I pray that all of you have had an amazing holiday season with loved ones. I personally was ill on Christmas and New Years (and my birthday), but it was a welcome time of rest for my body and refreshing for my spirit as well. I spent a lot of time reading. But I also spent quite a bit of time thinking about this post. It has been on my heart to write a post about this for a while, and I finally feel like I understand what God wants me to say.
I Just Can’t Say It
When I was a teenager, I was looking for someone to love me. I didn’t understand God’s love for me, and I felt distanced from my family due to different circumstances. The lack of love I felt finally led me to have difficulty saying, “I love you,” back when people said it to me. There was too much at risk when I said it. I became dramatically aware of this problem when one of my close friend’s mothers told me she loved me before their family was getting ready to move away. I was shocked that she said it, even though I had so desperately wanted to hear it, that I just stood there and said nothing. I remember thinking, “What is wrong with me? I’m supposed to be a Christian, an ambassador of Jesus’ love, and I can’t even tell this woman that I actually do love, that I love her too.”
If you are self conscious, you will understand me when I say that saying, “I love you,” was a risky phrase. Every time I said it was volunteering for rejection. Thoughts like, “What if they don’t say it back?” “Will they stop being my friend if I say this?” “Why should I make myself vulnerable?” raced through my head constantly. I reserved these three words for family and a few select friends. I was not willing to risk anymore of my already dwindling confidence. No matter how much I wanted to show people the unconditional love of Christ, I wouldn’t make myself be that open.
When Things Started To Change
Over the last few years, God helped me to deal with my insecurities (read this series all about it) and to replace my deceitful pride with godly confidence. Once I realized that God’s love and acceptance for me is all that I need, I was able to sacrifice my own feelings on His altar in a very open way. I started to realize that since I don’t look at other people or myself to give my life value, that I’m not risking anything I can’t afford to risk. Do my feelings still get hurt? Of course, but now I don’t see, “I love you,” as an opening for an eternal wound.
Unconditional and Selfless Love
The purpose of love is to show someone that you care for them in such a way that nothing they do can change how you care for them. Something I tell my kids often is, “I may not always like the choices that you make, but I will always love you no matter what.” This is the love that Jesus inspired by dying on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love by sacrificing His life. I believe that Jesus was also clear when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
We are commanded to love each other. The verse doesn’t say, “weigh out the pros and cons of loving someone and then decide if you should.” This verse specifically addresses the love between believers, but it also tells us that the testimony of loving others will identify us as followers of Jesus Christ.
What Is Love?
… baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Just kidding. I couldn’t help myself. But in all seriousness, what does biblical love look like? It is a choice that we make, whether or not we are going to care for someone, no matter how they treat us. Everyone will point to 1 Corinthians 13 at this point, because it is true. Not because it is some cheesy poem about love. This chunk of scripture challenges us to do the most difficult thing any person can do, choose to love in extremely difficult circumstances. Read more