How do you define love? There are so many examples around us. Are the examples surrounding you…healthy? We all have our own definition of love based upon how we have been treated and how love has been/is shown to us. Unfortunately, some of those examples can have set us up for people-pleasing behaviors, feelings of entitlement; someone else’s definition of love; becoming controlling out of insecurities, and searching for another person to make you feel whole and better about yourself. Like the title of one of my other articles, the relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for how you will allow others to love you. Can you recognize when you have been treated wrong? What do you think you have “to endure” for the sake of love? It all depends on the relationship you have for yourself…..and what you think you deserve. Living a value based life will lead to a more rewarding, satisfactory, and fulfilling life. Let’s start with a definition of love from the scriptures. It will reference the love you would have for yourself, others…and the community.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-6
Verses 4-6: “Love is patient”-To be human is to be full of error. We have two sides of us…a natural side and another side that seeks to be a higher version of ourselves….and to become whole. We are responsible for how we want to experience our lives; and we cannot attribute this to anyone else. If we have been abused in any way, it becomes our responsibility to seek out recovery or healing. If we try to give responsibility to someone else, we end up giving them too much of our power. We have at any moment to overcome anything that has been thrown at us, it is all inside of you. What tends to trip us up is caring too much about other people’s opinions. Due to someone else’s opinions, we can rush into relationships we are not ready for; we can get into a relationship with someone that is not good for us; we can get into relationships to hide from what is going on at our core; we can seek relationships for superficial reasons; we can get into relationships because society/family says this is what we should seek; we can get into inferior relationships to make us feel better about ourselves…and the list goes on. Seeking a healthy relationship within yourself requires a heart of courage, willingness to be uncomfortable, taking ownership of one’s emotions by not running away from them….and becoming physically, financially, mentally, and spiritually responsible for our own lives BEFORE seeking a life partner. Otherwise, you can end up allowing someone else to define you. Love should be a highly well thought out and intentional developmental task, and not taken lightly or impulsively. The love you seek will be the one you think you deserve by the internalized messages you believe about yourself. Do you want a love that invests in you…..or requires you to deplete yourself?
Love is kind-Are you kind to yourself? We all have certain areas we would benefit by working on, but are you kind to you. How do you speak to yourself-your inner voice, is it kind? Or does it echo what someone else has said? What do you believe about yourself? Sometimes, we internalize other people’s issues that we take upon ourselves. Unfortunately, some of our loved ones were not so kind to us…out of THEIR OWN unhealed parts. However, you loved them so much that you have taken their issues and internalized them to be yours. Knowing what is yours and what is someone else’s is important to having a strong identity. People will allow you to carry “their stuff” if you allow them to. Affirming yourself in a positive manner is a necessity….because your inner voice will steer your life.
Love does not envy-Focusing on your unique beauty, your gifts/talents; your intelligence…your portion that God has given you is essential to developing your own identity; to experience a sense of well-being within yourself. A person can look to media, peers, close loved ones and feel that you do not measure up. To know that you have all you need within yourself to enjoy this life will make all the difference in your life. Society and your peers/family reward certain characteristics, but this can lead to searching for outside validation….for the rest of your life. If you search for outside validation or approval, you can unknowingly attract others who will try to diminish you….to feel better about themselves. To challenge societal beliefs, to challenge your family’s beliefs about what is attractive, what is success and so on….can make all the difference between you loving yourself Vs allowing others to define you. Define yourself, then allow others to enter your life that solidifies this, instead of becoming a mental slave to someone else’s low self-esteem.
It doesn’t boast, and is not proud-People tend to boast when they think they have the leg up on someone else; when they have more or ‘better’ of something. However, is arrogance or haughtiness how you want to show up in the world? Usually, a person that boasts has underlying feelings of insecurity. What is known doesn’t have to be explained, so why boast about it? People also attract enemies by boasting. If you are a boaster, then you will tend to attract other boasters secretly in competition with you….and wish to knock you off your self imposed pedestal. Boasters also play off of each other’s insecurities, life is difficult enough; why invite folly into your life. This doesn’t sound like too much fun, does it? To make goals for yourself, accomplish them, to share in your blessings….are signs of a confident person who does not have to prove themselves to ANYONE. Always remember, what the Lord has given…can be taken away, so watch out for boasting. Be grateful for what you have while working for what you want.
It does not behave itself inappropriately-Human respect and dignity is essential for cooperation and getting along in this world. How a person treats another person, signifies what is going on INSIDE THEM. If you observe someone treating someone else wrongly, one day they will treat you the same way. Be thoughtful and cautious of who you invite in your life. Treat yourself well, so that others will know how to treat you.
It doesn’t seek its own way-Like I mentioned before, in this small world learning how to cooperate is necessary. Not to get our needs met, but also to help meet the needs of others. To get out of your own story and to empathize with another person’s story…is what it is to be human. Don’t allow this sometimes cold world to make your heart cold. Cooperate & compromise. Seek peace within yourself….and everyone else.
It is not easily provoked-Management of emotions. We all have had those bad days where we did not exactly manage our emotions well. How did that end up? We can say or do something that we will regret the rest of our lives. So, to learn how to manage our emotions is an essential life skill.
it takes no account of evil-It does not seek to wrong others. Remember, what you send out usually comes back 30-60-90….or 100 fold. Be careful. Have good intentions for others.
It does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.-Seek truth within yourself, and do not try to run away from it, hide it or deny it. I love the quote: “The truth may hurt for a moment, but a lie can do a lot of damage…and last a lifetime.” You owe no one anything, but your truth.
Scriptures for reflection:
1 Corin 14:33-“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
1 Corin 14:40-“But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
Psalm 37:23-“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and he delights in his way.”
1 Corin 7:33-34-“A married man (mankind), and a single man’s interests are divided. The married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-how he can please his wife. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs; her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.”
1 Corin 13:11-” “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I felt as a child; I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man (or adult)….I have put away childish things.”
~You are your greatest project, no one is coming to rescue you~