I had a breakthrough in the middle of a Red Lobster’s restaurant. My bff asked me to join her there one Sunday after dance practice, but I initially had no intention of taking her up on the offer. We had been arguing for days about something that I don’t really remember the specifics of right now. I do remember however that it was exhausting, and I was ready to call it quits on our friendship. That was easy for me to do-call it quits on people. The second anyone did anything to hurt my feelings, annoy me, turn me off or even treat me too good I wanted nothing else to do with them. It was just easier for me to cut that person off and move on to the next whether it was a potential mate, a friend, an associate or whomever. Everyone was dispensable-everyone. At first I would cut them off in my mind. I would lose all interest as well as any semblance of emotion that I ever felt for them; it was quite cold now that I think about it. Furthermore, I would not give them the courtesy of even telling them or explaining it to them. I would simply begin to ignore them, decline any offers to spend time with them, and neglect to contact them until eventually they got the picture. It was also quite immature of me now that I think about it even more.
So that is what I had begun doing to my bff. Little did she know, she was already cut off in my mind and I was prepared to end the friendship. It had just become too much. I hated conflict. I never had to deal with it because in my family we all just swept things under the rug, and in my relationships there was no real communication. Going back and forth with her was extremely annoying and quite honestly I just did not care. I realize now how bad that sounds, but it was my truth back then. It was hard for me to actually care about situations and things because over the years I had built up a thick shell which I now recognize as a defense mechanism. I had been hurt really bad by someone closest to me and so all other situations paled in comparison.
Nevertheless, after minutes of begging, I obliged and decided to join her at the restaurant (more for the meal than anything lol). As we began to rehash the details of the arguments from the previous few days, we realized that we fought a lot. The details of the situation were always different but the root, we realized was the same. At this point in our friendship we had been fighting so much that we actually considered going in for a counseling session at our church. It felt like we were in an actual relationship or something. We just could not figure out how to stop all the bickering and move past the conflict. So finally my bff had the brilliant idea to ask the Holy Spirit. It sounded so simple yet it was so profound. Of course Holy Spirit could help us. He knows ALL things which means He knows what is at the root of all of these arguments, AND he knows how to fix it. He is all knowing and full of wisdom. By the time we were finished with our meal we had written instructions from the Holy Spirit on a paper napkin. There were only 2 instructions of which one was for me and the other for my bff. For the sake of this blog I will only reveal Holy Spirit’s instructions to me. In every circumstance, I was supposed to do to/for my bff what I knew she would want for me to do in that given situation even if I did not feel like it. For example, If she sends me a text and asks how is my day going, generally I would give a one word answer, not because anything is wrong but because if my day is going well I would say just that, no elaboration. Well my bff is not here for the one word answers. Instead she wants a full synopsis, explanation and details, and I KNEW this but I would still give one word answers because I did not feel the need to change who I was for another person. You see, many times we are loving someone the way we want to be loved instead of loving them the way they need/want to be loved. It is important that we take the time to truly love the people that God has gifted us with. I remember so clearly being in the shower one day and hearing God speak to my heart. He said Rita, if you can’t even keep and appreciate and cultivate the relationships that I have already given you (referring to a group of friends) how do you expect for me to bring you a husband? Ouch! God was right. Had I not checked that old attitude and mindset back then, I would have brought it into a marriage which would have been a recipe for disaster and a cause for many arguments potentially leading to divorce. I can honestly say that I have a beautiful marriage. Not perfect, but beautiful and I truly believe a big part of that is because I learned how to love people the right way.
So as simple as the instructions were, I knew that it would be a challenge for me, but it was one that I was willing to accept. If we really value a person and if we truly love them, whether it is a friend, boyfriend, husband, mother sister, whomever, then we will do what it takes to make them happy and make them feel loved even if it comes at our own expense because that is what love does, it gives. To be honest, the first few times I was challenged to do what I knew my bff would appreciate were pretty hard, but I had to do what I like to call faith it til I make it. It is not being phony, even though it felt phony at the time. I basically had to put a smile on my face and do things cheerfully that I did not necessarily want to do but guess what? The arguments became almost non existent and my bff really appreciated my efforts. Eventually, what began to happen is I actually enjoyed writing those long messages (as an example). What started out as me obeying the instructions of the Holy Spirit for the sake of our friendship turned into a total shift in my thinking and my actions soon followed.
I now realize that God was teaching me what real love actually is. Love is not what society, media or your favorite romantic comedy has taught you. It is not your marriage goals or even a feeling that you get. Love is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It is patient, it is kind, it is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. That is how we are called to love people, and guess what? It is not dependent on the actions of the other person. Real love is a choice; it is a choice that you make day after day and it behaves this way irrespective of how the other person is treating us. THAT is real love. And now I can say with everything in me that I LOVE MY HUSBAND. My husband is a great person, an incredible husband and a fantastic father to our daughter but I can honestly say that I do not love him because of those things or any of his other wonderful attributes. I appreciate them but my love is not dependent upon them. My love for him is so much deeper than that and it is not dependent on his actions and it is not based on my emotions. Until you are ready to love someone like that, you should not even bother being found because you will end up ruining what could have been a good situation had you truly been ready.
If you see yourself in one of the above scenarios that is totally ok. We must first experience God’s love in order to give that type of love. Seek Him, be honest with Him and then let Him heal you and teach you how to truly love someone and then make those necessary adjustments. Learn to love God with all your heart, your might and your strength; everything else will flow from that relationship. Then learn to cultivate the relationships of those people He has already given you. If you do this, you will set yourself up for success in marriage and in every relationship in your life.
Still Hidden in Him,