In the spirit of this exaggerated holiday~ that apparently has more to do with Hallmark than St. Valentine, I decided to pay tribute to 5 extraordinary lessons I’ve learned about love and the heart.
I think there is something very romantic about marrying in secret. Scott and I eloped nine years ago. It was the happiest day of my life. I had never been so sure about any decision (aside from buying the House on High Street) in my adult-life.
It was a beautiful celebration. I specifically remember that it snowed (just like today) the day after we married. As we drove home from the Four Seasons, we were so happy that we would be snowed in, together, for a few days.
Nevertheless, Scott and I didn’t exactly “ride off into the sunset.” As it turns out, falling in love and deciding to marry in just eight months was one thing…Dealing with challenges, especially after falling in love (without having a long history together) is quite another.
Looking back, it makes so much sense to me, now. I had been on my own and set in my way for almost five years. I was pushing my body harder than I was physically able. And while Scott wanted to spend more time together, I was giving more energy than I even had, to my career. I refused to listen to my body. As I shared in recent posts, it wasn’t until I literally collapsed that I gave up.
If that weren’t enough, I also felt like a failure in the “conception” department. It wasn’t until I was forty years old, that Scott and I felt “ready” to start a family. By then, I was diagnosed with several autoimmune disorders. After two failed IVF treatments, I made the tough decision to spare myself from going through it again.
As much as I wish I could have just fixed things the easy way, I realize that God allowed me to experience these challenges so I could learn more about love and my heart and just how extraordinary these two things go hand in hand.
Today, I am a stay-at-home foster mommy. I get to love on babies, every day. It’s a hard job, and I have experienced the most painful heart break. But, God has prepared me to be what I am, today. He’s preparing us, every day, for the plans He has in store for us. And, there are valuable lessons, along the way, that help us share love with others.
Lesson #1- There is a place in our hearts that ONLY God, the creator of our hearts, can fulfill.
For some of us, it is not until we are alone that we are in a position to seek God’s love. I need to admit something. I was showered with love and attention from the day I was born. God certainly blessed me with an extraordinary family and circle of friends whom would lay down their life for me. In addition, I grew up knowing (every day) that God loved me. My parents taught me this. I’m not suggesting that parents should refrain from this kind of love, assurance, and attention.
But for me, I needed an extraordinary circumstance to get my attention. It happened after Scott and I married. I recall the first time Scott and I went through a rough patch. I prayed that God would speak to my heart and show me what I was missing or what I was doing wrong. I remember visiting my pastor and his wife to seek Godly counsel. I was so convinced that upon sharing my situation, they would have affirmed that I deserved “more” from Scott. Rather, they asked me to read and memorize the Love Chapter in I Corinthians 13:4-8.
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…
All these years, I had been a Christian. Who knows how many times I had come across these verses? And even though I practiced most of these characteristics, I was missing the mark on a few.
For starters, I realized that I was self-seeking…maybe it was more like spouse-seeking. You know, when we try to get our husbands (or predestine our future husbands) to satisfy all of our needs. It turns out that God wanted to fill my heart in some of the areas I was longing for Scott to fulfill.
Also, during our difficult times, I would lose hope. I’m sure my divorce had a lot to do with this, but I struggled in a major way for years with sabotaging relationships. It’s almost like I would put it in my mind, “Oh well. This is hopeless.” Choosing to have HOPE was like finding gold. It is such a profound resource. I’m convinced most of us do not tap into this one enough. If we only understood…to HOPE for something pleases God. It’s like we’re saying, “Ok God, I made a mess of things…but I KNOW you can restore it.” It wasn’t until after I made a choice to HOPE for God to help us through our differences, our stubbornness, and our anger at one another that I experienced a change in my heart.
I wish I could say that it only took only one visit to my pastor and a few verses in Corinthians for me to put all this into action. No. I had a few more lessons to learn. (And, I am still learning, today.) But, once I allowed God to fill that spot in my heart, I gained hope and confidence. I am better equipped, today, to handle challenges.
Lesson #2 – Love REALLY does cover a multitude of sins.
We can choose to love others even if we are hurt. When someone disappoints me, whether it is the love of my life or an acquaintance~ I ask God to help me to lovingly forgive that person. Specifically, I may pray, “God, help me to see ____ as you see him/her.” It works. And it is a beautiful feeling in the heart.
If there is someone who you need to forgive, it does not have to be face to face. Even if the other person is unwilling, you can choose to forgive that person in your heart.
Lesson #3 – The LOVE of something more than God, whether it be money, our significant other, our children, our career, etc. can lead to bondage.
I think this lesson is most difficult to practice in our culture, today. God wants us to recognize these provisions and blessings. However, He wants us to yield to His purpose over our demands in getting more of something…whether it be more love from our spouse, our children, more money, more in our career, etc. When you find contentment in what you have and where you are, today, you know from the peace in your heart that you LOVE God above it all!
Lesson #4 – Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF does not mean to love your neighbor MORE than yourself.
I love others, and I always try to give others the benefit of the doubt. But, there was a time I didn’t take care of my heart. I allowed others to take advantage, take me for granted, disrespect me, etc. Nowhere in the bible does it say we are to allow this in our lives or relationships. If/when I recognize that someone is disrespecting me, my faith, my family, my patronage, my loyalty, my time, etc. and they have no interest in addressing these things, it’s up to me to choose how to respond.
I’ll continue to love. But, I will guard my heart, and preserve my time and my energy for someone else that respects these things.
Lesson #5 – Love is demonstrated by yielding to God’s purpose to be established in the person you love.
I think sometimes parents fall into taking on God’s role with their children. And some husbands/wives fall into taking on God’s role in their marriage. (I’m guilty of this one, and it is not fun playing God!) There is a distinction between loving someone and trying to control God’s plan around our own agenda. God warns how parents should rear their children in the way they should GO. Meaning, teach them and prepare them to be open to God’s special purpose in this world. The same goes for our marriages. The more I sit back and allow Scott to be the man he chooses to be, the more I see how God is showing off in Him! As a husband, a provider, a hard-worker, and a friend.
Valentine’s Day is a good day to reflect on lessons about love and the heart.
We all need refreshers from time to time. There is no such thing as perfect love outside of God’s love! The lessons I’ve learned, about love and the heart, have had more value in my life than any Valentine’s gift could have provided.
May we all grow in love and in our hearts this Valentine’s Day and every day of the year.