Jul 17, 2020

Love Never Ends

Love Never Ends


1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


Many of my life’s biggest struggles have been rooted in the experiences, the understanding, and the beliefs that I held about love.  What do I mean?  In any given circumstance involving love, we often limit its value. 


We limit love.  Often unintentionally. Everyone longs to feel loved unconditionally, overlooking that we are usually the ones who apply the conditions. Not always. We’ve heard stories of the strict, unwavering father who expresses disappointment and withholds affection when his son delivers a subpar performance at the ball game on Saturday night. This boy feels as though dad’s love is conditional on his performance. 


“The greatest single cause of a poor self image is the absence of unconditional love.” ~ Zig Zigler


Love Never Ends


My experience was different and left a deep scar in the depths of my soul that became the severely damaged foundation upon which every relationship in my life began. 


It was a beautiful summer day as we were getting ready to sit down for lunch. My mom and dad were talking about work and my brother and I were racing to make our plate and inhale our lunch so we could head back out to play.  I was just 7 or 8 years old behaving like little boys do. A quick spin, a loose grip on a glass pitcher and poor reflexes caused me to drop the pitcher. It shattered on the kitchen floor. 


My mother and father both yelled at me so loud and with such contempt, I can’t even remember what was said. The good news is the yelling didn’t last long. It was quickly replaced with a barrage of open handed swats to my backside as I ran to my room. There I sat in tears with an empty stomach in the aftermath of the yelling, spanking, and grounding I’d just been sentenced to. At this point, although I felt sad and had regrets for what happened, I never questioned whether my parents loved me or not. I never questioned if anyone loved me. I just assumed they did. 


Until…


The next few minutes would prove to be pivotal in the direction my life would take spiritually, emotionally and relationally.  As I sat on my bed, the weight of my punishment repeated like a broken record in my mind. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash come from the kitchen. I ran out to see what happened and saw my father standing over what used to be the glass coffee pot. 


There stood my dad, having just dropped the coffee pot and there I was trying to contain my nervous excitement. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of punishment he would receive. As I stood there, my thoughts that were focused outwardly slowly began to shift inward as I interpreted what was happening. There was no yelling. There was no spanking. Nothing happened. No conversation. No explanation. As I asked the questions like, why didn’t dad get in trouble?  Why didn’t dad get yelled at? Why isn’t someone taking about this?


After hours had passed of me lying on my bed trying to make sense of what happened, I finally had my answer. If both of us broke something, both made huge messes but I was the only one punished, then clearly it’s because my dad is better than me. It’s because I mess up all the time. I mess up so much, I’m sure they don’t love me as much as my brother.  Since I’m loved less, if at all, I must not be worthy of loving. 


When these thoughts began, they didn’t stop. They didn’t stop until I found the truth about love in the One who is love 34 years later.  We can become very skilled at doing whatever it takes to survive. For 34 years I survived as a fake at every relationship I was in. I knew that relationships were based on love. I also knew that I wasn’t loved because I didn’t deserve it. It’s still difficult to think that for 34 years I never liked much less loved who I saw in the mirror. He wasn’t worthy based on a toxic narrative established in the mind and heart of an 8 year old boy.  


Love Never Ends


It’s no surprise to share that when Jesus found me in a jail cell, somehow I knew that He knew my deepest hurts and pain. I wasn’t sure how or when but I knew healing was coming. I just didn’t know that it was coming in the truth of who God is. God is love. 


If we don’t know the meaning of love it’s irrational to assume that we can give it away. If love could be carried in a bubble, we could absolutely give it without ever knowing it. But that’s just not what love is or how it’s meant to be shared. Scripture tells us that God is love. Love begins with God and comes from God.  We are able to love out of overflow, and in order to have an overflow of love, we must receive it first. 


Love Never Ends


If you hear nothing else or take nothing else away from this story, this is what I want you to read, absorb, and believe with all of your heart. 


No matter how much we need and desire to have the love that God pours out to us, we cannot accept and receive His love until we believe we are worthy of it, not because of who we are but because of who we are in Him. 


Love Never Ends


I mentioned earlier that we limit love. For 34 years I limited love because it was foreign to me. I limited love in my relationships with my parents, my brother, my children, my spouse(s), every relationship was limited. I found myself looking into the face of my daughter as tears ran down her cheek, telling her I loved her and wanting nothing more than for her to believe me. It hurt so much to know that I wanted her to believe me but I didn’t believe me. That’s a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. 


Because God is love and He desires reconciliation and restoration of relationships, He leads us down a path of redemption.  It's been 9 years since I held that little crying face in my hands wanting desperately for her to know that I loved her. This September, my mom and I are going to visit her, her husband and my grandson for her birthday. I’ll hold her cheeks once again and I’ll be able to tell her, show her, and give her the love I now fully know. 


Love Never Ends


Walking with you. 


Don


(Thank you for reading along. I hope you’ve been touched with hope and joy. Please share with family & friends. Would love to hear from you. Share your story with me at knownneededloved@gmail.com)

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