A little over a week ago we talked about how we fight to earn our own value realizing what we are fighting is really our need for love. The need for love is difficult to admit because it makes us vulnerable. Many hate to need anything from anyone and their experiences have shown them that you can’t depend on others to meet your needs anyway. But the need for love clamors to be met however intense our attempts to ignore it may be. So we are stuck fighting with our need for love until it finds its filling, drives us crazy, or we are dead.
How does it find its filling? In this broken world, run by mistake ridden humans who will never be able to meet another human’s need for love completely, how does our need for love get met? We talked about the first and most important component last week…resting in God’s unconditional love.
The next component involves understanding two aspects of love. The first is that love is a verb—an action word. We must give love, there is ‘doing involved. Instead of just fighting to be loved we do the loving. We must choose the action of love.
Giving love looks very different depending on the circumstances and people involved. It can show up as grace, mercy, kindness, compassion, service, encouragement, discipline, challenge, perseverance, sacrifice and more. Each person has a language that speaks love the loudest to them. A large part of giving love is about studying the language and then taking action to use it with the people in and around your life.
Lots has been written about giving love so I don’t feel the need to spend much time with this aspect when others have done plenty of work with it. However, the second aspect of love often goes unrecognized. A couple of weeks ago this part of love was brought fully to my attention.
My husband and I were out on a date and as we were talking he said something I will remember forever. It was a moment of clarity when all the fogginess from a lifetime of feelings and experiences lifted and I could see clearly the colors in my life’s story. I don’t remember what the conversation was up to this moment, nor where it continued after, but the words uttered in between will forever change my life.
My husband said, “Tabitha I love you…but I can’t love you enough to make up for you not loving you.”
We’ve been together for over 18 years so he’s had plenty of time to try. He’s done an amazing job of loving me yet through all the years I have struggled to receive it. We have shared a beautiful love story for a very long time and while I have always appreciated him I missed seeing the fullness of us because I didn’t love myself.
Critical to our understanding of love is this, our need for love can only be met if we have the ability to receive it.
It’s utterly amazing how you can ‘know’ something but not really understand it. I believe very much that life is about growing, learning, struggling, hurting, healing and growing some more. It has taken me more than 20 years of growing and healing to get to this point. The point where I could listen to those words and for the first time really hear them—the comprehension sinking down, reaching the deep places of my heart and mind in a way that will forever impact where I go from here.
Then, like rain on fertile soil I read these words by Debbie Lindell in She Believes, “…until you believe that God made you just the way he wanted you to be and that he thinks your body, your personality, and your gifts are exactly what he designed them to be, you will not be able to live the life he intended you to live.”
Maybe your heart is ready to hear these words now too…
No one can love you enough to make up for you not loving yourself.
One of my constant prayers for my children is that God would give them confidence in who He has created them to be and that they would see themselves as He seems them. This is my prayer for you right now, in this moment, too. We must learn how to receive love in order to find victory as we wrestle with our need for it.
In Mark 12 Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments God gave us. The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. In Him you find the source of love. The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself…
You can’t fully love someone else until you have learned to love yourself and receive the love offered you. First from God, who sees you clearly and loves you completely. And then from the people around you who are loving you—though it may only be in the broken best ways they know how.
What keeps you from receiving love from those around you?
Why do you struggle to love yourself?
What might happen if you prayed every day that God would help you see yourself as He does?