Today marks the end of the subliminal caveats


It’s a disease I’ve had my whole life. I actually think we are all born with it.

On the first day of Kindergarten, I asked Amy Nosser to be my best friend forever. She said yes. Forever lasted 2 days . . . until she pulled my self-braided hair and knocked me down.

In 1st grade, I kissed that boy in the tunnel on the playground and said I would be his girlfriend, unless he told ANYONE, EVER – then our love would end.

I would smile for my school pictures if I got to do my own hair . . . If only I could burn that 3rd grade photo with 3 ponytails and a wide, proud smile of a kid with too few teeth . . .

And then, junior high and high school came. Conditional love meant control, but I never realized how much that control would actually control me.

By the time I got married, at 19 yrs old, I had figured it out. I meant every word of the vows I said that day, but more importantly, I planned to hold my sweet, 20-yr-old, red-headed groom to every word of his. Or else, I’m less sure.

The disease of “unless.” The existence of a world below all my outward responses in which I hold safely the deepest parts of my heart.

All I had to do was manage the quiet “unless.” I could claim complete commitment with my words and believe that the subliminal caveats I carried in my heart were not only normal, but acceptable.

Of course I would never discount the “unless” because it is justifiable. If he truly loved me, then he would not cross the “unless.” If he loved me, he would keep me safe.

This idea has always been especially true of God in my mind.

The God I believed in as a child was fickle. He was sometimes happy and sometimes, he was not. Which prayer he would answer was conditional – based on his mood.

Have you ever noticed that we tend to view God’s personality to be a lot like our own? At least I do. Maybe that’s a deep-rooted arrogance we can discuss another day, but I have always tended to gauge God based on myself.

With my fickle God, I tried to learn the things to do to keep up my end of the deal. Things like Faith, Trusting, Surrender . . . Singing words like “All I Need Is You.” All the while treasuring my internal “unless.”

As I have gotten older, my “unless” has come to mean more and more. I have kids now, and I am not prepared for them to be anywhere other than right in my care. I have a husband that makes me a more real, and more lovely person. Someone once asked me who I would be had I not married my husband – my answer was, “a much uglier person.” I’m not prepared to be that uglier person. My “unless” is strong and alive and valid. Justifiable.

The curious part about this whole disease is that I truly mean it when I tell God “I will go wherever you lead me, all I need is you.” The “unless” buried in my heart has been a silent companion for so long, I have forgotten it lives there.

When I am faced with its existence, I ask myself: “Do I truly believe that all I need is God?”

Because, my “unless” is completely justifiable. Anyone who has a heart would carry it as a banner. I am only human. Isn’t God big enough to hold me and my caveats?

God is big enough for whatever He wants to be big enough for. The problem is that I am not big enough. 

There is not room in my heart for my “unless” and surrender – surrender to a God that I deeply want to give my life to, because He gave His life for me, takes ALL OF ME.

When I allow my “unless” to live, it ties up my heart. I will not withhold that part of my heart any longer – My Creator Redeemer does not withhold himself from me, even though I could never hold up my end of the deal.

The God I believe in – the one that came to me in my deepest darkness and said, “I want you – yes, even now – always” – THAT GOD will get the LAST WORD. 

Today marks the beginning of the end of the subliminal caveats in my heart.

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