Jesus replied, "’You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
I initially began to write this on Valentine’s Day. And I thought about the significance of the that day, how to many people, that day is overrated, having been commercialized through the media’s sensationalism with gifts and chocolate (although I do not object to the chocolate lol). Some people go to great lengths to prove their love to their significant others through buying things, yet what I realized is that if we practice the above year around, there is no need to overcompensate on one day of the year. We need to put the focus back on God and thus allow Him to show us those acts necessary to spread love to others. And to do that, we must love others as we love ourselves.
For the first time in a long time, or maybe even ever since I was born, lol, I did not have ‘Valentine’ per se. Growing up, my momma and daddy always made sure we had gifts on Valentine’s Day because it was their anniversary. Yeah I had to shed some tears thinking of the memories today…there was nothing like it. We, well I should tell the truth and say me, lol, would cook them an anniversary dinner and little cheesy things, lol, doing things to let our parents know we loved them, and they loved us. In their own way, they were an example of this love I speak of should be like. Now, I am happily single for the first time in my life, although I do desire to be in a relationship someday. I have been allowing the process of healing and restoration going on within me to be completed, so that I can be prepared and ready for whoever God desires to add to my life. And I was thinking as I was reading through my devotional readings this morning, how can I show love to others, today and everyday from here on out? How can I allow God’s love to shine through me to a person that has never experienced it? I am a firm believer in the saying that like attracts like. For example, if you want friends you have to be a friend, so accordingly, if you want love you have to be loving, even to those that you do not want to love. Now this is difficult for me because I have to discern those to which God has sent and tasked me to versus those who have been drawn to me for other reasons; this was a common mistake of mine in the past. And truthfully speaking, being a sometimes introvert, sometimes extrovert, I would rather not be bothered with people outside of my friend circle, especially some of the people that I have met down here. So instead I decided to reach out to my friends and immediate family, letting them know that I love them and hopefully brightening their day, because it helped mine.
As I pondered this thought, I remembered how we are supposed to do things from our heart, seeking no recognition or praise, but do things with the Spirit of God leading us, guiding us, and loving through us. This is hard to do–loving others you do not know, forgiving others who have wronged you, being kind to strangers, and doing things to help someone to not be recognized for it. Let’s be real, most of us pass by the homeless men on the corner and keep on walking, I know I do because I rationalize and think about what they are going to do with the money, lol. This is wrong!!
So today in my thoughts (its obvious to you by now that I have full out dialogues with God in my head hahaha), I thought about the one thing we are called to do, regardless of our specific assignments. We are called to love. We are to love other unconditionally and we are to love them as we love ourselves. The beauty of the words above reminds me of the process I am going through. Over the last 5 years, my life has taken dramatic turns: graduating from college and grad school, moving back home to SC, transplant, break-up, new boyfriend, death, break-up, death again, and so many more painful things. During the course of these things, I have sought God to teach me to love others unconditionally. Of course to do that, I had to learn to love myself in spite of my imperfections. I had to forgive myself for mistakes I have made. For a long time I had self-esteem issues, stemming from a childhood trauma and just things that were said to me growing up. One thing I heard over and over again in my head were words from an aunt about my not being dark enough or me having to watch what I eat because I could end up fat and all sorts of lies that made me doubt myself and seek validation from others. I have learned to love me regardless of my complexion, my weight, the length of my hair, or even the size of clothes I wear, all because I have sought to know God’s love for myself so that I can love others. I think now I am in a place that I can do more of this sharing love with others thing daily, because I know what it means to love myself now. So with all of this said, haha, love yourself. Let God’s love teach you to love yourself so that you can adequately love others. Then no one can question your love on Valentine’s Day or any other day, because you will be a reflection of God’s love and give out love, and like I said, love will come to you.
For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:29 HCSB