Thank you for resonating with me in this beautiful place of solitude with the Lover of every part of us. Blessings!

  3. Danetta I absolutely love this. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I, too, have realized my need to for solitude with Jesus over the past couple of years and I try to take at least one retreat a year to connect to Him like you have. I remember the first time I did it and was so stunned when He told me I don't really know Him and I need to get to know Him. Like you, I have sung and taught about my Lord all of my life so I completely understand where you are here. Yes, you are so loved. Loved with an amazing everlasting love. Blessings, Marcie :-)

  4. Marcie, I am so thankful we are sojourners in this together. How much we do not know of our infinite God! May we both keep journeying deeper into knowing Him and His great love for us. Thank you for sharing. Danetta