With Valentine’s Day approaching, it seemed fitting to address the number one question that the women I work with are asking: How do I believe that God loves me in my head and my heart? Even if you aren’t outright asking “does God love me” if there is a doubt and uncertainty about God’s love for you, it’s critical that you address that if you want godly confidence and a vibrant relationship with Christ.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive into a deeper understanding of how our answer to this question shapes how we view ourselves and God. Join us on today’s episode, where we’ll be discussing the dissonance we experience between knowing the truth of God’s love and not feeling it. Stay tuned for next week’s episode on action steps.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [04:37] Why we can logically know but not feel God’s love from a brain science perspective
- [09:02] What happens when we don’t address why we don’t feel loved by God
- [17:32] How unprocessed emotions can lead to questions like “does God love me?”
- [23:42] Recognize: A simple practice to recognize God’s love for you everyday
- [25:26] The reality of feeling the “emotion” of God’s love
- [27:51] Take these steps now to prepare for Pt 2 on knowing God loves you in your head and your heart
[04:37] Why we can logically know but not feel God’s love from a brain science perspective
To help us better understand why we can logically know truths like “god loves me” (but not feel it in our heart), let’s define the differences between the logical and the subconscious mind.
The logical mind, also known as the prefrontal cortex, is right behind our forehead, housing the executive functioning section. When we’re analyzing or processing information, it’s happening in this active thinking part of our brain.
We have another area inside our brain that's composed of several different structures, which we can refer to as the subconscious mind. Acting as a supercomputer, the subconscious mind stores all of our information, such as memories, habits, and patterns. As the subconscious mind begins to see patterns coming in through the logical mind, recognizing a habit or action that we’ve done numerous times, it begins to reinforce that pattern. The brain loves repetition and conserving energy to keep us alive, so it begins to build neural networks that remember our habits and are strengthened each time they are used.
There are certain patterns that are built into our subconscious mind that we may not even be aware of, especially a lot of these patterns around identity, love, and worthiness. These tend to be formed without us really cognitively saying this is what I'm going to think about, typically forming between the ages of 9 and 13. These are the patterns our brains use as a base to define answers to questions like these: What does it take to be worthy? What is required for me to feel loved, be loved, or to give love to others? What do I need to do to feel enough?
If we have determined the answer to be I feel loved by others when I perform well, work hard, or achieve, then we can find ourselves stuck in these patterns, despite the fact that we may know that we're loved as is. This is a perfect example of the subconscious mind overruling the prefrontal cortex logical mind.
When this happens, we can feel that dissonance of knowing we should do one thing, but continuing to do the other, simply out of habit. There are all kinds of patterns that are shaping our mind that are outside of our logical thinking. This is especially important to know when we think about the relationship between knowing God's love in our head and our heart, because many of us have learned that what it means to be loved is to do certain things or to act or look a certain way.
[09:02] What happens when we don’t address why we don’t feel loved by God
If our subconscious patterns of how to feel loved by others (and therefore loved by God) is not in line with biblical truth then we are going to experience cognitive dissonance. This is the difference between our logical mind knowing what God’s word says about his unconditional love for us, and how our subconscious mind has already defined patterns of receiving love.
Many of us are walking around with these subconscious soundtracks that are different from what we know to be true in the Bible, and that can feel scary but with effort and practice it can also feel very freeing and liberating. This is something we break down and work on in the Christian Mindset Makeover because it’s a huge stepping stone into why a lot of us are struggling with these big issues around habits such as perfectionism and people pleasing.
[17:32] How unprocessed emotions can lead to questions like “does God love me?”
One of my passions is helping women understand and not be afraid of their emotions. I am a huge proponent of helping women sit and understand and not push away emotions, because for most of my life, I really did not want to have anything to do with my emotions; they got in my way, they annoyed me, they were not truth in my head so I dismissed them.
God had to take me through a serious medical crisis in order for me to confront this pattern. While it was caused by many things, one of them was the idea that I didn't need to process my emotions, that I could just push them down. That built up in my body and created a lot of physical trauma that resulted in a big medical crisis.
This concept of dealing with unprocessed emotions, not being taken over by emotions but learning how to bring them to a seat at the table of how we work through our life, is vital. Emotions are not the truth, but there's a reason why they're there. Many of us walk around with all of these emotions that we have no idea what to do with. We don't know how to even begin to look at them or access them in a healthy way. We've learned to stuff them down and distract ourselves from them, even sometimes numb ourselves from them. We are immersed in a culture that is perfectly designed to be full of distraction and full of ways to run away from the important parts of life.
As a result of this culture we’ve created, a lot of us just have all of this emotional stuff in us that causes a sort of eruption, and yet we don't know what to do about it. It causes damage and breaks in friendships, marriage, and also in our relationship with God.
If left unchecked, our unprocessed emotions can lead us to believe a new reality about ourselves that isn’t true. When these thoughts become repeated and eventually subconscious patterns then we can find ourselves operating from “truths” that don’t line up with biblical truth.
If we don't deal with these emotions, they're going to begin to mutate into other aspects of our life, even potentially making us question “does God love me”?
[23:42] Recognize: A simple practice to recognize God’s love for you everyday
As part of the Spiritual Growth Rhythm Bible Study Method found in all of my Bible studies, I teach a very helpful practice called “recognize”. After we’ve spent time receiving wisdom from God’s word through Bible study we spend a few minutes writing down the tangible ways that we’ve seen God “show up” in the last 24 to 48 hours. In other words, how have you seen His fingerprints in your life (and therefore how much God loves you) even in the last day or two? These evidences of God’s love for you and of His presence in your life could be anything: a good conversation with a friend; a beautiful sunset; unlikely monetary provision; or just anything that was “only God’ in the way that it worked out.
When we can do that on a regular basis, we begin to see evidences that God loves us. When we don’t recognize His love and His presence regularly like this it's really easy to let our own perceptions and our own disappointments get in the way of really believing that God loves us. Along with daily Bible time (putting God’s truths in our minds) we must keep acknowledging how He is at work. It’s these moments that help us see more clearly “yes, God loves me. I love him and I can trust Him.”
[25:26] The reality of feeling the “emotion” of God’s love
Emotions go up and down every single day. All of us have days when we “feel happy” and other days when we don't feel happy. However, the more I recognize God’s love and manage my thoughts about how I feel loved, the more often I find myself enjoying the positive “feeling” of knowing God loves me. Regardless of our circumstances, we can have joy from knowing God’s love as an undergirding presence in our lives. We can more freely experience the joy of God’s love, not just the head knowledge of it.
Romans 8:31-39 says that nothing can steal us from the love of Christ. Even when we have bad days, the foundational truth is that we are loved by God and nothing can take that away. This is important for us to understand as our logical mind and subconscious mind battle through our daily emotions, because the truth is that we won’t always feel happy, but we can know the truth of joy, the truth of God’s love. Even if in a moment where we don't understand exactly His reasons for what He’s allowed to happen in our lives, we can still operate from the perception that we are fully loved by God.
Since Romans 8:31-39 says that nothing can take us from God’s love, I wonder how often our unresolved emotions and unaddressed questions are the cause of not “feeling loved” by God. What if we’ve allowed the divide to occur because we’ve ignored what’s inside?
[27:51] Take these steps now to prepare for Pt 2 on knowing God loves you in your head and your heart
In next week’s episode, we’ll be discussing detailed action steps we can take to help shift some of our current patterns, but there are two specific action steps that you can take right now!
First, be in God's word. Being able to hear the truth of God about who you are in him and his love for you is our filter for what we believe when we go through difficult times. This is why I created the I Am Loved Bible study, so that you can immerse yourself in verses that share this truth.
Also, take this time to reflect on some of the topics we discussed in this episode that made you pause or become curious about the patterns you’ve seen show up in your own life. If you want to talk about this more before next week’s episode, find me on Instagram and we’ll continue the conversation.
Other Podcast Episodes on God’s Love:
NEXT STEPS: Grow Closer to God and Learn to Hear His Loving Voice as You Study about God's Love in the “I Am Loved” Bible Study Course
Are you walking through a difficult season and really need to know that God is with you and that He loves you?
“How have you learned what love is and how to receive love?”
There are 4 weeks of daily homework sheets, weekly devotionals, plus powerful coaching questions—all inside a beautiful full-color Bible study magazine.
PLUS the “I Am Loved Study” also includes access to weekly video teaching sessions from me to help you understand and apply what you’re learning. This is an ON-DEMAND study, meaning you can start it just when you need it.
Experience confident joy as God's love renews your mind
Find peace as God's love helps you release worry and fear
Rediscover hope as God's love offers a new perspective on life's trials
Don’t let another day go by without experiencing the peace, confidence + joy that comes from knowing (in your head and your heart!) that you are loved by God!
Join us now for this life-changing Bible study on God's love!