This is a topic that hits home hard for me. Are you loving or losing? As a young person we learn to love. We learn to understand that love is a feeling we have that starts from our parents and/or whomever that may be that cared for us at birth. The person who held us and comforted us when we cried as babies, who fed us, dressed us etc. As we grow and get older, that understanding of what love is changes for some of us.
Some individuals may keep it as simple as, if I am safe and fed and have clothes to wear, I am loved. For others, well we might need more. As we approach the age of building friendships, our hormones kicking in, maybe we suffer a loss or a falling out, well then love might take on a whole new meaning for them. It may be about someone giving them their time and effort. It might be for some about one who just accepts them for who they are. For others it might be that they believe love is when another person showers them with gifts to show their perceived value in them as a person. There are many different types of love, there is the love we have for our family, the love we have for a best friend or mentor. Then there is the love of a person we hope to share life with.
People often from young ages develop an idea of the kind of person they want to marry i.e. “When I grow up I am going to marry a man that is tall, dark and handsome, he will have a successful career and we will live in big house with a white picket fence.” I sat back and asked myself,when does the idea of our perfect mate start to develop and where do we build those ideas from?
I too had preset my expectations of what my husband would be like. It would be perfect if we could order a husband or wife with the qualities and values we desire like when we order something from Amazon. We could just type in our search engines, check the boxes and…. whooola! None of us preset our expectations to include struggles or financial hardships or infidelity or loss. How is it that we get there then? I look back and think, well it didn’t just slap me in the face, not clear enough I could recognize it and say to myself ” yeah this just isn’t going to do, and cancel my order!” There was no return to sender option, no return order because I was dis- satisfied. It happened little by little, one struggle and bump in the road at a time. It definitely wasn’t one sided.
I am a journal keeper so as I looked back into journals I wrote and letters I had written, the mistakes started jumping out at me. Wow! quickly everything my councilors ever told me came flooding back ten fold. I could see it, right there in my very own handwriting staring me in the face. I can’t even begin to tell you how dysfunctional or completely unrealistic some of the things I had written were, how they sounded to me now. I promise at the time I poured my heart out on those pages, every last word made sense and I felt them to my core.
I have always had what I call superwoman syndrome, I was in control and I was going to single-handedly fix it all. I remember thinking; If I could just be prettier, if I could just be a better cook, if I could just be a better lover in bed, if I could just make more money to help. Then as big as life in my own handwriting I read the words…..” IF I JUST LOVE HIM ENOUGH, LOVE HIM MORE, one day he will realize what he has and love me back.” It is a very real sentence that so many people speak far too often.
I looked back to all the things I did to try to make that single sentence come true. I look back on all the bad choices I made when I was angry and hurt; I wanted him to hurt as much as he hurt me, simply because I didn’t feel he loved me as I needed him to. I had given him all of me, I felt he just threw me aside, like my feelings didn’t matter. That started a road to self destruction on the path of destruction I had already been traveling on. Year after year, choice after choice constantly trying to justify every behavior, every action, every thought I had. It took its toll on me I promise you that. I began to stuff my feelings deep down only to let them out when I was ready to explode from whatever emotion sent me over the edge that very minute. I began to hide inside myself. I lashed out at everyone. I lashed out at people who loved me and I dismissed my behavior because I was desperately seeking love from the one person that I would never get it from. About 10 years in, after stories of infidelity were passed on to me, I returned the hurtful act of being unfaithful. I tried to convince myself I didn’t care anymore. An eye for an eye. I was again seeking love I would never find. I’d never find it especially not with someone who knew I was unhappy and felt unloved and played on those emotions to benefit from them temporarily. Negativity creeped in until it consumed me. Before I realized it, everything that made me special and unique to being me was unrecognizable. A part of me seemed forever lost. Sure I had good days when a glimpse of myself would fight to shine but quickly the circumstances of my reality dimmed my light once again. Knowing I didn’t like who I was becoming I tried to recommit to my marriage; once again I tried to convince myself of that very loud sentence…. .” IF I JUST LOVE HIM ENOUGH, LOVE HIM MORE “,This time adding, well maybe it is partly my fault. I gave it a few more years, through 3 children, trying to create the rebirth of myself and a career, I failed again. I gave 20 years of my life to a marriage that wasn’t right for me or him to begin with. I moved on, had a relationship after my divorce but for some reason could never fully close the chapter of my first marriage. I look back now and feel it may have been because I couldn’t accept failure and that I COULDN’T FIX IT and I couldn’t accept that.
The relationship I chose after that was definitely not the right person for me either but I was slowly finding parts of me again. I felt at the time that this relationship was not as damaging, I had a connection with this man on a friendship foundation so it had to be right! Even though my heart had found someone already I knew with every ounce of my being was the love of my life and the man God had intended me to be with, well what did I do, I ignored it. I married my friend prematurely, and instead of listening to the message God was sending me. You can imagine that was a very short lived relationship. I was still so unhappy, constantly searching for a love I never could be content with. For a short time I went back to my first husband, I guess hoping to fix something I helped break. It does take two, but it only takes one to be a big enough person to walk away when it isn’t right. To no success that relationship failed again. I felt as if I was prisoner in a situation I wouldn’t survive. I went back to my friend the only person who accepted me for the woman I was at that time. I still knew he wasn’t the one for me, I loved him but I loved him as my friend, I was not IN LOVE with him. I felt like I could settle, that not being IN LOVE with him didn’t really matter because he was important to me. There is a difference and it took me so so long to really learn what that means. Our marriage again ended in a few short months. I wasn’t done making bad choices though…. boy when I do something dumb I do it all the way dumb. I went back and shacked up with my first ex-husband, not because I was in love with him, not because I wanted to fix things with him but because I had no where to go and no one to turn to. I had no earthly idea where I was going or where I even wanted to start. I felt that at least the children would have both parents.
I decided to throw myself into my work. I had a decent job. I worked as a nurse in a long term care facility. I loved my patients and I loved the people I worked with. I decided to stay in the situation until I could afford to find my own way and my children be taken care of in the process. Wrong answer again, the consequences of your children watching both of their parents unhappy and miserable and treating each other badly, well that is another story for another day. I watched people, I read, I hoped, I planned. I gave up! I decided I was giving up on love and I was just going to find someone I enjoyed spending time with and I wasn’t committing to anyone. I did just that. When I needed to feel connected to someone I found someone I was attracted to, someone I enjoyed being around but in no way had to be committed to. The two of us were great friends. We enjoyed one another’s company on several occasions but that was it, we were not meant to be, we both knew it. We grew to care very much for one another but not a forever kind of love. There was still an emptiness.
I began making better choices. I knew my negative look on life was not going to take me where I was wanted to go on my journey in life. I did not like the inevitable ending to my story so I began to change the way I looked at each day. I worked on seeing positives where normally I would see negative. I worked on what it was I was willing to accept for my life and what I wasn’t willing to budge on. This is when my journey started. I will never forget that day, I had worked long hours, double shifts. I was tired, I was weary, I was alone. I tiredly wondered down to my room and laid across my bed tears pouring uncontrollably down my face, I looked up to my ceiling, closed my eyes and said “OKAY God, I get it. I can’t do this on my own anymore, I need you to show me, I need you to take away my need to fix it all, my need to think I can fix this man or I need you to guide me where you want me to be!” Please show me I begged him! I cried myself to sleep that day. I promise you from that day on NOTHING was the same. I was different. I felt different. There was a surpreme need to do the right thing, to live life right.
My life began to change. I began to realize what I had to do. I had to be honest with myself. I had to believe no matter how bad things seemed God would lead me to what was right if I just put my faith in him. I did just that. Every day from that day on, one day at a time whatever thoughts or emotions I was fighting, I gave it to God and listened and followed his guidance. I have no regrets.
I have learned valuable lessons. I learned through living a righteous life that I wasn’t loving or being loved, I was losing and in a big way. I was losing myself. I was losing my own way of thinking and destroying all that was really important to me trying to make someone love me. I heard someone say, “remember, love does not demand.” Wow! what an impact that very statement had on me, now that I was in a place I could receive that message. Love does not demand. Love is not rude. It is not proud. It is not self-seeking. It does not dishonor others. It keeps no records of wrongs. Not in that order but you get the idea. Its form 1 Corintinans 13:4-8 All these years of my life…. how did I miss this profound message?
Far too many times do we turn ourselves inside out trying too hard to love the wrong people. Far too many times do we waste precious time trying to make people love us that were never meant for us to love or be loved by. I decided from that moment on….. I would apply those verses in 1 Corinthians to my life. Especially if I was struggling or facing difficult times in love, I would read and remind myself what unconditional love included or rather didn’t include.
I am so thankful that I wasn’t too late. I wasn’t too late in life figuring this out and God lead the right person to me. I learned that loving someone unconditionally is a choice. Making the right decisions along the way, throughout lifes bumps in the road is a choice. This doesn’t mean that if your in an unhealthy and abusive relationship of any kind that you should just make the choice to stay, it will not work and you become just as unhealthy and abuse yourself in the process as well. I did not like the person I had become. What it does mean is that when you find the person who values love and respects love, truly loves you and what love stands for that they are putting forth the same if not more effort as you are. It means that you choose one another, above all the non-important, material things. It means you choose one another and handle the daily difficulties of life and love always with the priority being your relationship. It does not mean you or your partner will be perfect there is no such thing, it means you choose one another. The most valuable lesson to me was learning that God first and foremost is my MOST valuable relationship for me and in my marriage and in accepting that and growing that relationship allowed me to have my happily ever after! Are YOU…. loving or losing?