Don’t instantly check out as you see our topic at FACETS this month. Yes, it’s about love. But perhaps God wants to speak something new to your heart through the words He has given Kim, Jennifer or myself. And you’ll definitely want to see what my friend Zolei shares on the topic of love in week four!
February. The month of love. But what if we aren’t in the mood? Sometimes that’s the case. Right? We know we should love, but we just don’t want to. We know we might be missing out, but we might avoid the muddy mess of it all too.
Who do you love?
Do you even want to? Or are you sick of trying? Maybe all you want to do is snuggle up with your dog. Show me an animal lover and you may see someone who’s been deeply hurt and finds it difficult to trust humans. (I may know a thing or two about that.)
Let’s face it. Love can be stickier than cotton candy. Love can melt our heart faster than chocolates left in the car on a hot summer day. Love can be messy! Love can leave a stain that makes us think to ourselves, “Perhaps it’s easier to just steer clear.”
Maybe your line sounds something more like this, “I’ll just deal with this empty, dry, loveless relationship until death do us part. I’ll endure it, but I won’t enjoy it.”
Friendships that sour and leave a bitter taste in our mouth. Loves lost, but not before first leaving us scarred. And scared. Familial love that didn’t look like it does in the bedtime stories of children safely nestled in their beds, mama and papa tucking them in before the child drifts off in dreamy slumber.
Love is not always easy. Love is more likely almost always hard. Love is work. Love isn’t the stuff of romantic comedies or fairy tales. Love is the stuff of in the trenches digging in and doing what’s right. And getting up the next day and putting loving well on repeat, not missing a beat. When we get it wrong? Fess up! Ask for forgiveness. A – pol- o – gize
Love is leaning in with intention. Love isn’t leaving when the going gets tough. I didn’t always know that.
My hope and prayer for everyone who finds this blog is that you realize while love isn’t easy, it’s possible and even necessary. Please, please don’t close yourself off to the idea of love. It’s not too lofty for anyone. It’s not too late.
Hope for authentic love is not lost. Whether that love you so desperately desire is for a partner, a friend, a child, a parent, or someone else, love is possible for you. But it will take some work on your part. I’ve done some work in that area myself.
But lean in to hear this…
It was worth it!
The hard work was absolutely worth it! I’ve walked through some love land mines. I could have been blown to bits, but I’m here. Still breathing. And smiling. Most days, heart full. And when it’s not, I run to Jesus and let Him fill me with His love, so I can operate from a place of confident boldness. I am loved.
I am loved! Which makes me able to love!
You are loved! Which makes you able to love!
If you haven’t received Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are loved!
But you don’t have access to His power and ability to love others well. It’s only when we accept Jesus into our hearts that we are given the Holy Spirit (God in us). We don’t have strength to love the difficult people in our own power, but in God’s we can.
And you aren’t in your pursuit of love alone. God is love. God desires love for all His children. We were made to love, because we were made in His image.
If you want to receive Jesus into your heart, pray a simple prayer of surrender. “Jesus, I want to know You and Your love. I want to know how to love others well. I want and need Your power to do so. I give You my heart. Please help me to receive Your love and guidance for my life. Help me always to remain in Your love, power, and soundness of mind. Help me to be bold in my faith and in my love for You, myself, and others. Give me confidence and the ability to overcome my fears. In Jesus’ name, amen!”
Most of us are probably very familiar with the greatest commandments to love God and love others as ourselves. (See Matthew 22:36-39) Love coded into our DNA by design. When we go against love, we go against the grain of God’s plan for each of our lives. If we resist love, we resist God Himself.
By the way, one can be IN a relationship but not act in a loving way. I know we are all aware of this, but it’s worth mentioning. Just because we are partnered up with someone romantically or just because we are in a friendship with someone, doesn’t mean we are in a love relationship with them.
We can treat our friends less than loving. We can be unloving to our spouse. We can show our worst side to those closest to us as we show our sparkly, shiny selves to those further off in the distance.
I’ve been in ministry long enough to see, one never knows what goes on behind closed doors. If that’s you, sitting behind a door that you’d be completely embarrassed if someone peered behind and saw what really goes on… love is not too late for you either. Promise! It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Redemption ALWAYS is!
No relationship. No disillusioned love is beyond hope. Hearts still beating? Hope’s still lingering! If there are old wounds to clean up, do so. It might be more work than if you were a newlywed, but God will help you. HE IS BIG ENOUGH! Don’t give up! Don’t throw in the towel when God is fully capable of cleaning up any mess we make!
Bounty may be the quicker picker upper, but God is the master cleanser and restorer. He not only cleans up. He makes new. Somehow better than when we first began if only we’ll hand our mess over to Him, and follow His lead as He helps us love well.
How do I know?
He’s done it for me! And He does it for me! (Because it’s a daily thing.)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.─2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Some of you may know my story, that I was married before – and lost everything. Everything. But in the losing of─well─my life, I gained everything.
The gain was instant and gradual all at once. I was flooded with God’s love. A love so genuine, sweet, and authentic that it felt foreign – false almost. You know. Too good to be true. Only thing is … it wasn’t. God was (and is) good for His word. That felt foreign. Someone I could trust. But I could. And I can.
In the beginning I was terrified to trust God, or anyone else. I’d always trusted myself – trust your gut – until you find out that’s not the most reliable source.
I was so afraid to love, I almost lost it!
FEAR LIMITS LOVE
My fear of getting hurt by another human almost left my heart walled off from receiving a sweet gift from God. I have been gifted a wonderful second chance in a godly marriage.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Almost seven years down the line, I’m glad it did! And I’m so glad God understood my fear (and its source) and in His mercy and goodness made His plan for my life abundantly clear.
The Scripture above says God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.
Fear is from the enemy who wants to keep us isolated and alone. Love is from God. He is the source of our love. He gives us the power to love, on the days when it’s easy. And on the days when love takes work. Real life is made up of both.
Sometimes we can’t love in our own power. Those people that grate on our very last nerve. Like nails on a chalk board. The ones that aren’t easy to love are still lovable in God’s sight. Who do you love? You love them too!
That’s the kind of love we can’t do in our own power. That’s supernatural love.
Our scripture goes on to say God gives us a spirit of power. His power. We’re not in the business of loving the prickly ones in our own power, but His! I may have muttered quietly in my head a time or two, “Help me love this one well, Lord. Because if it’s up to me …. well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to blow it!”
An excerpt from the Message 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
“God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
When’s the last time you thought of love as being sensible? A gift? Perhaps. Bold? Sure. Sensible? Huh?
Sensible love is a gift.
Long after the adrenaline subsides and relationships settle into pleasant companionship, relationships of genuine concern, love roots in sensible plots of land. Flowers bloom from season to season. Soil fertilized well. Relationships fortified. Forged strong from some rough patches weathered well together. Fragrant blooms of fresh cut flowers still … because love and life aren’t assumed but invested in.
Who do I love?
I love God. I love others. I love myself, because not doing so is a form of insecurity and pride that is rooted so deep in fear that can strangle out love’s possibility for growth.
And I want love to grow.
So I’ll weed and water, preparing the soil of my heart to be ready to give and receive love.
In God’s power as we love others, we are not only giving gifts. We are receiving them too. For almost certainly what we plant, we will harvest. The more love we plant and nurture, the more love will grow, and the more we will receive. Pressed down. Full to overflowing.
I pray bushel baskets of love filled to capacity for you, sweet friend! I pray you are able to access God’s power (because it’s there for the asking) to love others well. And I pray when you do the hard work of loving others well, you see a bountiful harvest. And if you’ve been deeply hurt and are afraid to love, really love, that you are given a boldness and discernment from God to know who to trust with your heart. I pray God gives you spiritual eyes to see who will love you well. (Because God showed me and He was oh-so-right!) In Jesus’ name, amen!
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