Falling in Love (With Jesus)

So this might be the first Valentine’s Day that I have been single since… I don’t know… fifth grade? (The only year I’m not sure about is 8th grade)

Crazy right?

Yes, I know. It freaks me out too. For Valentine’s Day and for a large portion of my life there’s always been someone, several very sweet someone’s who have blessed my life for both long and shorter seasons. Several of these relationships have even remained friendships after breaking up.

But my dating life is not the focus of this blog post. So let’s keep moving.

Today’s Valentine’s Day right? It’s such a fun holiday (considering I love the color red, could eat my weight in chocolate and am on of the most “lovey” people you’ll probably ever know). And yet there is this pressure that accompanies said holiday. It’s an underlying pressure to fill this longing we were actually designed to feel.

We’re all waiting for that somebody, that special someone who’s going to fall into our lives and turn everything upside down.

And it’s consuming. I’d bet it consumes a lot of your thoughts too.

I bet if you’re single, you imagine just who he/she could be, how you two will happily live your lives, how incredible and special “your person” will make you feel.

And if you’re already married or dating someone, I bet your life is just all perfect and lovely all the time because you and your person are made for each other.

Right?

Okay, so I was being somewhat sarcastic (because if we’ve ever experienced a relationship, we know it’s not always perfect and happy) but hear me in this: I loooooove love. I believe in marriage. I believe dating is okay (in the right context). I believe Jesus is incredibly sweet to give us another person on earth who will be the person who loves us most intimately.

But I also know that my future husband is not going to fulfill my longings. He’s not going to take away my sadness or shame or insecurities. We’ll probably even fight from time to time and he’ll likely make me cry (because that’s just what I do, I’m a crier.)

I think I tend to find myself dreaming, thinking, asking God to go ahead and bring the guy along because the season of singleness and waiting is often uncomfortable. It’s hard sometimes to be single when all your friends are falling in love. And it’s hard because I often buy into the lie that this guy is going to fix everything.

But what I’ve learned in this last eleven months of singleness (seriously, probably the longest I’ve ever been single since I started dating people. Crazy.) is that the waiting and the singleness is actually really sweet. The longing and the work that Jesus has done/is doing in my life is only cultivating my character. I’m not going to have it all figured out when ”the one” does come along, but I do believe that I’ll appreciate it all a little more than I would have if I hadn’t ever experienced this sweet season of my life. And believe me, there’s been some really hard moments. Moments where I haven’t understood why some guy wasn’t falling in love with me (because in my vain little mind, why wouldn’t he see me and instantly get down on one knee? Right?). There have been moments that God did something I never expected, even moments that I actually realized that this singleness is sweet, that it actually is worth it. It’s a crazy mix of emotions, a whole lot of good days and bad days, but ultimately, this season of my life has just made space for Jesus to move.

Being single has forced me to run to Jesus for my affirmation, love and affection instead of tangibly getting a fix from a boyfriend. It’s caused me to see relationships from the outside, given me opportunities to rejoice as my friends fall in love, and even cry with them when things have not turned out how we expected. Singleness has given me a chance to develop deeper friendships, invest my life in others, and even has given me a chance to find out what I actually love and what makes me come alive. I’m becoming who I was designed to be because I’ve had time to figure out who that is.

But above all else, being single has caused me to fall hard at the feet of Jesus.

Because without falling in love with him, without actually experiencing his goodness for myself (not just with another person), I’m never going to really appreciate or cherish falling in love with someone else.

Jesus is the greatest lover in the world. He pursues us relentlessly. When earthly relationships crumple, his love for us does not. When anger and misunderstanding lead to broken relationships, Jesus greets our faults and failures with the most tender love and understanding. He knows me because he created me. I don’t even have to explain myself. He just gets me because He’s deeply in love with me.

And one day He’s going to give me someone on this earth who will tangibly give me a glimpse of the love that God has for me. But for today, I’m waiting. And that’s okay. Heck, if it means I get more of Jesus I guess I’d even spend my whole life waiting. Honestly, I don’t really want that to be the case, but if it takes my entire life to find the one, or he never comes along, I will just have to trust that Jesus’s timing is way way better than my own.

I’m not writing this post to say singleness is the best thing in the world, or to say that I’m ready for this season to pass, I’m just writing to say that whatever season I’m in, whatever season you’re in, it’s okay. It’s okay to be single. It’s okay to never have had a boyfriend. It’s okay to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a husband or wife. It’s okay to be in whatever season you’re in. Whether you’re in a season of waiting or a season of plenty, Jesus is doing a good work in your life.

I’m writing to say that whatever season we’re in, let’s fall in love with Jesus first. Let’s look for our security and identity in Him. Let’s be pure in body and mind because He is pure. Let’s fall in love with the life He’s given us because life in His Presence is rich and good.

So if you’re dating someone, if you’re married, even if you’re single and desperate for your person to come along, I hope above all else that this Valentine’s Day you would fall in love with Jesus, that His Love would be even more real that any earthly love you’ve ever experienced. And I hope that your earthly love and relationships are filled with love for one another. I hope you celebrate the people you love today. That this Valentine’s Day, you would rejoice in your loved ones, that you would let others love you back. But above all else, I hope you know you’re loved by someone whose love will never fail. Jesus is never going to give up on you. I hope your heart just bursts with love for life that only Jesus can bring. And I hope that love just makes you come alive.

So happy Valentine’s Day friends. You’re loved today and always.

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“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” Psalm 63:2-5

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respondas in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’… I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” Hosea 2:14-17,19-20

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Let Others Love You

[So it’s been a while. Writing again feels like stepping back into to a relationship after a break. Except I didn’t fall out of love with writing, I just didn’t really have any words to say. Which is not necessarily true, but I was busy with school stuff and kept putting it off. But today is the day. The words are back.]

For the last few weeks, over and over again, one specific phrase keeps popping in my mind: Let others love you.

Which didn’t make a lot of sense the first couple times I heard it. But Jesus, I do let others love me. I have really great friends who love me really well. What are you talking about?

And still the phrase kept coming, whispering to my heart in quiet moments of my day. Let. Others. Love. You.

And I think I get it now.

I’m a pretty “lovey” person. I love a lot of people. I love a lot of things. But do I really love myself? Do I really believe I am valuable enough to be loved?

When I was in middle school (good times, right everybody?) I bought into the lie that for guys to tell you you were pretty, you first had to remind them how pretty you weren’t. I bought into the lie that tearing yourself down was a successful tool to get others to love you.

And somewhere along the way I started believing the things I was declaring over myself were more true than what my friends were saying to encourage me. And it messed me up for a really long time.

And while now, at my wise old age of nineteen, I see that was a terrible mistake, praise Jesus that those so call “truths” I believed for so long aren’t the same truths I align myself with today. I’m a new person, free, joyful, actually learning to love exactly who I am a little more every day. Those old chains don’t hold me any longer. And while I know we all come to terms a little more with who we are after we escape the perils of middle and high school, Jesus deserves all the credit for redeeming my life, for redeeming me. He’s just too good and sweet not to turn the attention back to Him.

Let’s swing back to this whole new “let others love you” revelation. Stephen Chobsky, in his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Read it; it’s a good one) says, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And how true that is!

When we believe we lack the value others see in us, we push back against the truths they are trying to speak into our lives. And that’s not what either party deserves.

Because here’s the truth: You are worthy of being loved.

Yes, you. You are worthy.

You deserve the love others are trying to give you. And it’s okay to accept their love. Because surprise, they probably actually mean the words they say (especially if it’s someone you dearly value and trust).

And it doesn’t matter if you think you have your life together or everything around you is falling apart. In every season of life, in sin and success, you are worthy of being loved.

I’m saying this because I’m learning it. I spent years and years pushing back. As if wax was in my ears and surrounding my heart when others were encouraging me. I might have heard the words they said, but I wouldn’t allow them to truly penetrate my heart.

I’m also saying this because I’m tired of being afraid of love. Lately, I’ve caught myself saying “Relationships are so hard.” and “Wow, love is so painful.” And while, yes, sometimes relationships (and I mean all relationships, not just dating ones) are painful and, yes, they can be hard, that is not the entirety of what relationships are. More than painful and hard, they are rich. Live-giving, enjoyable, full-of-learning, rich relationships. And it’s okay for people to love you. It’s not always going to hurt so bad. Especially when relationships are founded on Jesus and both parties are finding the bulk of their identity and security in Him instead of desperately clinging to the other person to provide all their self-esteem and encouragement.

And please hear me out, I’m not suggesting we fill ourselves with fluffy feel-good stuff to boost our egos. I’m not saying we should just try and make ourselves feel better or push back hard feelings so we can pretend that we are happy with who we are. I think that’s kind of silly and definitely not long lasting.

What I’m after (and hopefully you are to) is the head and heart knowledge of our value (our identity in Christ) rooted deep within us, secured deeply in the pit of our stomach, reverberating in our bones and in our soul. It’s the anchoring of our identity in who the Bible says we are, it’s finding out what makes us come alive and doing a lot of that. We need the truth of who we are to be called out of us and we need to hold tightly to the promises of who we are.

So let’s be people who love people really well, but let’s also joyfully and gratefully accept the love others try to give us. Let’s look to Jesus for the truth of who we are and let Him speak to us through the kind and true words of others. Let’s boldly accept the love we do deserve. Because, even in the midst of our unbearable humanness, we are WORTHY of love. No matter who you are and what you’ve done, Jesus came to die because he loved you. He saw your messiness, He saw your sin, He saw every failure and short coming and guess what? He died anyways. Because He. Loves. YOU.

So if you were questioning whether or not I was talking to you, I am. I’m also talking to myself. I’m tired of living in fear of letting others love me. It’s not worth the pain and the energy to push back any longer. Because I am worthy of love. I do have value. And if people choose to call out the value within me, they probably mean it. And they deserve to be heard and loved right back.

And from here on out, I’m letting others love me. I’m letting people speak into my life, I’m actually hearing encouragement, I’m even letting people give me physical affection (and you’re probably laughing if you really know me because this is a huge deal). Because it’s worth it. Relationships are worth it. Loving and celebrating who God made me and others to be is worth it.

Hear me in this: You are so deserving of love. People are willing to love you. So willing. And Jesus is even more willing. So let’s be fearless people. Let’s be people who rejoice in the love of God and the love others have to give. And let’s give it back too. Because when we really know what it feels like to be loved, we can really love other people too.

Last time I’m going to say it: Let others love you. You’re worth it. Always. Every single day.

Blessings my friends.

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(Just a few moments of snowy, cold glory I’ve experienced in the last month. 1. More snow than I’ve seen in a while in Boone, NC  2. The sky seriously takes me breath away every night  3. My new friends  4. Classic snow selfie: fearlessly and joyfully learning to let others love me)