“Be still and know I am God.” We’ve likely heard that verse, but in our culture of to-do lists and commitments, family obligations, and chasing our dreams, it can be hard to know how and when to “be still.” Where do we start? What does it look like to “be still,” and what can God do in our lives when we choose to listen to His quiet whispers in this loud world that can make us feel like we have to do it all?
(in)courage exists as an online community committed to making safe spaces for women to connect over topics just like this one. Every Wednesday this month we’ll be sharing some of our stories about discovering the blessings of being still. We hope you’ll read along and then join us in a weekly Community Challenge geared toward discovering who God is calling us to love and some practical steps we can do together.
Do you really believe God loves you — not just tolerates you? When I ask this question to women who are exhausted from trying hard to be “good enough,” the reaction is usually tears springing to their eyes. I understand this response because it was my story for many years too.
Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that God simply “puts up with us” because He has to. We’re the naughty children who drive Him crazy, but He has to be our parent anyway. I believe at the root of every human quest for perfection is a misunderstanding of God’s love for us. Our hearts are made for love, and if we don’t think we can freely receive it, then we’ll try to earn it.
And as long as we’re trying to earn love, we can’t be still inside because we are afraid. Understanding God’s love for us is the only thing that can truly bring peace and rest to our hearts. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18).
God doesn’t just love you; He is love. It’s the essence of His character. God can’t be unloving. It’s simply not possible. And His love is far different than what we’ve experienced from other people.
God’s love has no limits. You can’t wear Him out or be too much for Him to handle. He doesn’t grow tired. He doesn’t have bad days. His response to you doesn’t depend on his mood or energy level. There’s never an end to His love for you.
God’s love has no expectations. In every human relationship, we encounter expectations. But God doesn’t have any for us. He already knows our hearts; therefore, we can’t surprise or disappoint Him.
God’s love has no requirements. We’re used to relationships in which we’re made to feel, “If you do X, then I will love you.” God’s love is unconditional. God loved all of us while we were still sinners, and nothing can separate us from His love now.
God’s love is not dependent on us. Human love is often determined by our actions. But God loves us because that’s who he is. It’s part of His character. He will always love us, no matter what we do.
God’s love has our ultimate good in mind. Because He doesn’t need our love, God can do what is best for us even if it’s not what we want. Other people may make choices that aren’t really beneficial to us just so we won’t get upset with them. But God is independent of us and doesn’t need our approval.
God’s love can’t be earned. It can only be received. We can win the affections of others through our actions. But God’s love is only and always a gift of grace. We can never be good enough to gain His love and never bad enough to lose it.
God is offering His love to you — fully, freely, and forever. It’s time to stop trying so hard, let your heart be still and simply receive it.
Holley Gerth, author of the new book You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect
This week let’s all take time to ask God to show us the lies our hearts have believed about His love. A tool that can help you discover those lies is Holley’s free one-minute “Is Pressure to Be Perfect Secretly Hurting You?” Quiz.
My heart needed this. I think I’ll re-read it a few more times. Thank you, Holley <3
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I always thought I had to earn my earthly father’s love and so I transferred that onto my Heavenly Father…always striving, always trying to earn…to be perfect. God is so much more wonderful than even the best earthly example of a father. What you listed are hard concepts for us to get our tiny minds around, but when we do…oh how freeing it can be. Unconditional love breaks our shackles of fear and insecurity. I’m still a work in progress, but definitely learning to live more freely and thus to be still. Thanks for these “keepers” for reminders!
Kim S says
Holley, love this month’s challenge to Be Still. I am really enjoying your book and love that little quiz too. Big surprise I believe those lies that I have to be perfect for God to love me. So thankful for your book to encourage me with the Good News that God Loves Me No Matter What. Have a great day, Kim Stewart
Jessica Stinson says
I’m so excited for this new book! I faced two very painful things this week that I have run from & avoided time and again in the past.This incourage community has helped me and been a catalyst for my healing in so many ways. Facing the epidemic of weariness and what is really at the root of trying to do it all is a brave next step and I could not be more happy to take it – thanks in large part to the company the Lord has blessed me with. Thanks, Holley! xoxo
Stephanie Hinz says
I’ve felt so much of this! Even as a believer I have greatly struggled with completely receiving His unconditional love. Thank you for the uplifting words today.
I needed to hear this today. For months now, if not years, I have been trying to earn God’s love. I didn’t grow up with a father in the home, so I don’t know what it is like to have fatherly love. Over the years, the Lord has taught me what a father is like through His example. I know in my heart that God loves me, and I know it in my head that God loves me, but I just can’t grasp that He does really love me. I have tried so hard to please Him. I feel like if I don’t have just the right amount of Faith, trust, and belief in Him that He won’t do anything amazing in my life. I feel like His blessings and miracles all depend on me…how much Faith I have, etc. and that if I don’t have enough, or if I doubt, He will be mad at me and will punish me accordingly. I know these are all lies, but I cannot help believing them. A lot of the time I just sense the Lord watching me go through a trial and saying, “Just be tough and have more faith. Just trust me and leave it in my hands…if you just have enough Faith…” I simply cannot do this anymore. I keep praying for God to show me that He doesn’t depend on me before He does something incredible. I just need to see that He can do miracles and the impossible without me…without my piddly amount of Faith, that He goes beyond me….that He doesn’t need me to “do enough.”
Please, I would really appreciate prayers and encouragement. My mom is also going through a similar battle like me. Please pray for her too.
Thank you so much!
Your post really touched my heart today- and one suggestion beyond my prayers for you would be to go to the Psalms, and read how big our God is. Start with some of the beginning Psalms, and read how King David struggled just like we do now with doubt, and fear, but then turned his eyes toward the power and majesty of our God, and the reminders to trust Him completely. It’s all about our Lord, and who He is, and that He Reigns from heaven, and nothing escapes His gaze, and most of all- He Loves YOU! He is able! Eph. 3:20-21!
Thank you so much for your encouragement, Kimmy. I needed to hear all of that. I love how you posted the scripture from Ephesians….God knows that those verses are very close to my heart! Thank you…. I know the Lord will bless you. <3
Inspired Life says
I’m stopping everything for this moment to be still, to know in my head and receive in my heart that He loves me. PERIOD! Letting this truth wash over me. Thank you for prompting me to just sit in this space. I am blanketed in His love.
Kaz Zer says
When I was a very young girl I was taught this.
To be still and I would be able to find God. I was encouraged to find Him, all by myself and not in the busyness of the world. But to find Him all by myself. Alone.
It is in being alone with the LORD that we find HIM big time. HE speaks. We can hear HIM.
The world is full of clamor and voices that say, come here. Go there.
But in the stillness of it all, God’s voice and HIS Presence is big time.
Holley, I love this beautiful post. It is so easy to follow the world’s formula for finding love and end up disappointed. When we walked through infertility a number of years ago, I believed God loved me less than those to whom He’d given children. One day, He stopped me and showed me how very much He loves me. He can’t love us anymore than He already does because He already loves us completely, passionately and perfectly. This realization opened my eyes. I still struggle some days when I’ve really blown it, but there is such peace in believing this truth about His love.
Sorry, I got on my soapbox a bit. 🙂 Your post spoke to me. 🙂
This was very encouraging to read. Thank you. I struggle with knowing God Loves me no matter what.
Lilian Riggs says
I truly needed this very encouraging scriptures this week, surely renewed my focus to our Lord than human affections of being wanted. Thank u so much,.
Thanks so much for being here and reading these words today, friends! I’m fighting the flu and you’re an encouragement to me!
Alecia Simersky says
Unconditional love is still something I am trying to wrap my head and heart around. I catch myself working to earn it and realize, duh! I don’t have to earn anything. I’m loved as is. I have your new book at my side right now and I’m ready to dig in!
God loves us unconditionally. If he can forgive and love Judas and Peter for denying and forsaking him, God can and does forgive and loves us. We don’t have to earn it. It’s ours uncondionally.
Why is the letting go and being still so hard? It’s such a struggle for me, feeling like I have to be on top of every little thing or it will all come crashing down and something bad will happen. I wish I could learn how to let go and be at peace because I’m so tired of being strong all the time.
Donna L says
I’m with the others… my heart needed this. Thank you! It is so easy to condemn yourself for the things you do or don’t do, and the liar would have each of us believe that we’ll never be good enough for God. I’m so glad for this reminder that God and His promises never change. And that I don’t have to earn His love. Cuz if that was the case, I’d be sunk, along with a lot of others. Keep sharing God with us… we need it! Be blessed for your ministry!
Nancy Ruegg says
“God’s love has no expectations.” That’s the statement that grabbed my attention. He knows my heart and my intentions. He sees my efforts to bring him delight (Psalm 147:11) and please him with integrity (1 Chron. 29:17). And much as I wish I could be perfect for him, it’s not going to happen. Yet he loves me anyway, as a gift of his grace. What a glorious God he is! Thank you, Holley, for the encouragement and inspiration.
Thank you to everyone one that posted on this. I thought I was the only one that felt like I had to earn God’s love. I have heard all of my life that he loves me unconditionally, but that is hard to grasp, when the world tells you that you have to earn love.
I really appreciate these thoughts as I am one that quickly run away from my walk wuth God each time i fail but knowing what his love is truely like is sooo comforting. God bless u!
Thank you for this. I feel I am dying. My son who is 3 has been diagnosed with Autism and a developmental delay as well. He is my only child and I do not know what life will be like for us. His speech is very delayed and I worry he will never fully catch to where he needs to be up due to the dual diagnosis. I struggle because before his birth I prayed so much for his mental well being and it has not happened. I struggle with anger and grief and feel no one really gets it. I get told things like it could be much worse, or it’s not the end of the world, that he probably will be really smart because he’s autistic. I find it hard sometimes and find it hard not to worry about his future. I find it hard at times to feel God’s love.
Thank you. The tears were flowing..2 days in a row…crying out at the same time ..questioning, asking the Father what ,how, why, and how long… today once again, He speaks to me..He answers me. You are His vessel. Through whom He has spoken. Thank you. I know i mustt be still. There’s much i want to do, yes, perfectly. All of what your opening lines are exactly, spot on of how i am right now. I know i must be still …there’s so much peace to know that He knows and all will be well.
Just what I needed to hear this morning!. Thank you!
Donna Torrado says
WOW! How did I miss this last week? I had tears well up as I read this.
I am so grateful that He has given me the word Grace for this year & that He said it was not only to give Grace to others, but understand and receive it for myself. This blog truly is helping me to understand His Great Grace.
Thank you for this.
God’s love is not dependent on us .. GOD’S LOVE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON ME , GOD’S LOVE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON MY FAITH !!! That’s a relief !!
Thank you so much Holley
With such imperfect, human love (no matter how hard it tries) all around me, it’s so hard for me to even begin to try to grasp God’s love. Thank you.