At the beginning of every year, I prayerfully decide on what I want to learn & focus on for the upcoming year. This year, I felt God drawing me to the word “love”. Realizing that I have a very skewed vision of what that means, I knew this was going to be a challenge. Nervously, I began my journey to understand what God would teach me through this season.
Growing up, my mother would frequently threaten to kill herself or leave if we did anything wrong. Although I always felt extremely loved by her, it really distorted my view on what unconditional love looks like. I yearned for everything to be peaceful and strived to do everything in my power to make her happy. Her threats became a reality when she did, in fact, leave when I was 14 yrs old. We did not know where she was for a year. Despite my best efforts, it was not enough.
My memories of my dad growing up were a dad who worked long hours, but the vision of his face lighting up the minute he walked through the front door & saw us have never escaped my memory. He would have weekly individual “dates” with my sister & I where it was all about us. I remember being so excited to dress up & go on adventures, just me & my dad. I felt so cherished, valued & loved by this man. When my mother left, my father shut off emotionally & began to seek fulfillment in moving onto dating again. When he met my stepmom, I was quickly pushed aside in pursuit of his new life and keeping his new bride happy. We began a long journey of him only speaking to me when things were good. Whenever I made a mistake, he would not speak to me or answer my calls. Sometimes for days or weeks.
Thankfully, I had parents who did, at some point, model what love looks like. And most importantly, they always instilled in me the value of my relationship with God & what a healthy relationship with Him looks like. No matter how alone or far I wandered from God, I always knew He loved me & would never leave me.
With time, I have learned grace & forgiveness of the human struggle that both of my parents experienced. I have made the choice to see the good in them & be thankful for who they always pushed me to be. I truly believe that the prayers they endlessly prayed over me growing up never went unheard, and God watched over me and kept me safe because they always put me in His hands. And I have learned that was truly the greatest act of love that they could have given me.
But this still left me not really having a good grasp of what love really looks like. The two people who are never supposed to forsake you and are supposed to love you unconditionally had both left me lonely & longing for the love & security that I once experienced.
I moved onto seeking it from men through my 20s. And with every mistake, every heart break, I was left more & more lonely. My vision of love became so unbelievably skewed. It left me more broken than before.
I took a 2 year break from dating 3 years ago to re-ground myself in God & re-set my perspective on what I was seeking in life. It was the best decision I have made & this season firmly planted my feet in what God wanted for my life.
But I still was not understanding what love truly means.
I started this year off envisioning that God would teach me love through meeting the perfect man & we would learn what it meant to give unselfishly to one another. Halfway through this year & a couple of dating situations that God shut the door to, I have realized what God has been trying to teach me all along.
Love is not about what others can bring into your life. It is not about fulfilling our desires in this world. It is a way of life that God commands us to act with in every encounter, with every person, every step of this journey. It is what we are to bring into this world, not what we should be expecting to take.
My tattoo says “ Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14) in french(just because it’s such a beautiful language) as a constant reminder that everything I do in this world needs to be layered with love.
That’s my ultimate life goal. To leave everybody I touch knowing what it means to be loved. Many days I fail. But I will keep working to do better each day.
To love others well.