Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God Loves You Better Than You Love Yourself

Leslie Basham: Janet Aucoin imagines what unchecked love of herself would look like in contrast with the love of Jesus.

Janet Aucoin: I would kill myself with my love for me. I would destroy me! The way I would love me, nobody would even parent that way. I would make a monster out of myself. That’s how I would love me if I had the freedom to do that. His love is much better than mine! I need the reminder that the gospel assures me: He loves you better than you love you.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for July 27, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As we’ve been hearing for the past couple of days, we all have unfulfilled longings. There’s nothing wrong with that. Janet Aucoin has been helping us see that those unfulfilled longings can help us look forward to the day when all our deepest desires will be met in Jesus!

Janet gave this message at a conference for women hosted by Life Action Ministries, the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband Brent serve in leadership at Faith Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana.

Yesterday we left off where Janet was explaining the power of the gospel to help adjust our perspectives on our unfulfilled longings. Here’s Janet Aucoin.

Janet: As I grow in my longing for God, I start experiencing a foretaste of that total fulfillment. You’ll have those moments where you’re blown away! Understand that, when you have those moments, that’s a foretaste of the way it will be all the time . . . but it’s just a taste, because you’re not there yet. You’ll get a taste of it.

If you have your Bibles, we’re going to look at Ephesians 1 for a couple of minutes and see what God has to say about us. I use this passage when I’m teaching on this in counseling a lot, and this would be a great passage to have them memorize. We’re not going to have time to read all the verses. I would like to.

So because of Christ, starting in verse 3, I’ve been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Not, “I hope that happens.” You have, but it’s in the heavenly places. Now, I don’t know all that that means, but I know some of what it means, because He outlines it in the next verses.

So I get some indicators of what that means. It at least means I was chosen by the God of the universe “before the foundation of the world” (v. 4). I was “predestined . . . for adoption” (v. 5). Those of you who’ve adopted, when you’re in the process but you don’t have the child yet, you know that longing. 

Now imagine being the child, knowing you’ve been adopted but you’re not with your family yet. That’s where we are. It’s a done deal. He’s adopted us. He has blessed me with His “glorious grace . . . in the Beloved” (v. 6). It’s all because of Christ.

“In him [I] have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of [my sins]" (v. 6). “He lavished” on me his grace (v. 7–8). In Him I’ve “obtained an inheritance” (v. 11). In Him, I’ve been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (v. 13). Wow, that’s just part of what’s in those verses! 

But right now, I’m in a sin-cursed body on a sin-cursed earth, and I don’t always feel fulfilled. I don’t feel like I belong; I don’t feel like I fit in. I’ve been told I’m “in Him,” and it’s like, “It doesn’t feel that way!” No, it doesn’t.

And this, what I’ll call “thorn in the flesh,” that God doesn’t choose to remove is a reminder that I am an outsider. That’s okay. Broken people in a broken world—it helps me set my affections where they ought to be, and it helps me yearn for Him even more! 

At that moment when Christ comes for His Bride, which includes all of us here who know Him, you’re going to experience what by faith you have chosen to believe. You’re going to fit in perfectly with your Creator, your Redeemer, your Companion, your Husband, the Lover of your soul. You’re going to know you’re home—but not yet.

So for now, we all have unfulfilled longings to be totally accepted, to totally belong, and to be totally satisfied. And while you have not physically experienced that, God promises you in His Word that you already have it. All of those things have been met. It’s a done deal, and you will experience it one day. So until then, I’m just going to stop being surprised by that, and I’m not going to let that distract me from my mission.

You would think that that’s depressing, because here’s what I’ve just told you: “Those unfulfilled longings? Yeah, that’s the way it is! Suck it up.” (laughter) No! Actually, what I have found is when you know that, it frees you to see all the tastes—instead of expecting the feast and being disappointed all the time. I think it leads to thankfulness and a lot of appreciation, a lot of gratitude.

When I’m not trying to use people to meet my needs, I’m free to see the taste that they are, instead of, “Well I know they were trying to be helpful, but that wasn’t just the way to say that.” Well, that’s the feast. There will come a day when we all say what we’re supposed to say, but until then, look at the fact that she cared enough to try. Instead of, “I was suffering and instead of saying just the right thing, she said something else.” She said something! I’ll see that as a taste, because I don’t need the feast right now. It’s coming.

Think of it this way . . . Imagine (this is not political, we’re not here to talk about who people are, but imagine) you’ve been invited for dinner at the White House. (I don’t know about you, but I’m assuming that's pretty amazing!) So, I would not eat all day, because I’m not going full! I’m not going to walk into a White House banquet full. So I have not eaten all day; I’m famished. I get to this White House banquet, for whatever reason that they invited me, and somebody’s walking around with a little piece of bread, a little cucumber on it, a cherry tomato, a little bit of drizzle.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like those little appetizer things. They give you one of those, and that’s it! How you feeling about that? No, I don’t think so! Why? Because I was expecting a lot more than that! So I sure don’t want that little thing. I’m starving! I did not eat all day! Not for a little piece of bread with a cucumber and a tomato and drizzle!

Okay, so imagine you’re in a church of fifty, and the women’s ministries puts on a light tea at two o’clock in the afternoon and says, “Light refreshments.” You walk in, and there’s somebody with a little tray and a really cute little piece of bread, little cucumber on top, a little tomato, a little bit of drizzle. 

What are you thinking? That’s pretty good! I like those—because I do like those. Right? (So if that’s not your favorite, think of a different one.) What’s the difference? What I was expecting. When I was expected a feast I couldn’t even enjoy the taste, but when you’re looking for a taste, you’re going to see it everywhere.

When people say to you, “I don’t have that many friends.”

"Do you have one?" There’s a taste. My son said to me once several years ago . . . He was getting older and looking for ways to be discipling others. We were in the car going somewhere, and we were talking about that. . .

He said, “I’m finding that my relationships are kinda one-way. I’m trying to reach into people’s lives, and I have people that I’m trying to help. But it’s not a lot of two-way.”

And I said, “Well, that’s probably true.”

Then he looked at me and he said, “And then I got to thinking . . . It’s that way for you, isn’t it mom? Most of your relationships are one-way?”

I’ll cry thinking about it. He was so sweet. And I said, “Yes, that’s alright.” I said, “Do you have anybody you can talk to?”

And he can talk to his mom and dad. We talked about that, and he had one friend that he said, “I know I can call him.”

And I said, “Oh, honey, you have a friend! How many people do you need to tell your junk to? Do you need to repeat it like over and over and over? Do you have one that will listen to you and will try to push you toward Christ?”

And he’s like, “Yes, I do.”

I said, “Well, praise the Lord! What more do you need? Now, go love everybody else.”

I don’t need a feast! I could enjoy the taste of that friendship instead of going, “[deep sigh] She has twelve friends, and I have two!”

You have two friends? Praise the Lord! Do you know that there are women who have nobody to talk to? Go be that one for them! Freeing, isn’t it?

Oh, and then you realize, “I’m thankful for that one.” Instead of, “I wish I had twelve.” We call those "Eeyore days." You know, "[moaning voice] It’s my birthday, and nobody’s coming to my party." When we’re getting into our self-pity modes around the house, we’ll say, “Eeyore day?”

“Yeah, it’s an Eeyore day.”

“Okay.”

I’m looking for the feast, so I don’t see any of the taste. So I would say to you, when you’re not clamoring after it, and you don’t “need it,” and you’re not entitled to it, you’re going to see He gives you tastes everywhere.

When you walk into church, “Only one person said ‘hi’ to me!”

How about, “Somebody said ‘hi’ to me!” Look at the entitlement: “Only one person!” Well, how many are you entitled to? That would be zero. So one is more. So, “Wow, that was awesome! That's great!” 

And, honestly, we’re at a new campus ministry. (New three or four years ago now.) We’ve really worked with them on reaching out. We’ve had some that have said, “Back off! I visit your church and like 'Brrm!' [i.e. “I’m inundated with people greeting me!”]

I’m like, “You know, somebody’s going to be mad.” They’re mad because too many people talked to them. They’re mad because nobody talked to them. So we have to find just the right number of people! So we’ve decided, “If you’re gonna get mad, get mad because we attacked you. We’ll take it.” But they’re looking for the feast. They want it to be perfect—whatever that “perfect” is for you.

It might be that nobody talks to me. “How dare they?” For some people it is that. But how about just the taste? “Look, somebody’s trying to be nice to me. It was a little awkward. They didn’t really know what to say, but somebody tried.” You’ll appreciate so much more.

Just one example . . . and I always preface this, because I have no desire to give you a false impression of my life at home or to give you a point of comparison that makes your life sound worse. There’s a lot of issues in our home, because we’re just like all the rest of you, okay?

I know how to provoke my husband. I know how to push his buttons. I’m so not proud of that, but I know how, so that can happen. But I want to give you one example of something he did so that you can recognize it.

I’m coming in from the garage (and our garage comes into our kitchen), so I’m really mad. It wasn’t about Brent. I don’t even know what it was. I have no idea. I’m sure it was incredibly important and life changing! (laughter) But I was really mad.

So I got out of my car, went in the garage door into the kitchen, and poor Brent happened to be standing in the kitchen. Bad place. And so I let it out—whatever it was. I don’t know about you, but there are times that you recognize that this vile anger is coming out your mouth, and you believe it is righteous. It’s the other people that are not loving Jesus enough and that’s why you have to be this vile. (laughter) There are those times when I’m convinced I’m right. This wasn’t even that. Like, it’s coming out my mouth. 

As I’m hearing it—because he was not distracting with his sin, because he just listened so my sin is filling the room—I’m thinking, Shut up! And I couldn’t! It just kept coming. So I know I’m wrong. I’m know I’m petty. I know it’s completely me, and I’m not stopping. Like, it’s just coming out. And now (and maybe you’re not as wicked as I am) I’m mad at him for seeing me be wicked (laughter) . . . because I feel exposed. 

I try to not be wicked in front of everyone (it doesn’t go as well), so now I feel vulnerable and exposed. I’m waiting for him to rebuke me. I’m getting defensive. He hasn’t even said anything, but I’m already defensive about it. “You don’t know how hard it was!” and “I don’t do this all the time.”

So I’m ready to defend my wickedness against this poor man who’s just standing in the kitchen! I took a breath at some point. Thank the Lord that I have limited capacity, so I had to take a breath! When I did, he looked at me and just said, “Come here.”

And I started sobbing. Because he has just seen me—no excuses. It wasn’t even like I had a good reason, like there had just been a horrible accident. There just wasn’t. It was just wicked! He saw it, and he didn’t say, “That’s okay. I don’t blame you. I’m mad at them, too.” He didn’t enter into my sin. But he said [by his actions], “I see you, and I just love you.” And he gave me a hug, and I started sobbing and crying, “I am so wicked!”

And he just said, “Let’s just pray.” And he just took me to the cross.

Now, my fear in sharing that is, people go, “My husband doesn’t always do that!” Mine doesn’t always do that either. But what was that a picture of? A picture of what Christ does for me every time I sin, every time I spit on Him and say, “I don’t even think you care about me, because You let . . . da . . . da . . . da." As He’s been on the cross for me, and I do that. He says, “I know, honey. Come here.”

That was a taste. Here’s what I could do with that taste. I could say, “Well, he’s a pastor. He’s supposed to be gentle with me and lead me to the cross.” Can I tell you, as women we get like that?

And then, the next time I blow up, if he doesn’t respond that way: “What kind of a man is that? He’s not leading his wife! I don’t deserve that." He’s not going to do that all the time, and he doesn’t do that all the time. Hear me. He doesn’t do that.

There are times he’s blowing up, and sometimes I take him to the cross. Sometimes I get mad with him, and we have Oreos and milk. You know? It’s not okay, but at that moment, that was a taste. And I could say, “I don’t deserve it, and it may never happen again,and that’s okay. But right now, that was a taste.” I could fully enjoy it without thinking, He’d better do it every time! or I’m entitled! But when I expect the feast—I expect my husband to be Jesus for me—he does that for me and I think, “Well, that’s good.” I don’t even appreciate it because he just ought to. So hear that as, that’s a taste. They’re everywhere!

If you just walked into a room and somebody has tried to talk to you, that was a taste. So when I’m focused on trying to get my needs met anymore . . . Here’s what I know: they’ve already been met. It does not feel like it; one day it will. And until then, “God would You help me to see the tastes that I have been unable to see because I’m mad I’m not at a feast? The appetizer was not okay with me, because I was starving and wanted a feast. But, Lord, the feast is coming. I have the downpayment of Your Holy Spirit. It’s a done deal. I do not have to wonder if I’m going to get the feast.”

In the meantime, enjoy the appetizers. And it’s okay if I’m not completely full. Just enjoy it!

Then I’m freer to actually love people. Until you get to that point, you can’t love people. You’re too busy using them. I can’t love them. Now I can. Look around you at all the frantic people also trying to get their longings met. Some of them are flirting with your husband, because that’s the way they’re trying to get their longings met. “If all the men in the world thought I was amazing, I would be fulfilled!”

You don’t need to sit in judgment of her. I understand there’s things we need to do, but it happens, right? Some of us have to look a certain way. Some of us are all about our job and telling you how much better ours is than yours. We have to have the latest gadget.

Many of the people around you are experiencing that kind of unfulfilled longing. And just as we didn’t know what it was, they don’t know what it is—and they don’t even have the hope of the gospel! They don’t have a guarantee that it’s ever going to get any better. This is it. Can you imagine?

Sitting with each of my parents as they died, I remember saying to my husband, “If this is all there was, it’s so not worth it!” It’s just not. Thank You, Lord, it’s not all there is. But if it were . . . Now, you need to understand. The people around you are sitting in judgment because they’re acting like pagans, because they are pagans. This is it for them.

Of course, they’re trying to get all that they can get out of it. This is it. How depressing is that? And you know better. My needs are met. I’m enjoying the taste, and now I’m free to go and help those other people and love them, because I’m going to be with the Lord forever. Right now, I just want to get as many people to come with me as I can.

I’ve thought before that heaven’s going to be amazing in ways that my mind can’t comprehend. I was thinking, everything about heaven is better than earth. Is there anything we won’t be able to do in heaven? And the only thing I’ve been able to come up with so far (other than we won’t sin; I get that), anything that we would want to do that we can’t do in heaven. I think it’s love the lost. Now is the only time we have to do that. I can’t do that if I’m too busy sucking the life out of the people around me, trying to get them to fill my longings.

Now, my lack of perfect contentment pushes me to my knees, draws me closer to the One who’s promised that He has met them, and I will experience it when I’m with Him. Now I get to focus on everybody else.

As I do this in counseling, sometimes just understanding it brings a lot of hope. When people see, “I’m not doing anything wrong? You mean it’s okay? You feel that way too, Janet?”

“Yeah, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

Then what do I need to do? I need to spend a lot of time meditating on the gospel, because my experience does not match the reality sometimes. And if you’ve not read A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent? . . . you’re probably saved, but just to be sure, you just need to read this book.

I know. He didn’t write it until many years after you could have been saved, but it’s an amazing book. The back section is the gospel in narrative form that is powerful! Go through there.

Here’s what I do with people I’m counseling. Underline five things that amaze you about it—because it’s page after page of just the gospel. Then underline the five things that you struggle to believe. You’ll find out why you’re struggling to apply the gospel.

And then I say, “Just look at this one that you struggle to believe.” We will read it (and most women say the same ones). “When I sin, God feels no wrath in His heart against me.”

"Do you believe that?"

“Well, I think He’s pretty disappointed.”

So we talk about, “What if you believed that, how would that change your week—just this one thing? I want you to get up every morning and read that and then I want you to pretend you believe it and act the way you would act if you did.”

Because you’re really not pretending. What I’m really saying is, “Go against your emotions,” but it’s easier to say, “Pretend.” People know how to do that. They don’t know how to go against their emotions, but they can pretend, so that’s where we start. I find that to be very helpful.

Another one in there. I’m just going to share this with you because it was so powerful for me. It’s called, “Liberation from self-love.” He says this: “The gospel assures me that the love of God is infinitely superior to any love that I could ever give myself.” 

You can see I’ve read this book a lot—it’s probably the fourth time through. You read it and go, “Yes, that’s true. Boy, God’s love is amazing. Yeah, that’s true.” The fourth time through I went, “Do I believe that?” Do I believe that His love is infintely superior to any love that I could ever give myself? I don’t believe that most of the time.

I made a list, and I would encourage you to do this. Let’s pretend that God said, “You have the freedom without guilt or sin to love yourself in any way you want. Go! What would you do for yourself?” So I started a list.

Well, my husband would love me so much he’d have a hard time leaving to to work because he wouldn’t want to be out of my presence. So that relationship would be perfect. There’d be no conflict and that would be great, because who would give themselves conflict? I mean, I wouldn’t do that to me! I love me too much for that.

My children would rise up and call me blessed every day and be saying, “Mom, really, what can we do for you? You don’t need to do for us.” (laughter) I know! Wouldn’t it be cool? Who wouldn’t do that for themselves?

I would not have any pain. I deal with chronic pain. I wouldn’t give that to me because, you know, that’s not very nice in my book, in my way of love. So I would have no pain. I would be healthy . . . meaning I can eat whatever I want, never feel sick, enjoy it, and be healthy. Because I don’t enjoy exercise. I do it because I have to. I do it because I have a friend that does it with me, and if she in any way can’t come, I don’t go! It’s kind of a joke, because she was out of town this week, and I haven’t been! I could have gone Friday morning, and she was like, “Oh, I have to leave town.”

I went, “Okay, guess I can’t go.” That’s how much I love to exercise!

So I would not make myself have to do that. Because, you know, how much more I could do for the Lord if I just had a body that worked perfectly, slept well every night without any struggles, could do whatever I wanted?

Okay, most days would be my birthday! Most of you would get very nice gifts for me that were very thoughtful because I love little gifts. They don’t even have to be expensive, really. Just wrap it and have it be thoughtful, and I’m all about it! So that’s what I would do.

What would I be like? Could I suggest to you that I'd be purposeless? I mean, what would be the point? I already have everything. I'd probably not be very compassionate . . . pretty selfish. Then I think, How is His love better?

How about, “I know everything about you, and I love you anyway.” Acceptance. Complete and utter acceptance. Isn’t that what your heart’s really asking for?

How about no matter what you do, the cross of Christ is so powerful you’ll never be taken out of being His child. Security! And I will tell you, for most of the women I work with, that’s huge. Security. We’re looking for security, and if we’re married, we’re demanding it in our husbands. You have a 100 percent security.

How about purpose? God says, “You are my visible representative to all of creation of what I’m like.” It’s just an amazing thing for me to think about. I get to be the visible representative of the invisible God to all of creation, and what I do could matter to people for time and eternity. You want to talk purpose?

I would kill myself with my love for me. I would destroy me! The way I would love me, nobody would even parent that way. Right? Because what would happen if you gave your kid everything they asked for, let him eat whatever he wanted, never said “no” to him, made everyday his birthday? (laughter) Can you say “nightmare?!” Your kid would be a monster!

I would make a monster out of myself! That’s how I would love me if I had the freedom to do it. His love is much better than mine. I needed the reminder that the gospel assures me: He loves you better than you love you. That’s important!

I also have them study through Psalm 139. As a new believer, I read that. The woman who led me to Christ (so influential in my life!) used that, because I had (what she would have called, because she was gracious to me) “low self-esteem.” In reality, I just thought about myself a lot, and I was upset that you didn’t—so that was the whole low self-esteem thing.

She read to me that I’m “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Can I tell you that that psalm is so much better when you know it’s written by David. David, who was a nobody, the youngest shepherd, that they didn’t even bother bringing in to see if he might be the one that God was going to make king until Samuel had to say, “You got any other sons? These aren’t the ones!” He was a nobody. God brought him from obscurity and made him king.

And what was David known for, in part? Well, that would be adultery, deception, murder. This is what David knows when he starts it by saying, “You know everything about me, God.” We don’t have time to read that whole psalm. Read that psalm thinking about that’s what David knew. This is not a Hallmark card.

“Your hand is behind me and before me. You’ve laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!” (see v. 5) (Meaning “full of wonder!” Not Hallmark “wonderful.” “Full of wonder!”)

“I can’t get away from Your Spirit,” he says. “If I went to the uttermost parts of the sea, You’re there! If I was in darkness, You’re there.” And then he says, “You knew everything about me before I was born!”—which is amazing when you look what that means He knew (see vv. 7–13).

And then he says, “And Your thoughts about me are precious!” (see v. 17). You want to talk about acceptance? How about somebody who knows more evil about you that you will admit to you, and then still says, “I chose you!” It allows him to end the psalm by saying, “Search me and try me” (see v. 23).

And you know what we say? “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to think that way. I’m good. I’m better than that.”

He’s like, “No! If You already know it, God, and You love me anyway. Search me and try me. Know my heart; see if there’s any wicked way in me. I have nothing to fear!”

Fearless! “Show me my sin, so I can get rid of it!” Why? Fierce loyalty to Someone who would know everything about him and love him anyway. That’s belonging. I don’t always feel it, but that’s the reality that I live in. And when I learn to live out of that, I don’t have to judge you. I can just say, “I get it,” and then I get to focus on you.

Make a thank list. My husband and I were just talking about this. There are some issues going on right now. And I said, “You know, I need to just spend some time listing all the people around us who are faithful because some aren’t, and they’re loud. But I need to remember all the ones who are faithful.”

We just started talking about people: “This person’s been around. If we need something we could go to. . .” What are you thankful for? Those are your “tastes” of what God is doing. Instead of living by lies, I’m just going to take God at His Word. That’s what faith is.

Nancy: Wow, I love that! I’m so grateful for Janet’s transparency and her biblical perspective on how we can handle our disappointments in a Christ-honoring way. That was Janet Aucoin speaking to a group of women not long ago. If you missed any of this three-day series, I hope you’ll listen to all of it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you’re fighting with unhealthy emotions, the Word of God is such a powerful tool to change our perspective. When you go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, you’ll find a treasure trove of biblical teaching for women on so many helpful subjects!

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Have you ever wanted to share Jesus with someone from a Muslim background but you just weren’t sure how to do it? Our guest next week tells how she uses storytelling in countries normally thought of as closed to the gospel. It’s a model you may be able to use for sharing God’s love with others, so be sure to join us again next week for Revive Our Hearts.

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