Saturday, March 22, 2014

Redefining Love

I count 7 items in my home that are mine. Seven pieces of furniture or appliances, etc... that I brought in from my prior life. Everything else I have been given.

All of it.

And my house isn’t some bachelor, college hodge-podge house. The items people gave me were legit: a washer and dryer, an incredible couch and these uber great leather chairs, my dining table, antique side tables, and much more...

Walking through my house each day, I am reminded about how much I have been given. That all I have, was and is a gift from people who know how to love on others.

I've always known I was loved, my parents made sure of it. But somewhere in my late teens to early thirties, my definition of love got really messed up...and much of it was my own doing.

Five years ago, I prayed, no I begged God, to give me another chance at love. That what I had experienced wouldn't be what I thought love was or wouldn't be the love I gave and understood and lived out.

I wanted my story of love to have a chance to be told differently.

I knew the pendulum had swung so far to one side, I begged God for Him to right it, to swing it back and rebalance it.

I wouldn't have ever thought it would take 5 years to do that...or I should say, I wished it would only take 5 days, but it didn't.

It's taken 5 years for me to somewhat, with mild confidence ;) say the pendulum is somewhat righted.

How did God do it?

He immediately brought in this incredibly tall, dark and handsome to settle the score...he told me I was beautiful and I was enough...that I was the greatest woman he'd ever met and the incredible rejection I had felt was now over. This tall, dark and handsome mended and reassembled my broken heart and we lived happily ever after...

Um, no.

No God didn't...

and I'm not bitter about it at all. Not. at. all.

Nope, God took a different approach. Go figure.

Coming out of divorce and feeling completely rejected and unloved, my definition of love was very much wrapped up in romantic love, spouse/friendship type love, which plays a huge part on a story of love, but it’s not the whole story...and God knew I needed the entire story of love retold in order for this one section to be righted once again.

God was intent on telling me the whole story.

God’s way to right this pendulum has been to use friends, parents, mentors, 216 ten year olds, a son, my job, traveling alone, heartache, disappointment, and even loneliness to teach me once again what love is.

He gave me what I needed, not what I wanted: nights alone, aching, crying, begging Him to take the loneliness away, to have nights so quiet, that then and only then, could I hear His answer...HIS answer to what love is.

His answer wasn't my tall, dark and handsome.

His answer was Himself. The One and Only who could speak into my heart and begin to mend it, over time, through His faithfulness and goodness, showing me mercy amongst pain, pain I needed to feel and see and understand.

I needed to learn and experience that He is love, and if I was going to get a grip once more in life and have a chance to live love out, then I had to see and know the Source, to feel His love, appreciate Hs love, to trust His love, and to be filled with His love.

Through time, I’ve witnessed love in ways God wanted me to see it, and get it, and do it.

He's brought incredible friends into our life that Cade and I can witness love amongst them, and theirs towards us. I can see marriages that are real and fun, and as I watch them,  it makes me less jaded, less cynical, and dare I say, even hopeful...

After Valentine's Day, a friend of mine was sharing how each year she tries not to build up the day in her mind, to remind herself  her husband and family share their love throughout the year and that's what matters (and it's VERY true - the love contained in that family is dreamy!) but she's always so disappointed in herself at how disappointed she is when the day comes to a close.

I told her I thought it was because for 364 days of the year, she lives the REAL deal. Her family does God's love all each other, in marriage, in parenting, in friendship...but for this one day, she buys the lie of the world, of culture, and that's all it is - a lie, so it leaves her disappointed.

The love the world touts and talks about and depicts is an illusion. The world hijacked love by creating an  empty and fake version; it created something that doesn't and can't exist. And I believe the emptiness she feels on Valentine's day is the disappointment most of us feel quite often because that's the love we've signed up for and live.

It's cheap, last minute and unintentional.

I love chocolate, but I don't eat it for the same reason, most women over a certain age don't. So, if buying a card that someone else wrote, a $10 box of chocolates I don't want and will throw away, and possibly some overpriced flowers from HEB on the way home is how the world says we show love to the most important people in our life, then that's a cheap, last minute, and unintentional way to live out love.

But, to go out and love on your hurting or grieving neighbor, to take a single mother's child shopping so he can give her something at Christmas time, to sit with your friend during chemo, to help carry the burden of a new widow, to snuggle up with your kiddos and laugh and read until midnight, to pray over them and for them as they are sad or nervous, to mow a single mom's yard every 2 weeks, and to take time and write a letter to a young man whose dad isn't there to usher in manhood with him, now that's love.

That's abundant, living and breathing love. That's the kind of love that turns boys into godly men and girls into godly women.

That's the kind of love that brings Jesus in and transforms...that love moves mountains, and that's the love God uses to redefine LOVE and usher in His HOPE.

God knew I needed five years for Him to tell me I was enough because I was His.
I needed to feel alone, deeply alone and heartbroken, in order for me to realize, I wasn't ever really alone because Jesus is always with me...really with me. Jesus would always show up, and each time He showed up, I discovered that I mattered. That He, the Maker of heaven and earth, valued and loved little ole me, and He believed I mattered.
Through five years, He's given me time, time to reformulate my definition of beautiful, to become less jaded or engrossed with what the world says is beauty.
Five years ago, when I begged God to give me another chance at love, if He’d have told me it would take five long years, I think I would have thrown in the towel. I wouldn’t have wanted to walk it out. I would have quit before I even started.

But now, looking back over these years...all I see is God’s hand working and holding and moving and carrying and loving...

He took something so incredibly broken and poisoned and gave it time to heal, to mend, to breathe, to rest, to catch up, to ask, to question, to grow, and to be moved.

So, wherever you are today, whatever your heart and mind believe or feel or are wounded by, because God is real and God is love...His HOPE sits right next to you in all of that.

He will lift you up.

He will walk you out.

And if you trust in Him, His time, His plan, and His love, then a life you never knew could exist FINDS YOU, and it's a gift undeserved and's God’s Grace.

May you seek it, may you bask in it, and may we all have no other desire but to share it.

In Him,

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