I never hang up the phone after speaking with my husband or children without the closing words, “I love you.” I never leave my home or allow my husband or children to leave without hearing me speak the words, “I love you.” I have an unwarranted rule that should any of us be called to our eternal home, I want the last words I spoke to be those of my love for them.
Love is the strongest of all the emotions we possess. We learn what it means to be loved at a very early age with familial love. As we get older, we learn other types of love; the love of a good friend, the love of a boyfriend, the love of a husband. The intensity of the love we feel can cause us to be overjoyed, preoccupied, irrational, or even catapult us into a natural high! I’ve heard it said that “the happiest people on earth are those who are in love.”
Love is all-encompassing for me. From a very early age I knew that I found great joy in receiving and giving love. My first grade teacher told my mother I was going to “wear my lips out” before I was grown, from all the kisses I gave her each week. I am by nature a very affectionate person and have always desired that affection to be reciprocated – to my detriment. From my innocent, tender, childish hugging, I transformed into a teenager with all the hormonal interruptions that go along with becoming a woman. My desire for love became that of a different nature. I had noticed the male species and I liked what I saw…I wanted a man!
I’ll back up here and give a brief overview of where I am assuming my desire for a man’s love originated. My biological father deserted my pregnant mother and me, when I was approximately age three. I had a sweet “Papaw” who filled in with the daddy duties until my mom met and married my precious stepfather when I was six years old. A wonderful man who provided all the creature comforts of home and also stability with a great environment in which to grow up. As wonderful as my dad was, I never experienced that daddy-daughter bond that I have since witnessed between my husband and our daughter. I am sure a psychologist today would analyze me and proclaim I had men issues from a young age. Whether or not that is the case, I only know I felt I truly had to be loved by a male. Thus, the detriment I spoke of earlier.
As a 15 year old girl, I persuaded my parents to let me go on a date with a 19 year old, what I considered, “man.” He was one good-looking dude and I was overwhelmed with the longings of my heart and desperately wanted him to love me the way I loved him. He enlightened me by informing me when you love someone, you will part with your virginity. Thus began the mind-numbing condemnation and a sense of urgency to make things right to avoid hell. I had given myself to him and the Bible says I must be married to him. The result of my mishandling this information was then becoming a 16 year old deflowered bride, and unfortunately followed with the stigma of becoming a 17 year old divorcee. I now felt unloved and unable to enter heaven. I had mistaken physical emotion for love.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
After numerous attempts at finding love in all the wrong places, six years would pass before I found myself once again compromising in my search for my elusive forever love. I would again marry to “appease the gods” of my sin nature rising up in my flesh. This resulted in a six year long loveless marriage that left me a twice-divorced, broken, and hopeless young woman. Throughout all the years in my search for love, I always bargained with God and had great answers to justify my behavior. Until this point, I felt I should not be condemned for poor choices I made since I was “in love.” I shouldn’t be held responsible for not seeking, first and foremost, the will of my Lord. After all, it was He who created me and gave me these raw emotions. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew when and where I had decided to travel a different path than the one He had ordained for me. I mapped out my own route and traveled it until I came to a dead end. It was at this final destination that I sought guidance from the only Man who truly mattered…my Jesus. My Savior. My Propitiation. My Man. My LOVE.
What I had mistakenly sought after for so many wasted years, was a carnal emotion that resulted not in feeling loved, but feeling empty. I just knew that no one would ever truly love me or be proud to have me as their wife. Who would desire ugly me? I was tainted; damaged goods. I was left with a huge void in my heart and until I realized that this was a Jesus-sized hole that only His love could fill, I would always be grasping at thin air. Once I experienced the warmth and comfort that comes from breaking down walls and allowing Jesus to pick up those broken pieces, I could understand true love and true joy. Now I could hold my head high and know that I had that ultimate love, that sacrificial love I had longed for all these wasted years.
Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust…”
He had always loved me. I just made the fleshly decision to look elsewhere for fulfillment. The Bible tells us the greatest emotion we have is love. It is the world that tells us it is physical love and/or romance that drives us. We sell ourselves short if this is what we consider to be the greatest form of love. Ladies, I urge you whether you are single or married, to look at what you personally define as love. Search your heart and mind to see what expectations you have for love. And above all, know that you are truly and wholly loved by your Creator. He knows the desires of our hearts and He can and will provide us with a love that sustains us and gives us a hope. Seek His companionship first and know that you have set the bar very high for any other men in your life. You may be single and seeking after a husband and, if so, I urge you to focus on your relationship with Jesus. He knows you desire a mate, so allow him to work out those details in His timing and His will. Maybe you are married and feel that you are in a stale marriage, or one that has “lost that loving feeling” (I know you just sang that in your head!). Again, focus on Jesus and your relationship with Him. I would encourage you to also pour out an abundance of love on your husband, even when he doesn’t seem to deserve it. Right your heart toward God and He will steer your husband’s heart. And lastly, if you are divorced or even widowed, know that God’s love is sufficient. Take time to spend time with Him, and let Him minister to your bruised heart. He knows you. He cares for you. He loves you.
I would be amiss not to mention what a wonderful gift the Lord gave me with my husband, John. We share a beautiful love that is as sweet, joyful and, yes, passionate as it was when we married 21 years ago. John chose to love me with the eyes of Christ. He didn’t look upon me with eyes that saw my filthiness, my regret, my sin. Instead he saw me as the woman God would have me to be. One washed white as snow with a lot of love to give. When I relinquished my life’s navigation to God, and shut down my GPS (Gina’s Partner Search) I was rewarded not only with a godly husband, but with a heart that has been made whole by grasping the greatest love of all, a love demonstrated by the shed blood of our Redeemer. Jesus laid down his life for me, and for you.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, enjoy the flowers, chocolate, or other niceties, but please don’t forget to take a moment to reflect upon our truest LOVE, that from our life-giving Savior.
“But as it is written:
‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
I Corinthians 2:9
By: Gina Emery