Monday, June 15, 2015

"On Fire": Do You Love Yourself Enough to Be in Love?

"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."---Romans 13:10(NKJV)

Over the weekend...

I had an "impromptu" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) conversation with a 35-year-old woman who really wants to be married. As we were sharing where we are in our lives and when it came to me, as I shared that I'm heading towards nine years of abstinence with one of my standards being that a divorced guy is not an option (and there are *a lot* of divorced guys in my age demographic--I Corinthians 7:9-10), she asked me if I was scared that I may never get married. *And* if my standards were so high that it could end up working against me. What I heard coming out of my mouth was something that I am *thrilled* that I can both say, and mean, two days short of 41:

"My standards are biblical and so I put my faith in that. And it's not so much of a priority that my marriage is 'happy' but that it is *healthy*. That is worth preparing and waiting for."

Walk by faith, not by sight, right? (2 Corinthians 5:7)

If you're someone who is headed towards 40, just a heads up: It biblically symbolizes testing; some theologians even say *severe testing* which is something that I can certainly vouch for! Yet in the midst of all of the tests I've endured (Psalm 7:9), some patterns have definitely broken and what I'm seeing/discovering/realizing/accepting is that I'm a lot closer to healthy than I've probably ever been in my entire life!

And when you're healthy...
It's harder for you to cause harm in your relationships...
Plus, you can spot the potential for who may cause you harm as well.

Yeah, contrary to the world and how it lies to us...
Love does not hurt.
In fact, the Word tells us that love does not harm.

And so, one way to tell if it is true and purposeful love...
Is whether or not the relationship is causing you (or you are causing it) harm.

And one way to know that...
Is to know what harm means:

Harm: (noun) physical injury or mental damage; hurt; moral injury; evil; wrong; (verb) to do or cause harm to; injure; damage; hurt

A part of the reason why Mark 12:30(NKJV) says " the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind" is because all three of these things speak to the totality of our being. This means that when the Word gives us the heads up that authentic godly love cannot cause damage or injury to your mind, to your soul or to your heart. So, if what you're in right now is doing just that, you really need to step back and do some serious praying (probably even fasting-Matthew 17:20-21), pondering (Proverbs 4:26) and assessing.

Another way to know if you are moving further away from the potential for harmful relationships is by paying attention to signs that you've broken (or are breaking) the patterns that come with toxic (poisonous and harmful) relationships. One article that can help you do that is "20 Signs You've Broken Your Toxic Relationships Pattern". I'll share half of 'em:

You take full responsibility for your own behavior, your own choices and your own life.

You try not to adapt yourself to try and fit into "uncomfortable" situations and relationships.

You are in touch with your feelings, needs and desires and do not need a man to bring out the fully expressive, creative and affectionate you. You do that with yourself and get a real kick out of it.

You are less needy, less worried, less anxious, less angry, less irritable, less hostile, less forceful, less submissive [overly-compliant], less confrontational, less selfish and less self-destructive.

You are more realistic in your expectations of yourself and of others. You no longer pressurize others for more of what they don't have (time, closeness, sensitivity, romance...material stuff, etc.) or give him too much of what he doesn't necessarily want and then become angered and hurt when does not seem to appreciate it.

You've let go of playing games: calculating, manipulating, putting on a great spectacular show of "loving" him, the chasing and running away. You are more relaxed and honest and let the rest take care of itself.

You have a circle of supportive friends and family while at the same time avoiding dysfunctional relationships and energy drainers---people who can sabotage your growth by wanting you to remain the same so that they can remain the same.

You allow yourself to be loved because you already love yourself. If there is lots of love already in there, it is much easier to receive and accept love that comes from outside of you.

You know that a good relationship takes work and time to grow and are willing to put in effort and time but at the same time know when to let go if it's not working---to let go without experiencing disabling depression.

You've learned to live your life without all of the "stress" and time-consuming and energy-draining dramas of heated battles, begging, angry outbursts, parting and reconciling.

Such good and poignant points! And one of the things that I appreciate so much about each one of them is they're proof that when you do the work to free yourself from toxic patterns, you find yourself showing clear signs of being able to love yourself. *And then* you are far more equipped to love someone else rather than looking for someone else to fill the voids that only God, you and time are fully capable of doing. Remember, Christ once said that aside from loving God with your all, it is also so important that you "love your neighbor AS yourself" (Mark 12:31).

As you're loving others, love yourself...
The way that you love others tends to be a direct reflection of how/if you love yourself.

And just what are some of the indications that you do indeed love yourself? Here are some great bullet points from an article entitled "6 Ways to Know That You Love Yourself" (click on the link for the full read):

You work very hard in the professional life of your choice, to achieve the success you want. 
You know when to "treat" yourself.
You are mindful of your health. 

You are okay with being "by yourself," and alone in the company of your own thoughts.
You prioritize your values over what everyone else values for you. 
You look in the mirror and love what you see!

Love your neighbor as your self...
And as the saying goes, we tend to attract a lot of who we are. Good and otherwise.

Don't you want to be with a man:

Who also works hard in their professional life?
Who treats themselves from time to time?
Who is mindful of their physical, emotional, mental and especially spiritual health?
Who is OK being by themselves (doesn't always have to be in the company of women)?
Who prioritizes his own values?
Who looks in the mirror and loves what he sees---so that he doesn't need a lot of "outside validation"?

A man like that...
Who is paired up with a woman who is the same?

That is an unstoppable union...
That is an amazing walking definition of love.

So yes...
If you desire to be in love...
Please take out some time to ask yourself...


Because sometimes we think we're waiting on "him"...
When God is actually waiting on us...
To love him and ourselves first...
So that we can love our man so much better!

Amen? Amen.



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