Rather recently, I stumbled upon a life altering reality: It is one thing to know facts about Jesus, but quite another to understand truly how much He loves you. Did you know that Jesus actually desires you to passionately love Him in return? Did you know He’s actually desperate for a relationship with you? So desperate that He’d even die for your love!?
I’ll admit, when I first heard that I was a little taken aback. “Why would Jesus so desperately want me to love Him?” It was a nice sentiment to hear “Jesus loves you,” but I didn’t care all that much. Yet, there came a point in my life near the end of high school when I yearned for something deeper. I didn’t want the world’s view of love and happiness (sex outside marriage, drugs, money, etc.) because I found it doesn’t last. However, on the other hand, I didn’t want the dryness of church doctrine and regulations. What I wanted was a love affair that would last!
I wanted to love and be loved, yet everywhere I looked, love had failed me. I found myself wondering if anyone would truly desire all the love I had tucked up inside. I was so eager to give it but I was also totally ignorant to the fact that there was Someone waiting for all eternity just to receive this particular love from me.
That’s right. As I stated earlier: the One waiting for my love was Jesus Himself. I couldn’t believe this was possible, but I now have complete certitude it’s true. Jesus, while He is perfectly divine is also human, and desires authentic love just as we do. It is a universally understood reality that all humans thirst for love! We have been programmed this way in God’s likeness. God is Love itself. We have this desire from Him.
I remember a time, not too long ago, when I was laying across the steps to the altar at the Carmelite Monastery in Buffalo. All the lights were off, the chapel was completely empty, and it was a hot summer day. I was quietly sobbing. I had done so much wrong, and I was so unhappy. Looking for love, I decided I would give Jesus a chance. Jesus had been pursuing me like a lost lamb. It was like jumping into an ocean of mercy. I was afraid at first, but once immersed, I came to know Jesus’ passionate love for me!
However, something was still missing. I was letting Jesus love me, letting Him heal me from my mistakes, knowing in my heart He’d never let me go. Then one day while lying in bed I felt in my heart Jesus saying, “I love you Maria, but do you love Me back?” I could hear the desire and aching in His heart: How He longed for me… This Man had died for me… How could I not love this Man who loves me so desperately?
I said, “Yes my Jesus, I want to love You.” Then the gospel story of the “Anointing at Bethany” came to mind. It is my favorite Bible story. It’s about a sinful woman who, uninvited, rushed into a dinner party Jesus was attending and began crying and kissing Jesus’ feet, cleaning them with her tears and hair (Luke 7: 36-50). I wanted to be that woman! She loved Jesus so much! So whenever I heard that story I imagined that girl was me… I still do. My life has never been the same. I have a joy that is beyond anything I’ve ever known.
Perhaps some of you reading this may want this kind of relationship but are unsure where to start. This is a radical love unlike any other, and sometimes you have to take a big leap of faith to find it! If you’re ready to take that leap, have no fear! It takes baby steps. Here are five tips I used to cultivate this friendship and I now share with you on how to fall in love with Jesus Christ!
5 practical tips to falling deeper
Silence: Jesus often comes to us in the most quiet moments. This world is very loud, aggressive, and pushy. Jesus is in the stillness; He is gentle and inviting. Sitting in the quiet is very difficult for many of us. I found that starting with five minutes a day and then increasing in little increments gradually over time helped me a lot. This doesn’t mean your mind needs to be completely blank. For some it may mean sitting in the car with no music on for a bit or mediating on Jesus in the scriptures. In order to truly love someone we must learn how to listen.
Write Letters to Him: Sometimes my mind runs a million miles a minute, and I need to structure my thoughts out on paper. Perhaps you could try writing letters to Jesus. Tell Him how you’re feeling, ask Him questions, let Him know how much you want to love Him, or even thank Him for all the beautiful gifts He’s given you! Think of it as a letter to your best friend or possibly a love letter.
Apologize: When someone has hurt us, and they come back to apologize, doesn’t that make you feel better? When we’ve sinned and hurt Jesus, the whole reason He’s so sad is because ultimately we’ve hurt ourselves. A sign of a healthy relationship is knowing how to apologize. In Confession, we speak directly to Christ Himself through the priest. Speak your sins as if you’re apologizing to your best friend. It will bring you and Jesus so much closer!
Frequent Mass and Adoration: St. Greg’s has three daily Masses and perpetual adoration, which means that Jesus is always exposed and waiting for you. When we want to be healthier we need to start working out two or three times a week, at least, to help boost our metabolisms. If we want a healthier relationship with Jesus, come to Him multiple times a week, if possible, instead of once. The Mass and adoration may be “boring” for someone who doesn’t fully understand what’s actually taking place. Study up! Talk to a priest! Mass and adoration changed my life so drastically.
Love EVERYONE around you: Loving and serving others around you is loving Jesus. When you help a hurting friend, restrain from gossip, treat your parents well, or do extra little tasks for others, remember you are doing all that for Jesus! He is in every single person you meet throughout your day. When we hurt others, we hurt Him. When we love others, we love Him. If you want your relationship with Jesus to flourish, start by loving the people its hardest to love. Sometimes this means we need to start with our own families.
It isn’t always easy; no relationship is, but every day I fall in love all over again. I can’t help myself. This is a love so real, so true, and so firm in foundation it cannot be broken. I know the truth now, and I can never stop loving this Man! I never knew I had the capacity to love Someone this deeply, and I still have this whole lifetime ahead of me! My prayer is that everyone chooses this love, especially you! I challenge you to give Jesus a chance. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Believe me!
Your sister in Jesus Christ,
Maria Catherine Gianna Suchyna
Maria is a sophomore at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a member of the Daughters of Divine Mercy Household. She is studying Psychology to become a Catholic Marriage & Family Counsellor. A kid at heart, she loves "dad jokes", Oreos, a good hike, and climbing trees. Maria will never turn down a good conversation or dazzling sunset. She lives joyfully by the motto, "don't take yourself too seriously."