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  • Katie Smith


Love ya.

I used to be a "ya" person. "Ya" is informal, slang, and by definition, lacks clarity. "Ya" is not a person. "You" are a person. You can hurt me; You can judge me; You can reject me, and You often disappoint me. "Ya" has never done any of those things.

I recently received an email with a "love ya," attached to it, and I remembered my own attachment to the two-letter word as a young adult finding my way. I would withhold the receipt and say, "love ya," through text or even in person. It felt nice and casual and left me less vulnerable. But why such a fear of vulnerability?

Even without stating the obvious: rejection, ridicule, and lack of reciprocation, there's still a question of "why?" Why fear these "R" words if LOVE denotes unconditionality?

Because..... we are not born with unconditional love. Maybe as mere infants our love is pure (though we can't speak then), but soon after, we attach conditions to all our affections. If you don't feed me, clothe me, respond well to my needs, and understand all my desires, then I'll decide you don't love me, so I can't love "you" correctly. Maybe I'll just love "ya" every now and again.

After Adam and Even questioned God's love, the vague "ya" entered the world and muddied the waters of trust and vulnerability. The reason Adam and Eve hid from God is because they felt "exposed." They felt naked and vulnerable, but their open nudity hadn't bothered them until they questioned God's love.

"But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'where are you?"' (Gen 3:9) Notice he didn't say "where are YA!"

We may think we are walking in the garden with God (whether our own version of Him or someone else's), we may even know God loves us to some degree. Still, we want to love everyone and everything without first knowing how to love.

We are covering ourselves up with the poorly made clothing of "ya." Just like Adam and Eve, we are embarrassed by our lack of trust and want to control who rejects us. In case God decides to reject us, we will renounce Him first. When in reality, He wants to redeem us. Through the selfless love of Jesus on the cross, we see that "we love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). He didn't receive any reciprocation. He was as vulnerable as it gets, which should prompt us to run unabashedly into his healing arms and love without vagueness or fear of vulnerability.

I distinctly remember meeting a woman in college who said, "I love you, and I'm praying for you." I felt stripped, naked, and vulnerable. I had only just met her! Why this heavy emotion? On the other hand, I felt refreshed by her sincerity and clarity. It was like I was permitted to use the correct pronoun I had been missing all those years.

That woman is still a part of my life today; I know she's a safe place to confess and confide because she cared enough to love me when I didn't love her. Her love stemmed from a place of godly concern, not just self-interest. Now loving "you" is the only place I know. It may put off many people as it once did me, but whether my love is reciprocated or not matters little. God's love fuels mine.

Recover "you" through His redemption. Vulnerability never looked so good.

~Carefully Careless

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