I sit here on Valentine’s Day finding myself getting a bit frustrated every time I hear “Don’t worry, God’s bringing you someone soon…” as if love or my worth equates to being in a relationship. I know those who say it mean well, and I do appreciate them for it; but the truth is, I have been in relationships and I didn’t have half the love I have in my life today as I sit here single. Why? Because the real meaning of love is not found in a significant other; Love comes from God and He gives us love through the people he puts in our life. Sometimes it is a significant other; but sometimes its children, family and friends and even strangers in need.
I’m 48 years old and I think for the first time in well, forever, I have a good handle on the true meaning of love. According to Google the word love appears in the bible 538 times. My favorite chapter in the bible is 1 Corinthians 13 – the chapter on love. In that chapter we read “Faith, hope and love these three, but the greatest of these is love.” Think about that for a minute. Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion. To make Jesus marvel was a pretty good feat! And hope is the key to moving forward; but the bible says love is greater than even these two, why? Back up a few verses where you will read “If you have all the gifts of the world, but have not love, you have nothing.” One can have fame and fortune, a large house with people residing in it. On the outside it appears they have it all, but on the inside loneliness is a resident if there is no love.
Love has truly been the key to the miraculous change and blessings in my life. Some of you reading this are thinking “love” was the change? But you lost love, you are single. How did love change your life?!? And that my friends, is the biggest misconception of all; that you can’t be single and have love in your life. I have more love in my life and feel more peace in my soul sitting here today single, than I often did on days I celebrated Valentine’s Day with a significant other. Admittedly, that first year or two being single Valentine’s Day used to make me a bit sad and lonely, and it took me awhile to get to this place. It doesn’t always just happen overnight. For me it’s been a journey. But this year, I sit here with no sadness, no loneliness, nothing but joy and love and hope in my heart. Yes ladies, you can do that without a man in your life! Or men, without a woman. How? Keep reading……
To truly be able to love someone else, you have to first love yourself. This self-love keeps one from falling into relationships that are unhealthy or for looking for worth in the eyes of another. You know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and deserve nothing but God’s best. You refuse to settle for any imitations striving to find only the original; the lover of your soul. When you pursue God instead of a relationship, you start to realize who you are. That you are unique and special and you deserve someone who recognizes and appreciates that. And then, when the time is right, you will meet that person who appreciates you and you will be blessed with a good, healthy relationship.
I have told my close friends that most days I feel like this modern day hippie “I just love everyone”… and once that transformation took place, I went from feeling alone and lonely to having more love in my life than I could have ever imagined! I have more friends than I have hours in the day to keep in touch with them like I wish I could. Yet just two short years ago I sat in my apartment alone, depressed and lonely while it seemed like the rest of the world was out living, loving and having fun. I was sure God was going to answer my prayers and cries of loneliness by bringing me a man, another relationship. Wrong! He had other things in mind for me….. He was going to show me what love really is, and then when the time is right, a relationship.
How did I get to this good place? I loved like Jesus loves and the key to that is forgiveness. If you have a daughter or even know a girl under the age of 15 chances are you have heard “Let it Go” at least a hundred, if not a thousand times in the past year. Those three words are the key to finding this true love I’m talking about. You have to “Let It Go”:
Forgive yourself – this is the first step in loving yourself. When you ask Jesus into your life and you pursue God you stand on the promise: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 Your slate is wiped clean. The devil knows your name and will call you by your sin to try and keep you from moving forward. But remember, Jesus knows your sin, but calls you by your name. You have to put the past in the past and leave it there – “Let it go”!
Forgive Others – You have to forgive others or you will never have love in your heart the way God intended. I was surprised when I was mentoring a young girl once who had been hurt by the young man in her life. I told her, “You can forgive him, but forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to let him back into your life.” She was amazed at that revelation which surprised me and made me realize; People sometimes confuse “forgiveness” with “Going back to the way it was, or letting others continue to hurt you.” That’s not forgiveness, that’s repeating a bad behavior that keeps you in the midst of turmoil. You forgive them, but move forward. The forgiveness is not for them, it’s for you. Forgiveness sets YOU free. It may never change those who have hurt you, in fact it likely won’t, but your heart is free of hate and anger. As long as you carry those around with you, you will not move forward. Once again, you have to “Let it go”!
In the New Year’s eve service Pastor Darlene said something that stuck with me when she spoke of this verse on forgiveness: “Jesus said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22 Sometimes it’s not that you have let that person hurt you 70 times, it’s that one offense can hold your thoughts captive and try to ruin your day many times and you have to forgive for that same offense over and over. Think about it. We’ve all had someone who has said something or done something to hurt us. Once you forgive them, you have to let it go. But there you are two weeks or two months later driving along in your car and all of a sudden, Bam! The thoughts of what they did start to creep in again. If you give place to it, if you dwell on it, it is going to anger you all over again. It will ruin your day. It can cause you to start thinking about revenge and how YOU will handle it. If left unchecked, it will steal YOUR peace. This is where you have to forgive, again. Where the 70 times 7 comes into play and you don’t let those thoughts hold you captive. You have to tell yourself “I forgave weeks ago, I’m letting it go.” You fill yourself up with thoughts that are good until there is no room for the bad. Our mind is the devil’s playground. I have a post-it note on my computer screen that says “What you don’t focus on can’t dominate you.” My heart breaks when I see people who are trying to find peace but whose Facebook posts are evident they haven’t “Let it go” as you read; “I got my feelings hurt again today.” “I am so mad.” “I’m going to tell them what I think…” all evidence that un-forgiveness and negative thoughts are continuing to hold them captive.
Be humble – I used to think that being humble meant being weak or meek. I have found that is not the case. It means not being haughty or high minded. In Philippians 2: 3-5 we read “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” I learned this lesson a long time ago in a work environment. I saw someone make a mistake and thought “Are you kidding?! I can’t believe they did that!” I soon found those thoughts would quickly be followed with my making a huge mistake in turn! A little reminder to me to be a bit more humble. It taught me to have empathy for the person that made the mistake. To want to help and mentor instead of judge and put down. That is being humble. That’s where you find love. I have a dream to speak at conferences some day and do great things to help people through a ministry. But I have to humble myself and be faithful in the small things first. Being faithful in the small things is where we learn many valuable lessons. It means I may write 100 or 1000 blogs before I write one that speaks to someone and changes a life. It means I may have to continue to help one person at a time until given a ministry that will help hundreds. And the key is to be truly good with that; to be thankful, every day, for any opportunity that presents itself, no matter how small. It’s when we stop asking ourselves “What about me? What am I going to get? ” and instead start thinking “What can I give? Who can I help?” that our lives start to change and love finds its way in. When I have those moments I feel a bit sad, frustrated and lost, I don’t have to look back very far to realize my thoughts had drifted to selfish ones of “What about me?”… Another of my favorite verses is “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40 There is truly no better feeling than when you do something for someone you know can never repay you, and you don’t expect them to. If you’ve experienced that, you’ve felt true love!
We live and die by the fruit of words – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” – Proverbs 18:21 Our words are powerful. If you constantly say you’re lonely and unhappy, guess what? You will be lonely and unhappy. If you say “I am blessed and highly favored and good things are coming my way.” Guess what? Good things will come your way! This was a challenge for me. I would find myself stuck in traffic and pick up my phone to post to the world that I wasn’t happy about it. But instead I put the phone down and thanked God that I wasn’t the one in the wreck ahead of me that put me in this traffic jam. I prayed for the families involved. I humbled myself and realized my agenda wasn’t more important than the lives that may be at stake in the wreck that lied ahead. God had really laid it on my heart that I had to NOT post anything on social media that was not positive or encouraging. And as I started putting thought into every post I wrote thinking “Will this inspire or lift someone up?” And if the answer was no, I didn’t post…. I started to see things change. As I stopped grumbling in my words and instead started finding the good in every situation, things started to change. I am far from perfect; I still fail miserably some days and have to ask for forgiveness. My most recent spiritual spanking? The complaints in my mouth and heart about my job. God spoke to me and said “I have promoted you beyond your education. I gave you this job so you can support yourself and give back to others. How would you like it if you gave someone a nice, expensive gift and they handed it back and said “Yeah, I don’t like it.”…. Ouch! I had failed, miserably. Thankful God’s mercy is new every day. Now I thank God for not only having a job, but one that provides me the opportunity to live on my own and give back. Another example of where I needed to be a bit more humble… When we have an appreciative heart instead of an ungrateful one, in every situation, that’s when love starts to find its way in.
What love is not: It is not anxious nor fearful. It does not rely on any material possessions or status. It is not sex and feelings without trust and intimacy. It is not finding your worth in someone else or contemplating what they can do for you. In 1 Corinthians 13 we read that “If you have all the gifts of the world but have not love, you have nothing.” So what is love? Love is the greatest gift of all! “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. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Here’s to all my friends and readers, single and taken, finding and being blessed with “True Love” in 2015!