“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to constantly be in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly alright as it is.” Paulo Coelho
When I look at my rose bush, Kamilla, I’m reminded of this. I’m reminded that every stage of life is beautiful, and every stage serves a purpose—every bud, every blossom. Even the wilted flower serves a purpose: to make room for the next one.
We are worthy of love at every stage of life; we are created from love. We are worthy of love from the tiniest form of life in a mother’s womb, to the very last breath we take. We are worthy of love on our darkest days, when we are living lives of foolishness and selfishness, and even when we have no love in us to give.
How often do we tell ourselves “When I accomplish this goal, when I have that, when I stop doing this and start doing more of that, “I’ll love myself, I’ll accept myself then.” What we forget is that so often, what it takes to reach the goal in the first place is loving yourself now.
The wonderful thing about God is that He too loves us at every stage of our journey. God doesn’t expect perfection but invites us all to come as we are. Jesus was known in the Bible to have befriended the “lowliest” of sinners—prostitutes, adulteresses, tax collectors. He never condoned their behavior, but he loved those people. He drew near to them because He knew those people needed Him most. Whatever sin you’re struggling with today, know that God loves you, and He wants to have a relationship with you just as you are. He does want you to turn from your sin, but the relationship naturally comes first; love comes first. We get it backwards at times, thinking we need to earn God’s love, that once we turn from our sin, God will then love us more, and then we can have the relationship with Him. In reality, it’s the relationship that naturally comes first: once we turn to God and build a relationship with Him, we cannot help but turn from our sin because it becomes too painful to continue living in it. I want to make a distinction: there’s a difference between sinning—making mistakes, which is inescapable, and living in sin, choosing not to make an effort to turn away from it.
Turning from our sin comes naturally (though not at all always easily) as we grow to know and love the Lord. Turning from our sin does strengthen our relationship with God as well as help us to more clearly hear His voice. It does not make God love you any more than He already does. God loves the prostitute just as much as the preacher.
The next time you see a rose, I hope you’ll remember this message—this gift, if you will—every stage, every season shaped you into who you are today and who you will one day become; at every stage of life, you are worthy of love.