“Mommy what would you change about your childhood?”
My l’il big sunshine is always asking me questions that have me deep in thought. I really had to think about my answer to her question, because I had a decent childhood. Initially, I started to say “nothing,” but that response was silenced as I took a minute to dig a little deeper and then my heart answered and said, “More Love.”
Three things will last forever –faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Growing up, I understood that my parents loved me because they provided the physical needs of me and my siblings, and even some of our wants. We would eat dinner together every night, we celebrated birthdays and holidays with our extended family and went on family vacation often. However, our family environment wasn’t very affectionate, and there wasn’t much physical love shown. My parents rarely hugged and kissed me, and it was only a special occasion when I heard “I love you.” I learned a lot by watching my parents’ interaction with each other. I knew at an early age that I did not want what they had in marriage or what they identified as family, because I didn’t feel or see that it embodied love. “No love present…no love lost” resonated deep within me.
As I got older and started developing my own relationships, I learned how selfish and heartless those close to me could be. As priceless as love and loyalty are, I saw firsthand how easily they both could be sold in exchange for selfish ambition, even if the happiness that was sought from the deal only lasted for a few hours. The whole exchange cost me everything I invested in the name of love, and left me with absolutely nothing but a shattered heart and a bottle full of lonely, sad tears.
When I started dating, I always remembered what my dad told me: “Don’t take any gifts from boys” and my mother: “boys only want sex from you and they’ll tell you anything to get it, especially I love you.” My first love was nothing like I imagined he would be from the perception my parents created in my mind. He bought me gifts all the time and I was hesitant to take them at first for fear of my father finding out, but I also knew nothing in life was free so he must want something from me. He got offended when I wouldn’t take the things he would buy me, so I asked him why he always wanted to spend money on me and he simply said, “…because I love you.” It took me a while to say it back, but I also saw he meant it because he kept telling me regardless if I said it back to him, and he continued buying me gifts. He never expected anything in return. He respected my body and didn’t pressure me to have sex with him. He showed me someone different from the picture of the boyfriend my parents painted in my mind.
As good as my first love was to me, I also learned what love was not from being in relationship with him. He respected me and spoiled me, but he was also very jealous, controlling and he wanted me to himself all the time and I didn’t like that about him. It was hard for me to separate from him because he treated me like a queen, I loved him and I knew he truly loved me, but it was something about that love that rubbed me the wrong way, and it became a turn off that I directly connected to him. I had enough of the control and I needed to be free, but my inexperience wouldn’t allow me to choose me, so I did something I rarely did at that time in my life and I asked God to show me what to do. Shortly after I prayed that prayer, he got orders over seas and I held on to our relationship for a few months, and then I let it go.
I learned early in my life that hurt people, hurt people so I stopped allowing others to get close to me and I only had a select handful of people in my life I called friend.
By the time I reached my mid-twenties I still didn’t want to be married, but I also longed for true love. I moved to a new state and I met the man I would later marry. He was the total opposite of my first love. I honestly wasn’t even attracted to him, but he kept calling and asking me on dates, and I kept answering and going. We built a friendship, started dating and moved in with one another. He reminded me so much of my father when it came to love. He was very distant, quick to anger and never showed me any affection. He rarely bought me gifts, even on special occasions or holidays, but I accepted it because I held on to what my father told me as a little girl and I would buy my own gifts for myself. Sex was one-sided and after a few years, I realized there was a distinct difference between a man making love to my body and sex. Animals have sex. After a few years, I left him because of his abusive ways and ended right back with him after believing his tear-filled apology. Except this time I felt trapped because I was pregnant with his baby. We got married a year after I gave birth and I knew I had made the wrong decision a month into the marriage. After marriage absolutely nothing changed except my last name. I was emotionally sick of feeling unwanted, unloved and disconnected from the father of my child and the man the state called my husband. I was longing for love from a man who did not have the life tools or mental capacity to give it to me, so I made the decision to fight for me, with strength from God and I left my marriage with my two babies in tow.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7
I remember the day I learned what true love is. I didn’t have a supernatural, earth shaking, awe-inspiring experience that would be hard for others to fathom if I tried to explain it to them. It was simply the knowledge and realization that God absolutely loved me. The decision to leave my marriage was very painful, but it also held the last straw to my existence. I was in so much emotional pain daily that I just wanted to die. Nothing seemed to be going right within the aspects of my life that mattered the most to me…love. My career was thriving, I had healthy friendships, all my physical needs and those of my children were met, and at the same time I felt like I was dying a slow death within. I didn’t believe anyone could help me so I kept the heart of my pain suppressed. I started having suicidal thoughts. I even asked God to let me die in my sleep at one point, and instead of answering my desperate cry for help with death, He delivered me with His unconditional love.
Starting my life over with absolutely nothing was the beginning of my life in unconditional love. My faith allowed me to build a relationship with the uncreated God and in turn heal from my brokenness. God is intentional about everything, including our life’s journey. Every experience I have lived thru has prepared me for this very moment. God’s unconditional love for me has taught me how to love myself unconditionally and embrace the woman He created me to be…experiences and all! My healing has taught me that unconditional self-love is the foundation to our lives and that foundation starts before our conception and is molded within our experiences during our lifetime. Without my experiences, I wouldn’t know what love is or understands its value in my life.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12
At one point in my life, I thought I didn’t need love from anyone, including God because my experiences showed me love hurts. However, it was my growth and healing that taught me its not love that hurts, it’s the people we get in relationship with that have no perception of God’s unconditional love that hurts. Love is more than a word or feeling, it’s an action. God is the greatest example of unconditional love thru action. God promises to:
- protect us
- provide for us
- give us peace
- be with us
- be our strength
- answer us
- love us
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
God’s unconditional for me has opened my heart to heal and in turn give and receive love freely. God cautions us to “guard your heart above all else, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) Unconditional love accepts us as we are and loves us equally. God has given us the ability to love others unconditionally thru the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness opens our heart to heal, and helps us to understand our healing and unconditional love for others and our self does not condone a destructive cycle of abuse and mistreatment. Instead, it gives us the wisdom and understanding to set healthy boundaries that support us in loving ourselves just as God loves us…unconditionally!
We experience God’s unconditional love each day we are alive. It is present physically thru touch and embrace, mentally thru wisdom, knowledge and understanding; emotionally thru divine connections by feeling appreciated and wanted; and spiritually from God. Simply ask God for whatever it is that you need and He will give it to you in the perfect divine timing for your life.
It is my sincere prayer that you allow the unconditional love of God to abide in and work thru you daily, and that you use the gift of forgiveness to love others and yourself the same, Amen.
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Blessings, light & love to you💜💜💜