I believe that now more than ever, the world needs to experience love – a God kind of love – and all of us can be carriers of this kind of love.
I am the recipient of love but certainly not the model of it.
I hate to admit my limited success in being the carrier of love. I always have good intentions, but the results are not always what I intend.
When you experience real love, it can be hard to define, and yet, you know it's love. I think this is because love cannot be measured, exhausted, or even defined well.
Love speaks clearly of itself and may catch you off guard when you experience it in its purest form.
However, you can also be frustrated by love. Being loved when I felt unloveable made me feel unworthy. My love bucket wasn’t often empty because of this.
Feeling unloveable makes it challenging to love others. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and if you find it’s difficult to love others, it may be an indication that you do not love yourself.
Loving ourselves means to see yourself as valuable because you are created in the image of God.
There are many characteristics of love, including those found in 1st Corinthians 13. Below are some of my favorites:
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love is not jealous
- Love never boasts
- Love is not proud
- Love always honors
- Love is others first
- Love is not easily angered
- Love does not lie
- Love does not rejoice when bad things happen
- Love is happy about the truth
- Love endures, believes, and hopes
- Love is steadfast and faithful
This list can be daunting to me because as I look at each one carefully, I am unhappy with how I would score on these.
Throughout my entire life, my prayer has been to be loving in every way and every circumstance. I'm still praying that prayer today.
Love is truly a lifetime assignment, and as we practice, we mature in love.
When you love someone, and it is not received, remember love bears ALL things.
When you love someone, and they reject it, remember love is steadfast.
When you love people right where they are in life, remember love is patient.
When you love people who cannot love in return, remember love is kind.
We also must understand the different levels of love.
Acquaintance Love is loving the person at the grocery store, the bank, or in the workplace.
Friendship Love is loving others in your circle of friends.
Marriage Love is loving your spouse while living in the same space every day.
Family Love is loving the differences between all family members.
Child-Parent Love is loving your child when they're good or bad.
Sibling Love is loving when you would rather argue or fight to have it your way.
Whether you're a giver of love or the receiver of love, most of us recognize the difference between fake or real love.
Careless love is fake, and real love is challenging!
The degrees and reasons to love come from the same source – God is love. God will help you choose to love even when it makes no sense because love NEVER fails!
I've had many real love experiences. One experience that I will never forget happened decades ago.
It was late on a Saturday night, and a car pulled into our driveway in Texas. Much to our surprise, my brother and his wife had driven from Pennsylvania to surprise us! We exchanged hugs, laughter, and squeals.
When we asked what brought them to Texas, their reason was, "We came to support you.”
We had just gone through exposing my dark secret and the abuse by my pastor. I was ashamed and afraid of what my family would do or say when they found out the truth.
Since we lived far enough away, I was hoping they would never know. I found some comfort in the fact that I would not have to face my family and answer any questions they would have.
Suddenly the distance between us was gone. There I was facing my brother, who had driven 2000 miles to tell me he came to support us.
The surprise, joy, and power of real love felt like the rushing of huge waterfalls, like Niagara Falls itself, was washing over me. I could not believe, nor could I understand why he would do that for me.
At that point in my life, I was still too emotionally numb to express my deepest feelings of joy. All I could do was respond in shock and disbelief. They sacrificed to love us well.
My fear of facing my family and friends disappeared with the sacrifice of love that my brother and his wife made that night many years ago.
That's what love is, and that is what love does. The love I experienced that night was perfect, and perfect love casts out ALL fear.
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