If you’ve been hurt by a past relationship, I encourage you to learn from your experience.
- Take inventory with the help of a wise friend or counselor who can offer godly perspective.
- Make changes in your life that will help you become wiser in how you approach relationships.
- Remind yourself that bitterness and standing aloof from intimate relationships locks you in a prison of fear and loneliness.
- Acknowledge that a choice to love is essential but vulnerable.
- Explore some of the deeper issues in your relationship with God as the providential Ruler of life.
- Recommit to Psalm 62:1-2 “I find my rest in God alone. He is the One who saves me. He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me. He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.”
- Finally, think more deeply about love.
Cultural understandings of love are too often shallow and self-absorbed. Love is more than emotion and infatuation. Many people could minimize some of the hurt by abandoning cultural distortions of love.
Returning dignity and even toughness to love is essential if we hope to stop the tide of broken relationships in our culture.
Love is a value and commitment word
To love someone is to value them. “I love you” could be rephrased, “I deeply value you.” Love is also a term of devotion or commitment. “I love you” in this case could be rephrased, “I am devoted to you.” To say, “I don’t love you anymore” should be understood as, “I choose not to value you or remain devoted to you.” Too often we use the language of emotion in saying, “I just don’t feel love for him or her anymore.” In this case, a person makes himself a victim of love incapable of controlling the outcome. This is profoundly misguided.
Love focuses on others and is not a term for selfish people to use. Love is not valuing people for what they do for you. This is the opposite of love. Love seeks what is best for the one loved — even if it requires doing or saying what the loved one doesn’t want to receive. This is essential to understand and apply. To love someone is also to seek what is best for that person as God defines best. Sometimes this will mean confronting a loved one rather than being an enabler to selfish attitudes and actions.
If love is mature, of course, it will overlook many little offenses and be full of grace and forgiveness (I Peter 4:8). But Love cannot thrive where dishonesty and deceit exist. It’s simply not loving to allow a loved one to remain on a path of self-absorption and self-destruction. When love fulfills this tougher role, it’s often be misconstrued as being unloving. Expect this response when dealing with manipulative and selfish people but be strong enough to see through it for what it is.
Loving others must always be based on God’s definition of what is best.
Love from God’s perspective is self-giving to the point of getting hurt. God loved unloving people like us and His choice to love hurt Him. Scripture says that, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love for us is the example to follow and the basis for our security when we choose to risk loving others (see: Romans 8:38-39).
It’s one thing to be in love; it’s another to love someone for a lifetime. The most secure way to love is to modeled our love after God’s love. When we know that we are deeply secure in the love God has for us, we won’t tend as much to seek from another human being the love that only God can give to us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Before entering a love relationship with another person, please be sure to first deeply experience what was written by the apostle John, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love” (I John 4:16).
My prayer for you:
That you will: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1).
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-20).
See also: How to Move from Forgiveness to Reconciliation