Love… What comes to mind when you read those four letters? Does it arouse positive feelings or does just the thought, make your stomach churn? Do you think about it as a word of endearment a friend or family member spoke over you? A bouquet of roses sitting on your counter? A messy yet precious picture that your 3-year-old painted?
Or are you haunted by a shattered illustration of love consisting of screaming and constant fighting? A person in your life that said that they loved you, said they would always be there for you, although in a moments’ time, they walked right out of your life and did not even look back.
In our world today, we have so many associations tied to the word “love” carrying both positive and negative connotations. The secular world is constantly bombarding you and I on all sides, molding our minds to believe love is defined by the number and cost of the presents we receive at Christmas and birthdays. Love is having “fun” and experiencing each other intimately one night, although finding someone else the next. Love is rushing out the door to see your favorite sports team play, completely dressed in all the latest garb and ready to scream your heart out as you cheer on the sidelines. The movies and TV show we watch, music we listen to, video games we play, the magazines/books we read, as well as the topics we choose to view and look up on the internet. All paint pictures of love.
Although often these sources are conflicting. Therefore, we are left utterly confused. What is love actually? I mean when we really get down to the heart of it, what is love supposed to even be? What does it mean?
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, love can be defined as a “strong affection, enthusiasm or devotion for another or the object of attachment.”
Thus, as we analyze this overly abused and misused word, it is my goal to get back to the heart of love and realize it is truly not just an emotion, an object, or a thing that happens when you meet someone you like… Rather, love is a person, and His name is JESUS.
I can remember one night in particular when I was 22 years old, lying in bed with tears rolling down my cheeks saying, “I hate my body. I hate my body.” This pattern continued for many months as I continued to become increasingly sick. Although one day, a co-worker emailed me with the link to a video. She simply said, “Watch this.”
Curiosity got the best of me and as I sat on my couch that afternoon, tears streamed down my face in shock of the young woman on the stage knowing and having been through what I was experiencing. As she spoke, three different scriptures were referenced. Thus, I would like to talk about them.
In Mark 11 verse 13, we read, “Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it... So, the next morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Nonetheless, we first glean the truth: When we curse things, they die.
The second scripture was John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Then we look to Matthew 22:36-40. As the disciples are eagerly following Jesus around and listening to his teachings, one day a disciple asks, Jesus I know you have said many awesome and important things, but out of everything, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
We have all heard and read many messages about the priority of loving God and even the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Although, we often miss that last part. Let’s read it again, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
While this truth of loving ourselves was the third greatest commandment of everything Jesus taught. Still, we look around in our world today and see so many people caught up in patterns of self-destructive behavior such as anorexia, bulimia, exercise nervosa, alcohol, drugs, and truly the list could go on.
“At least 30 million people of all ages and genders will suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Every 52 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder” and by the young “age of 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape, according to research from ANAD and the National Eating Disorders Organization.
These behaviors are not just happening in the lives of people we read about on the internet, but we find that our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, family members, and maybe even you experience this vicious cycle…. Very few if any of us actually love ourselves.
Nonetheless with this message, God opened my eyes to see I had been at war with myself for over 10 years. I continued to speak death over myself again and again and again… Claiming the lies that Satan was telling me day in and day out: I am fat and ugly. No man would want to marry me. I am a hopeless cause. I will never do anything right. I am too dirty and unworthy. God could never love me.
But the moment I realized them for what they were: Lies. It was like God switched a light switch on to the truths He had been trying to tell me all along. For the first time in my life, I realized I was loved. Not by just anyone either, I am loved by the Creator of the Universe. He was not mad at me either. Mess and all, He loves me… Thus, this truth changed everything.
And no matter who you are or what you have done, dear friend, you too are loved. As John 3:16 says, “For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Take heart in knowing you do not need to wait till you have it all together or have all the answers. Today can be the day you invite Jesus into your life. For He is knocking on the door of your heart, patiently waiting for you to meet Him, the essence of LOVE itself that will never fail us:)
If you are interested in learning more about Jesus, have questions, or need prayer, please comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Much love and prayers always, Alisha