In a world where a woman's acceptance so often seems contingent on her looks, behavior or talents, does anyone love her simply for who she is? Debora M. Coty answers that question with a resounding "yes" in her new book, Too Loved to Be Lost: Discovering God's Intentional, Unconditional, Without-Limits Love.
Q: The subtitle of Too Loved to Be Lost is "discovering God's intentional, unconditional, without-limits love."Why did you want to bring a message about God's love to women?
I believe women today spend a lot of time feeling taken advantage of, judged unfairly and accepted only within certain boundaries. The love we receive often seems conditional—based on our looks, behavior, talents or achievements—rather than who we are inside our skin. With the threat of losing acceptance breathing down our necks, our sense of security crashes and burns as our looks fade, we experience failure, our talents become rusty or ineffective, our achievements wane due to constant stress, the aging process or some other factor beyond our control. We need to know—really KNOW—there is One who doesn't condemn or critique us, but instead loves, forgives and accepts us—quirks, meltdowns, zits and all.
Q: You say many of the women you've met view God as a "stern entity with a huge frown and a big stick." Why do you think they see God in that way?
The perspective of an impersonal, judgmental god standing by to smite us to smithereens when we mess up is often based on harsh childhood experience we've had with an angry father, relentless coach or strict teacher. I think society at large tends to reinforce that way of thinking by expounding the philosophy that "the good go to heaven (get rewarded) and the bad go to hell (get punished)." Unfortunately, many people buy into this behavior-based theology and completely eliminate the crucial faith elements of Papa God's grace and forgiveness.
Sure, our heavenly Father is holy and just. He's righteous and wants us to be too. But that doesn't make Him a mean ole hulking principal stalking the halls with a big paddle. That is so not our loving Papa God.
Q: In Too Loved to Be Lost, you use a travel theme to illustrate life's journey. Why did you choose that thread to weave through this book?
The first and most obvious reason is the word "lost" in the title. I'm directionally challenged in the worst way to the point where Olivia (my Aussie-voiced GPS) keeps her metallic panties in a wad. She has taken to adding, "What in the WORLD were you thinking?" after the third "Recalculating." I once thought I heard her mutter, "Crimey. Just go home!"
The second reason is I believe most women experience the hopeless, helpless feeling of lostness at some point in their lives, perhaps after a devastating loss, severe disappointment or disillusionment with life. They lose their heart-compass and find themselves wandering in the spiritual desert without purpose or direction, or they may feel they're drowning in the relentless everyday stress-pool of life and can't locate the ladder.
I wrote Too Loved to be Lost to help support and encourage my girlfriends through those lost times with simple, easy-to-follow steps for joining hands and hearts and, with a little help from heaven, to recalculate their route to a lush, peaceful place where they can feel, enjoy and revel in Papa God's unending love.
Q: Have you ever had a moment where you felt completely lost? How did God come through for you?
Absolutely. More than once. Even on a single day.
Then there were several lost times that swallowed months and even years before I found my true heart-path again. One of these that I've spoken of in several of my books was the deep depression that followed six heart-wrenching miscarriages. My wounds were so painful and raw that I distanced myself from the Lord and my faith for two long desert years, during which I felt completely alone and utterly lost. At my lowest point, He reached down to me with His customized tender mercies and gently began chipping away at the rock that was my heart until it was finally replaced with a feeling heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26). I believe Papa God allows detours to happen in our faith journeys to show us deeper and higher facets of his limitless love.
Q: Women have a tendency to try to do it all and can be susceptible to burnout. What are some ways women can counteract the effects of burnout?
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