We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19
I used to pride myself on my ability to love. I was especially proud of myself that I seemed to have the ability to love the people that everyone else deemed “unloveable.” I would have called myself a soft hearted individual who always put other people’s needs before my own.
I ignored the fact that every act of “love” I did for others inherently had a condition attached. I expected them to love me back and appreciate what I had done for them. This meant that they should treat me better than they treated everyone else. It meant that they should always put me first. It meant that I had given them my so called gift of love with tons of expectations attached.
Needless to say, most of the people I choose to give my gift of love to disappointed me. They never truly lived up to my expectations. I always felt hurt and used by their inability to reciprocate the gift giving. In truth, most times I ended up hating the person I claimed to “love” because they couldn’t fill me up with the love I craved. In fact, if I were brutally honest with myself the only reason I had given them my gift of love was so that they’d love me in return.
Unfortunately, the way I loved wasn’t love at all. It was manipulation plain and simple. And the person who got hurt the most by it was me!
Then I met my ex-husband. He had many faults, but the one thing he knew how to do was love me. I was not an easy person to love back in those days. I was manipulative, angry, bitter, and didn’t trust men.
I had never met anyone who gave love without any expectations. He simply loved. He loved me regardless of my behavior. This is not to say that he didn’t voice his opinion when I was doing something that he knew would be harmful to me. His kind of love was a love that was always in my best interest. I had never met a man who loved a person in this way.
I didn’t know what to do with that kind of love. I couldn’t receive it because I didn’t understand it. His love thrust my manipulative form of love into the light. It was a bitter pill to swallow. My past with men made it really hard for me to receive love from any male figure.
This made it difficult for me to receive God’s love. It was hard for me trust that He would always have my best interest at heart. It wasn’t until years later, when I asked Jesus into my heart and began to receive inner healing that I was able to trust that God really did love me with no strings attached. I also learned that it is only when God’s love is in our hearts that we can truly know how to love. Any other form of love falls short!
Thank goodness that God is patient. He continued to shower me with His love through all my behaviors and antics. Slowly, albeit very slowly, I’ve learned to receive His love and know that He always has my best interest at heart.
I no longer pride myself on my ability to love. Instead, I am humbled that God loves others through me. These days I know that I only love because He first loved me. Without His love, I’m incapable of true love.