To quote Forest Gump, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” I feel like I’m in the same boat in discovering and sharing what healthy love is and what it is not. These actions do not equal love and respect even if they say they love you:
Love is when you….
- Don’t ridicule or criticize their efforts
- Don’t use the person for your own personal gratification
- Don’t lie or cheat
- Don’t belittle a person’s values or opinions
- Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
- Don’t prevent or discourage growth in a person
- Don’t intentionally hurt someone physically, mentally, or emotionally
- Don’t expect your needs to be met without concern for the other’s needs
- Don’t dismiss their ideas or feelings
- Don’t shame or call names
- Don’t withhold or withdraw from a person without explanation
- Don’t isolate the person
- Don’t minimize their problems or fears
Just a few that come to mind….
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Jesus is the ultimate example. Love is not easy and love will get messy, just look at the cross. Love will take work, grace, and forgiveness. We will never get it perfect in our humanness, I know I haven’t. But, we can pray and ask Him to help us love in a way that pleases Him. We can ask forgiveness when we fail, and give it another shot. With Christ ALL things are possible. When our love tanks get low, refuel with the unfailing love of God and DON’T give up! If the love we offer is not received and/or returned, let them go. Letting them go is showing love for yourself and that is also VERY important. We can’t make someone love us but we are all worthy of love. Love never fails. DON’T forget that!
Extending grace and forgiveness to others can be extremely difficult when we feel rejected, misunderstood, or offended. As tough as that is, I admit I sometimes have an even harder time extending it to myself. When I lose my patience with my girls, say something I wish I hadn’t, refrain from saying something that I should have, or just plain drop the ball, the most important thing I need to do is embrace grace.
The devil loves to watch us squirm in guilt for our behavior. Broken records of criticisms in our pasts can wreak havoc on our minds if we don’t remember to embrace grace. I was raised in the church, but embracing grace is a relatively new concept for me. It helps me breathe easier whenever I remember to do it. It takes an enormous amount of pressure off when we remember that God knows our flaws and weaknesses and loves us anyway. That’s grace.
We are finishing up a women’s Bible study called “Believing God” by Beth Moore. There’s a five statement pledge in this study that we repeat together every week. 1) God is who He says He is, 2) God can do what He says He can do, 3) I am who God says I am. 4) I can do all things through Christ, 5) God’s word is alive and active in me. All so awesome! I love each and every one of them and if we TRULY believe them all we are well on our way to victory. But, I can say, the one we agreed is the toughest to believe is #3. I AM who God says I am. As women, we just feel like we fall short. We struggle with this one, I know I do. Maybe because we were told differently growing up, treated less than, let down, put down, used, whatever the reason….the devil loves to prey on us and our sense of worth. Bottom line is: God says we are worth dying for and He did just that.
If anyone makes you feel inferior, criticizes your personality, strengths, or weaknesses, they are not viewing you as God does. We are who God says we are and that is a beautiful thing. Not one of us is perfect, but we are all loved by a God who is. If He can lavish us with His perfect grace, we need to remember to give ourselves a drop or two when we stumble. Let’s see ourselves and each other as He does, children worth dying for.