Young woman reading bible

Falling in Love with Yourself

Love–what a word! It is a small word possessing only four letters, but it is loaded to the brim with every imaginable feeling. The Greeks have many words to describe the multifaceted concept of love. They divide the agape kind of love from the philia kind of love. The agape describes the divine, while the philia describes the brotherly affection between siblings and shared among humans. They use the word eros–from which we get the word erotic–to describe the intimate love of a man and his wife. Love … what an intimidating feeling to describe accurately. It is limiting at best to be left with words alone to describe the abstract feelings of the heart, but to have only one word to describe all the types and levels of feelings, a word that means different things to different people–well, we often fail to describe the variety or the intensity of the intoxicating impact of the love feeling.

Love is to life what a scent is to a rose. It is the spice of life, and it adorns life as clouds decorate the skies. Many women have tasted the nectar of romance. Many men have swayed beneath the influence of the memory of a special moment shared with that special someone. Even the aged see youth rekindled in the emblazoned moments of affection and the displayed admission of concern. From the cooing sound of a contented baby, to the calm breathing of an aged grandmother, there is the constant need for and appreciation of affections that affect the ordinary and transform the mediocre. Yes, love is the magic elixir of the soul. It is a common denominator, something we all need regardless of our varied perspectives or vicissitudes of life. Whether love is communicated through a soft touch or a moistened eye, it is the message that we need. “The method is immaterial in comparison to the magnitude of the message itself.

There is no drug that can compare with the intense, passionate feelings that are aflame when the heart is in love. It is love that causes the senses to heighten. It is love that causes the heart to pump honey to the soul and sedation to the mind. It is the sweet taste of the honeycomb that satisfies the taste buds of the soul. Without love, life tastes bland and success is empty.

What can compete with love? It has kept the sick man alive and made the well man feel sick. It is love that gives us courage and yet love that makes us afraid. It weakens the mighty and strengthens the feeble. It is the most intoxicating feeling that any of us will ever have the privilege of experiencing. If it is given to the worthy, it is reciprocated and fruitful. If it is invested on the empty opportunist, it can create a pain that nauseates the soul and afflicts the mind. It can make an average person seem extraordinary. It has the capabilities to alter our perceptions and heighten our vulnerability. It is love that made Christ the and still that same love that made him arise from the grave.

Without a doubt, we all want to experience love, but we must ask, Are we in love with others or are we in love with the idea of being in love? Many are the women, and men as well, who have turned to the arms of someone looking for the assurance that ultimately must come from within. How bitter they become when they look around for that which they must find inside themselves. They saddle their relationships down with undue weight and hold their partners in a perpetual state of guilt. They blame their partners for not being there for them. But what is actually meant is that their partners are not giving them what they expected. The greater question should be stated, Is it fair to expect anyone to bear the brunt of a life filled with pain and dysfunction? Who can restore what life has taken out of you, but God? Who can remind you of what God has promised you, but you? You are your own preacher, and occasionally you must say the kind of speech to yourself that enables you to be productive and accomplished.

There are many types of love. But the one that we must begin with is the tantalizing allurement of the impassioned heart that enables us to love others. It is that passion that must start at home before it goes abroad. For the greatest of human perceptions is when the heart can look into the mirror and smile at the image that is reflected therein. It is the grace that enables us to wink at ourselves and appreciate out own gifts. It is a healthy mind that can celebrate itself. Then and only then can we determine whether we are loving others because they are lovable or because we are so famished for love that we will settle for anyone or anything that gives to us what we should give to ourselves.

Light a candle, play a song, take a walk, and meditate on your own accomplishments. It is a poor hen that will not crow in her own nest. Quiet moments alone allow us to explore how deeply we are committed to our own sense of healthy well-being and fortitude. You must become the motivational speaker that is self-challenging. The passion to go forward is too important to be left to the happenstance of someone else’s concerns for us. We need to be motivated, but it is dangerous to allow that need to become so overwhelming and desperate that it can only find fulfillment in the actions of someone else. We need to be self-motivated in order to survive.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things to achieve is the ability to be motivated by ourselves. Most of us have a tendency to live and receive motivation as martyrs. We live for others and their causes, making our own needs and presence secondary pursuits. Sadly, sometimes we place ourselves so far on the back burner that the dreams boil out and leave only a parched pot where once we had personal expectation. When dreams boil out, a scorching heat of stress and anxiety causes the kettle to give a shrill sound before the burning begins. That shrill sound can be heard in our excesses and overindulgences, which camouflage the fact that we are frustrated with dreams that are denied and hopes that seem deferred. The burning, destructive, compulsive behaviors could all be avoided if we only, with patience and perseverence, took life in small doses and allowed ourselves the privilege of having an appointment with our own attention and scheduled ourselves as clients that we must see before the day is over. In short, take time for yourself. Listen to the hissing sound before you catch fire!

It has been said that love is a many-splendored thing. If that is true, then one of those splendors should be directed inward. While we value and validate the worth of others, we must also take the time to fondly affirm our own sense of personhood and self-development. We must know that love is not an optional accessory that we can choose to exclude from life. It epitomizes the human experiences and celebrates all that we enjoy. It gives us distinction from lower forms of life whose presence is monitored by time alone. Our life is not the mere collection of days and months. We are connoisseurs of the fine architectural design of life, love, and the exchange of human energy. We are moved and motivated by the spirited synergy that comes from the passion of experiences and the fine nectar of moments shared.

The real challenge that we all have is to find a place of balance between martyrdom and narcissism. The art of avoiding extremes is an art that is drawn on the canvas of maturity and painted with the abstract strokes of many experiences. The balance is as vital to you as it is to a high-flying trapeze act. We need not become self-consumed, but please realize that there must be something between selfishness and self-denial. This is not the blaring clarion call to become self-centered and egotistic. But it is a cry to balance the heart of women who have allowed everyone’s plight to become more important than their own. It is a cry to recognize your strengths before you become lost in a perpetual state of being a cheerleader for someone else and never yourself.

This is not just a feminine problem. It is actually a human problem. Yet the maternal instinct in women increases their susceptibility to it. Maternal instincts are great on a child, but don’t try them on a man. They are dangerous when coupled with the societal bias that tends to usher women into roles of subservient behavior. It makes the lady a prime candidate to become a martyr for any cause but her own. When this happens, the milk of compassion in a woman often hardens in the breast and causes the heart to ache. There was nothing wrong with the milk. It was just invested into something or someone that was not worthy. There is nothing worse than giving the right thing to the wrong person.

(To Be Continued)

By Bishop T. D Jakes

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