Do you remember that "in love" feeling? Maybe you still feel it every day or maybe it has long since faded but it's that feeling in your heart and in the pit of your stomach that you cannot be away from the one you love for even one minute. You spend every waking moment thinking of the person you love, what they are doing and you desperately wait for a call, text or email that sends exhilaration into your heart and puts a smile on your face. All of us have an intense yearning desire to be loved and nurtured. Research studies show over and over that love is considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. Without love in our lives, we have an ever-present longing within our souls and a feeling of emptiness and incompleteness.
When we don't feel loved and needed (or loved and respected for men) — or when we don't feel good enough, smart enough, or (insert your insecurity here) enough — our default mode is to place blame on the person, place, thing, or situation we perceive as not providing us with love. We often tell ourselves "This must not be the right one" "I need to move on" "He or she must not be my "soul mate." Inevitably, we often jump from situation to situation, relationship to relationship and fool ourselves into thinking there's someone better out there for us.
In our pursuit of the need to be loved, we also often default to selfishness and chase after the false promises of love and happiness in areas like money, fame, beauty, and success. We fool ourselves into thinking that once we have these things, we will feel loved. Or we enter into relationships with these same illusions thinking that the other person is there to make us feel loved and happy. We assume the other person should completely understand and meet our needs whenever we feel unloved, unhappy, and insecure.
I honestly believe this selfish, "what's in it for me" philosophy in love and life is really one of the leading causes of divorce today. Each day, our society tries to sell us a victim mentality which blames others, the government or some other external factor for our personal problems, which in doing so, easily absolves us from taking any personal responsibility for our lives. We believe the lies that our happiness is found in things, money, fame, success or the efforts of others and if we don't get what we want, we can easily blame anyone but ourselves for our situations. While no one says it exactly like this, we often hear the same "blame stories" over and over in the news, from our friends and we even like to tell them ourselves now and again.
What many of us fail to recognize is that intertwined with our need to be loved and our need to feel happy, we have a parallel need: the need to love and care for others. This desire, it turns out, is just as strong as the need to be loved and nurtured.
After 21 years in the same relationship, one of the biggest secrets I've learned is that in order to personally feel love and happiness, I must first love others and radiate that love to others in sacrificial, unconditional ways.
But how do we love others if we don't feel love ourselves?
For many people; sacrificial, unconditional love is scary and risky. We're being asked to love others and put our emotions out there with no guarantee that we will not be hurt or that our emotions will not be trampled. I've met and counseled many people who are very afraid to put themselves out like this or to love like this because they've been hurt so many times in the past. Therefore, they hold back and wait...for that one special person to come.
But that special person often does not come, because they are not loving sacrificially and unconditionally. Sadly, I've met many couples who act more like roommates than intimate lovers because one or both of the people finally decided to just settle on someone rather than loving someone unconditionally and risk being hurt. It may sound cliché, but I know many people who have picked a spouse based more on logic than love and then they wonder why they have marriage issues 5-10 years into it?
So what is the secret to finding true love and not being hurt?
First and foremost, it's realizing that God loves us unconditionally and we need to ask God to be apart of our daily lives. I have yet to meet a strong Christian, walking with Christ daily that does not feel loved and happy - regardless of what people, the world or life throws at them. I've watched strong Christian men and women lose spouses or children and instead of blaming God or others, they cry out to God for help and comfort - even though they are in pain and do not understand why this is happening to them. I've watched couples on the verge of divorce, completely restore their marriage by allowing Christ to be at the center of the marriage and each spouse accepting personal responsibility for themselves and the health of the marriage. I have personally looked into the eyes of a killer and through all his hate and anger, told him that I'm sorry for all the hurt and pain he's felt in his life but that God loves him and I love him.
Christ gave us an amazing gift on the cross at Calvary and all we have to do is accept His gift. When we truly accept Christ's gift and allow God to love us, we soon realize that our worth, love and happiness does not come from others - but from a loving God who made us in his own image. If we could see just a glimpse of the amazing love that God has for us, we would never doubt or feel unloved again. If we could see ourselves, as God sees us, we would weep for joy like parents first seeing and holding their newborn baby.
Once we accept God's love, the love and happiness we experience from and for others is merely a small reflection of what we experience inside ourselves. If you have a yearning desire to feel another person's love, it's a good sign that you're desperately in need of realizing God's love for you. There's a hole you're trying to fill, but the reality is that it can only be filled by your relationship with Christ and seeing and loving yourself as Christ loves you.
When you accept God's gift and begin to walk with Christ daily, you'll soon realize that you do not need to rely on others for love, happiness, and affirmation in you life. The best part is, when you truly feel God's love, you cannot help it but to naturally start giving and feeling more love to and from others.
So what is the secret to finding true love and not being hurt?
1. Accept God's love for us and Christ's gift - paid for us on the cross.
2. Realize that true love, happiness and our worth comes from how God, not others, sees us and loves us.
3. Once we accept and feel God's love for us, we start to reflect that love into the lives of others.
When we accept God's love and we start to love others, this naturally brings more and more love and happiness into our loves from others.
This concept is so important that Paul stated in Galatians 5 "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." and the entire law (all the Commandments) is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." or as my buddy Bod Goff says...Love Does!