So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Hi everybody! I pray you all are blessed. I had initially thought to record this…but I’m in no condition to do that right now. So let’s jump right in.
Over 5 years ago, on March 22, 2010, I was home in Columbia, at Richland Memorial Hospital with my family, in a chapel. Hours before, my momma and I were home praying. Doctors called us that morning and told us that my daddy was almost gone. My momma couldn’t make the decision to take him off life support. God spoke to my heart that day to speak from 1 Corinthians 13. I only read the chapter and I knew what God wanted me to say. I spoke that day in front of family and friends with my momma behind me about how God had taught how to love by witnessing His faithfulness through the love my parents had, even up until my daddy’s death. And God gave us the greatest gift in seeing my daddy kiss my mom one last time. Shortly afterwards, he took his last breath.
Fast forward 5 years and 5 months later to today, August 22, 2015. I’ve spent the last 8 weeks learning about love, or rather, identifying the things that have come to block me from receiving love. God had me on a whirlwind journey…meditating, praying, drawing, coloring, singing, dancing, sitting on the beach, just getting to the depths of myself so that He could open me up to receive His love. I realized the one thing I wasn’t doing all these years was actually allowing someone to love me, to be vulnerable, to need someone else. Hindsight is 20/20, so I see He put me right in the places where I would need other people, where I would be reliant on people for shelter, for peace of mind, for unconditional love, specifically right now. And as this is the last week of my course, God saw fit to gift wrap all this with a bow.
Along this journey, I’ve pulled down strongholds and lies, given up my worries to God and left them in a box for Him to handle. It began in 2011 with God taking away that intense anger I had by teaching me to forgive. But this process took me deeper and did a cleansing, repairing and healing work in my heart. This week, before I could even speak it aloud, He answered some of those prayers. During this time, He helped me to feel, to breathe, to understand, to not feel judged, to not question myself, and to actually live. I’m no longer consumed with getting married because I know it will happen. I’m no longer afraid to get married, for fear of marrying the wrong person or failing at marriage because God has freed me from that fear. I no longer fear making the wrong decisions because I know enough to take everything to God in prayer and to trust that the answer will come and be revealed in its due season. I know enough that God did not give me these dreams I have in vain, because He knew He could trust me with them. So this week, God answered countless prayers, but He answered one in a way I never imagined.
I woke up 4:35 on Thursday am. I normally wake up to go the bathroom, but this time was different. So I prayed in the Spirit and fell back asleep. When I finally woke up, I literally wondered why God woke me up and went along my day. By some bizarre occurrence, the power went out at work and knocked our internet off. I went to the restroom and came back and was told to work from home. I lingered for a moment and left. I thought to go to Starbucks but instead came to my brothers. I got there as my sister in law pulled up. I came inside and sat downstairs. My little brother got home shortly afterwards. Then I got a message from my mom…a video she found of my daddy playing with Parker. This was from 2009…they used to keep Parker for me while I traveled for work. I hadn’t seen him really alive like that since then…because he began slipping away from us at the end of 2009. It was raining, and I was supposed to see my friend to the airport so I couldn’t leave. God made sure I was in a safe place, around love, to see my daddy again, to cry and laugh.
As I think about this week, and well the last 8 weeks since I’ve been 30 and if I’m real, this entire year so far, God has gone above and beyond to love me. Oh how He loves me, let me count the ways, lol…
Love is having me release the secret shame of being molested as a child and being able to minister to someone who experienced the same thing growing up immediately after. Love is having me "make miracles" by being grateful for every feeling I experienced and basically getting out of His way for Him to do the heavy lifting and moving…I actually began this at the beginning of the year with my happiness jar and took it further with Project Miracles. Love is having me spend the days up to my 30th birthday acknowledging and sharing the lessons He taught me, with it culminating by my releasing 7 white balloons at the ocean. Love is God answering the prayers I prayed the 40 days prior to my birthday in a way only He could. Love is leading me to do 10 days vegan towards the end of those 21 days and me losing the weight I had been trying to lose the previous 4 months, even after not being able to work out due to doctor’s orders. Love is me going to Cancun and losing my phone and finding it after trusting His voice that I would, including having complete strangers and my linesisters help me look.
Love is me sharing my testimony with people I know and strangers I don’t via videos and in person and being okay with it. Love is me acknowledging my feelings and letting go of someone I loved that didn’t know my worth. Love is me forgiving those who’ve hurt and betrayed me. Love is empowering me to apologize to those I’ve hurt and restoring friendships. Love is seeing God answer my prayers for my family before my eyes. Love is my being told this week that I don’t have to look for a job, should I decide to return to Atlanta, that they will find one for me. Love is going to an event for my dream company and receiving yet another shot at possibly working there and an unexpected gift.
Love is God manifesting everything I’ve prayed about by moving the mountains of bitterness in my heart. Love is God having me in a place spiritually where the very ones who hurt me the worse are people I am willing to accept back into my life–not because of guilt, but because I am healed and I know that I’m a different person so they cannot treat me the same. Love is recognizing the different people in your life and not forcing them to be more than they are. Love is recognizing when seasons and relationships change and still wanting the best for those people. Love is being all of you with no apologies and loving it.
Love is my going to the kidney doctor last week and my kidney function and vitals being the highest they have ever been in the last nearly 10 years, probably longer…in that alone, He reminded me of my prayers and faith for complete healing and that He is healing me. Love is my spending last weekend with my family and having the best time of my life, laughing and dancing at the wedding with my best friend, then Sunday getting soaked at Frankie’s for my niece’s 3rd birthday. Love is seeing my niece’s face light up over her birthday gifts. Love is my baby niece running to me to hug me or giving me a kiss every time she sees me. Love is the healing laughter we shared as a family on Sunday. Love is God answering my mom’s prayer to hear my daddy’s voice again…and mine to see him again. Love is knowing that God has positioned me to do just what He put in my heart to do. Love is knowing I don’t have to compromise at all, neither God’s instructions to me nor my desires. Love is manifested in answered prayer. Love is God answering my childhood prayers for a sister with two particularly special women and a host of others. Love is telling me its not too late to do those things I love. Love is receiving wisdom and sharing it. Love is taking your power back and recognizing it’s not you but them. Love is accepting God’s correction to make you better and knowing the difference between His correction and someone’s criticism. Love is having healthy boundaries. Love is listening intently to just listen versus to respond or have the last word. Love is being humble. Love is being open to receive Love however God chooses to send it. Love is telling me to endure. Love is knowing that this isn’t even the half of what God has for me. Love is being alive and living outside of your box to see the abundance and limitlessness of God’s love in all its splendor.
I’ve learned what love is not. Love is not controlling things or attempting to control or manipulate people, hiding yourself, ignoring your feelings. Love is not forcing your views on a person (1 Cor 13:5) or trying to make them change, but instead loving them as they are, even if they never change. Love is seeing who they will be, and praying that God brings them forward, but loving them right where they are anyway. Love is not rushing them to heal. Love is not holding on to frustrations with people but instead trusting them to the only person who can do something about them. Love is not painful, but people can cause pain. Love is not ugly, but when you look at it through the wrong lens, the picture in front of you can be distorted. For so many years, for me love was distorted and painful. Love was lonely. Love hurt. But thank God for new beginnings, healing, and restoration.
God has had me do so many things this last year…all appointed and directed by Him. As I welcome in this next phase of life with a lighter load, and all that God has in store for me awaiting me, I finally know what it’s like to let someone love me…to be in love with God. Once I stopped living the lie and living in the light, my perspective changed.
I spent a long time looking for love in the wrong places. I’m grateful for the day I turned to God. Love has changed me…healed me…freed me. Love like this is beautiful and makes me look forward to the ways He chooses to reveal His love for me in the future…but if He does nothing else, He has already done so much. I’m grateful for this journey and for how God has chosen to love me. I encourage you today to look at your life. Measure it by 1 Corinthians 13. Have you allowed God to show you what love really is? Or have you been creating a picture of what you think love should be? Anything less than what God has for you will always be unfulfilling. Anything less than your divine purpose will leave you searching. I’m glad that my story is my story. Of course I would rather I had not gone through the things I’ve gone through, but God has used everything, so far, to bless me. It’s so easy to give up when there is distorted love all around us. Even in some of our homes…love has been tainted and tarnished. I’m thankful today to know what love really is. I encourage you to take the steps necessary to find out!
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7