As I ponder this question- What is love? - a smile slowly stretches across my face. It's something so abstract and multifaceted, it's hard to put words to it. But, we all know it exactly when we see it.
A dad meeting his newborn for the first time.
A friend hugging you, encouraging you... after a failing grade.
A stranger at the grocery store covering the $8.67 you're short after being too sick to work last week.
A wife winking at her husband as he cooks dinner.
Love. It's perfect. It's all consuming.
Yet, today I see so many get it so very wrong. Women settling for less than they were created for. Men getting stuck in society's game, side stepping what they were created for.
Lust. Games. Confusion. Commitment free. Broken. Lost. Dirty. Loose. No strings. Booty call. Swipe right, left. Drinks. Sexting. Hiding. Non-exclusive. Shame. Fast. Irresponsible. Rude. Easy. Sex. Porn. Zero-expectation. Shallow.
^^ These cover much of the love I experienced in college. Shallow, no strings, rude, shameful, constantly confused. I settled for what I thought I deserved. And that love was dirty, broken, and full of games. I spent countless hours grappling with this reality I had allowed and created. Why? Why? Why would I keep letting this happen?
Truth is, I had zero experience with healthy love. I knew nothing but divorce, division, and an overburdened sense of being baggage. But I tried to fill my need for love regardless, and I did so with whatever I could get my hands on. No one had showed me I was worthy of more than that, and the smallest bit of right (even though the rest was all wrong) was better than nothing at all.
Fast forward to college and I filled that ever growing gaping hole with some really awful experiences. Some long-term relationships, some short-term, some super short-term - like one night - and it all felt increasingly wrong.
So what was the turning point?
I couldn't escape the broken places. All of me was broken. There was no more of me to give, just shattered pieces. It was in that place I took a journey of discovering what made me, me. What was beautiful. What was missing. What needed transforming. What was self-destructive, and who contributed to that destruction.
It was a slow and painful unfolding of the errors of my ways, and the woundings that had taken place from childhood - and my reactions to them.
And it wasn't until I discovered true Love that complete healing, and revelation of who I was and I what I deserved took place.
I remember the day Love penetrated my heart in a new way:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. it does not demand its own way. it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. it does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
This is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. It's probably one of the most highly quoted set of verses in the Bible because it perfectly describes love in action. But it does more than that.
This love specified in the Bible is the exact love Jesus Christ gives to each and every one of us. When we're in the dirtiest places of our lives, shame filled and broken, He never gives up, loses faith or hope in w
ho we are created to be, and He continues to love us through every moment of our lives. There's nothing we can do to cause Jesus to turn from us, call us a nasty name, then never talk to us again.
That was the love I was looking for all along. That was the key to filling the gaping hole in my heart. I was already loved with a brilliant love, and I just needed to recognize it.
It changed my whole outlook on Love.
Today I am loved by my Savior, and I am in love with Him. And in effect, I've discovered real love in people around me. I married a man who is patient and kind, who holds no grudges - even when I left out my blow dryer, straightener, brush, and make up, again. He celebrates my successes, and encourages me when I fail. We've endured death and life, buying a house, and our very different careers. He does not give up on me, on us, and above all on God.
Six years ago I never thought I would deserve someone like him, nor had I ever thought anyone like him would value someone like me. But here we are.
I want you today to take sometime and reflect on what love is, and absolutely what love isn't. The love you're in, is it real? Or is it a sad imitation? Does it fill you with promise and joy? Or confusion and dread?
Don't settle for less than you deserve because you are so brilliantly loved to begin with.