When Love Isn’t Enough

“Maybe I just need to love ______ more.” I thought to myself as the tension between us continued to rise.

“Love is patient… So I could be more patient. Love is kind and I could be more kind. Love believes all things, so that’s the answer, more love.”

That’s what I believed until I found myself with an irreconcilable relationship. Broken with very little hope of it ever being repaired, and it has to be that way for numerous reasons.

I didn’t really realized I’d hoped love would solve all the problems until I was in another situation.

At my Dad’s bedside. I thought that if I kissed him enough, held his hand long enough, love on him enough, he would wake up. I thought if I told him I’d make him cheesecake, key lime pie and all the popcorn he wanted if he would just wake up from his coma. But then, he died.

I was driving for several hours one night with tears pouring out of my eyes asking God why my love wasn’t enough…

I loved that person who I no longer talk with. I loved with everything I had.

I loved my Dad as best as I knew how. I truly believed with all my heart that the love of not just me but my entire family would wake him up.

But my love wasn’t enough…

I was thinking this week, maybe you have felt the same? Maybe your love wasn’t enough to keep your spouse from leaving? Maybe your love wasn’t enough from keep someone you loved from having to suffer from cancer? Maybe your love wasn’t enough to hold on to the person you cared about? Maybe your love wasn’t enough to protect your child from being hurt.

Love is powerful, but sometimes it is not enough…

This week I came across 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”

I read that and to be honest, I don’t like the word “compel.” Another translation said, “Controls.” I didn’t like that either. Maybe it’s because I knew someone who would say if you love someone enough they’ll do anything for you. This person used “Love” as a manipulating tool.

So, I decided to look it up in the Greek and what I found was not what I was expecting:

1. To HOLD TOGETHER

1. any whole, lest it fall to pieces or something fall away from it

2. To HOLD TOGETHER with constraint, to compress

1. to press together with the hand

1. to hold one’s ears, to shut the heavens that it may not rain

2. To press on every side

1. of a besieged city

2. of a strait, that forces a ship into a narrow channel

3. of a cattle squeeze, that pushing in on each side, forcing the beast into a position where it cannot move so the farmer can administer medication

3. To Hold Completely

1. to hold fast

1. of a prisoner

2. metaph.

1. To be HELD BY, closely occupied with any business

2. in teaching the word

3. to constrain, oppress, of ills laying hold of one and distressing him

5. to be HELD WITH, afflicted with, suffering from

6. to urge, impel

1. of the soul

So, my love may not always be enough. It wasn’t enough to keep a relationship. It wasn’t enough to keep my Dad here. But God’s love is ENOUGH to hold me together even when I am utterly broken apart.

His love can hold my pieces together until they come together again. His love can resurrect parts of my soul that have died.

My love is not enough, but His Love is and until I can feel it again— his love will be.

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Will Love Ever Come to Me?

I’ve asked myself this several times. I’ll meet someone, get my hopes up and nothing happens. Sometimes, I get a red flag and decide to move on. Other times, the guy I like will stop contacting me. So, here I am still single, but does that mean I am without love?

Over time, I have met several types of girls. I’ve met the girl who is just “waiting” for the “right one” to come along. I have been that girl too. We tend to fantasize in our mind how “perfect” it will be when we meet “the one”. I have also met the girl who settled. Neither one seems to be very happy though. Why? What is missing?

First of all, I think expectation has a huge role in our unhappiness. We expect him to look like Channing Tatum and act like Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Sparks’ The Notebook. But in reality, men are not women. Most men like men things: sports, making money, fishing, action movies, and spending time in their man cave. Not necessarily candle lit dinners with Frank Sinatra playing in the background, although some do. Most men don’t like talking and chatting for hours. The simpler the better. They’re very logical and fact oriented. Us women have a tendency to have a backstory to our backstory which is a backstory to our actual story. We are different.

Secondly, we need to ditch the lie that says, “we can only feel loved when we have a significant other”. I have been incredibly blessed with an amazing family and amazing friends who have become like family. I know I am loved, but sometimes I get stuck with what we think “love is” or what “love should be”. We can experience love and receive love without a significant other.

For me, the past two years have rested my resolve, but I have felt more love than before. I fled the state I called “home” to get away from a toxic relationship. That meant saying goodbye to a job I loved, an apartment, and lots of great friends. A year after that, I lost my Dad in a car accident. As if that weren’t enough, a few months after that, I lost my job due to the business closing.

After experiencing so much loss, I feel like I have a greater appreciation for what others have been through or are going through. The more loss I experience the more I am learning how to love others and how to receive love from others.

The week I was packing my things to get away from a toxic relationship, I had a sweet friend pay my portion of the rent. I did not tell her why I was leaving. I was scared to tell this friend because she knew who who the toxic person who hurt me and could have been upset about my silence, but she did the opposite and helped me. During that same week, I also had my roommate tell me they’d cover my portion of the rent as long as I needed her to. I had a family, who did not have much, give me $100 for gas. Lastly, I had two other friends who gave me a substantial amount of money so I could take time off and recalibrate.

Each one of my family members and my friends have taught me how to love better. The week my Dad was in SICU fighting for his life, I had two friends who gathered money and sent me two cards. Inside the card were kind words, thoughts and prayers from all my old co-workers as well as $500 gift card that they all pitched in for. If that is not sacrificial love and abundant kindness I don’t know what is. I don’t know one of my friends and coworkers that live in abundance. They all gave selflessly.

Everyone is in need of love. My grandpa once said, “Love is not only a feeling but also a warmful act.” Sometimes our feeling betrays us. But if we choose to love the ones we have around us and expect nothing in return, it will slowly change how we feel. It truly is better to give than to receive. The same is true for love. A lot of the time we are sitting around waiting for someone to love us, but what if we decided to love others how we wanted to be loved.

I had a friend tell me, “I wish I was appreciated more.” Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she decided to tell her closest friends that she appreciated them. And in return, each friend reciprocated their appreciation of her.

So, instead of asking if love will come to you, how about asking: will I be love? will I be (a representation) of love to my family? will I be a (representation) of love to my co-workers? will I be (a representation) of love to my neighbors, friends, and my community?

Love comes in many forms, be creative. Love might look like a cup of coffee for your tired co-worker. It may look like an old-fashioned handwritten note to your friend encouraging her to keep pressing on. It may be an act of selflessness to your family. Maybe spending time listening to someone hurting in your community. I try to remind myself that no matter where I am there is always someone who is doing better and always someone who is doing worse. This helps me keep perspective. It helps me to help those who are worse off and strive to be more like the one who’s doing better.

Life is short, and we only have one life to live, we might as well spend it loving others well. Sure, we will get hurt sometimes. In the case of my toxic relationship, I gave all that I had and was left broken and beaten down. But, having a broken and scarred heart is not the worst thing that could happen, being bitter and callous is.

Love is not selfish it is selfless. Don’t sit around expecting things; instead, spend the time to connect with others. Life is hard and we need each other. And, the best way to learn how to be in a healthy relationship with a significant other is by learning how to love those around you now.

Choosing to be selfless and loving others expands your heart. Being single, I never know what to do for my birthday. So, I decided, instead of feeling sorry that I don’t have anyone to celebrate with, I decided to pick a cause to be a part of. Two years ago, I was a part of an “anti-sex trafficking walk” with an organization called A21. This past year, I volunteered to do relief work for those who have been impacted by hurricane Irma and possibly those impacted by hurricane Maria. This year, I’m raising money in a half marathon for a charity that I love.

So instead of pining away waiting, or settling and not being very happy, how about we choose today to change our perspective. Loving someone around you will make it hard to feel sorry for yourself. Being grateful that you have more than someone else might help open your eyes to how much more we can be grateful for.

As I said before, life is short. Although I miss him dearly, I had peace when my Dad passed away because I told him the week before the accident that I was proud of him. I loved him the best I knew how when he was here, and I know he knew that. I also know he loved me. So, today, do not waste any more time. Choose to be the love you want to see.

So, to summarize I’d like to leave you with 10 tips on to love:

1)    Leave your expectation low and keep your giving high

2)    Keep perspective: Strive to help the person worse off than you and strive to be more like the one who’s better off than you.

3)    When you’re feeling down, text someone else to ask how they’re doing

4)    When you’re feeling lonely, write a handwritten note to someone who’s been a good friend.

5)    Do something this year to help others around the time of your birthday- it may end up being the best birthday you’ve ever had, and you never know who you might meet.

6)    Be grateful for the people currently in your life instead of the ones who aren’t.

7)    Don’t expect anything and spend time to connect. Be there. Show up.

8)    Life is hard, choose to invest in friendships that will help ease your load and will help ease their load.

9)    Always be kind, the world is full of too much hate as it is.

10)    Life is short, tell those around you how much they mean to you. Don’t let things be unsaid.

For “Them”

I don’t know how to start this. But my heart is hurting for them, so this is post is dedicated to them.

Them? Yes, the ones who’ve been wounded deeply, but not by who you think. I think when we think of someone hurting us, we think of an “ex” or “dysfunctional family member” or “bi-polar boss” or even someone you thought was a friend but had their own agenda. But it’s not often that we think of another person in ministry or in a church setting. That is, until you’ve been the one hurt. And that’s where I begin.

This past week, I’ve run into several what I call “wounded warriors.”

For one reason or another they’ve left the church or the ministry they were involved with because something or someone went too far.

I want you to know that every time I hear of someone’s story whose been hurt. It’s hard to hold the tears back. Maybe it’s because I recognize and feel their pain. Recently, A wounded warrior, who did not know me until that day, prayed over me and I could no longer hold the tears back. She said, “Please comfort Christi because what she gave freely was used against her.”

I’m not writing this to demean anyone, but just to say that there is a real heartbreak happening not just outside our church walls but inside as well. It seems to be a topic the church remains silent on. I understand why. It’s very sensitive and we don’t want to be accusing our brothers or sisters. But at the same time, how does that saying go, “crap happens.” It’s hard to speak about it without doing more damage. However, there are a ton of “them” running around with a massive cannon ball wound in their heart. They have been so deeply wounded they want no part of church or ministry and I just want to say, I can understand where they, or you, may be coming from.

We are ALL a mess. The only difference between those inside the church and those outside the church is that we just admit we need a savior. Yet, sometimes, people in the church or ministry (me included) forget to admit that I need a savior and I try to do things on my own. I think this is where the hurting begins.

I am writing this blog to let you know that I am so sorry for the pain you’ve endured and I wish I could make it better.

I’ve seen first hand leadership that nearly destroyed those it was leading. I’ve observed unnecessary pressure that lead to physical ailments. I’ve seen those under leadership so fearful to make a move for dread of being chewed out. And also, fear of staying too quiet because that would be an issue too.

I’ve observed scripture thrown at people as a weapon. I’ve witnessed people’s character called into question and called traitors for no purpose at all except to usurp their power. And, I’ve seen people isolated and be called “out of Gods will” because they didn’t align 110% with the leader. I’ve seen false accusations of demon possession, seduction and adultery. All this for what? The sake the Gospel? The inflicted wounds were NOT coming from people who disagreed on beliefs but claimed to know the same God of love.

I’m sure you’ve heard “God told me this about you.” or “if you leave you won’t be under God’s blessing because God has blessed me and you’re under my umbrella.” “I’m your spiritual leader and your accountability so you need to tell me x,y or z.” You know what this is? Manipulation and an abuse of power and authority. And it is wrong!

I have never heard worse thing spoken about amazing people than when I entered the “ministry.” I have at times witness more support from those who didn’t attend church at all.

I get that there are some gray lines in ministry and in the church, but demanding information and using against someone else is wrong.

When someone allows you to pray for them, that is a PRIVILEGE and we should do everything within our power to PROTECT that person and that prayer request and deliver it safely to our Father, not to Julie or Jose.

I’ve heard a good leader is a good follower. Leadership should not be a dictatorship. We are one body with many parts. One part is not more important than the other. The people under a leader trusts the leader with information and that information should be protected and that person should be protected. Jesus shepherded his people. He was not a slave driver.

I still cry to this day because of some of the situations I faced. In fact, I cried just a few days ago. You know why? Because the situation that came about wrecked me. It was like a tsunami. It invaded and decimated my heart, mind and soul. A tsunami is a natural disasters and it takes a while for the place hit to come back from such devastation. And even after “coming back” it alters the landscape. The same is true for the warriors wounded by those in the ministry. I know I will never be the same person I was when I first was in ministry. I carry that wound with me.

I think the worst part about these situations and fall outs is that this is not the heart of God. In the midst of my situation, I got to the point where I’d cry (behind closed doors : the bathroom, hotel room, on lunch break) every day. It felt like my heart was pried open. It was one of the most confusing and conflicting times of my life. How could this be? We are all supposed to be on the same team.

But God was with me and I’ve never felt him closer than I did then — even with the confusion. I was reminded of his grace when the legalism was skyrocketing. I was reminded that only He is the judge — not them and not me. I didn’t even have the right to judge myself.

So my friends, I just want to say to the ones who’ve been hurt. I’m so sorry for what you’ve endured. I know no one is perfect, but we choose how we behave. And I believe the ones causing the most damage have unhealed wounds that are driving the hurt now inflicted on you and others.

So, my two cents is this: take time to heal. It will take time and perseverance. Get mad, take a few good licks on a punching bag, write your thoughts, share your story, get it out— don’t hold it in… And ask God to help you trust again. I know I need to do the same with other situations now. But give yourself time. It’s a wound and it’s a huge loss… and know that there are other wounded warriors that are here ❤️! I also want to add don’t give up on church and ministry. Take a break. But don’t give up. There are some amazing people. No one is perfect, but God can still use this pain as He uses all our pain.

Lastly, realize that restoration this side of eternity may not happen. Pray for it, seek it (if God is prompting you) but know we live in a fallen world and reconciliation might not happen in this life time.

“IF it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

And if it’s not possible, as Old Dominions says, “Love like there’s no such thing as a broken heart.”