“Write down what love means to you.” My counselor Jane requested, as she handed me a blank piece of paper.
All I could think of was the pain and abuse I had endured over the last thirteen years. Images and conversations flashed through my mind as the word love was used to inflict pain, manipulation, and control. After the abuse, the words “I love you,” were used to manipulate my faith into forgiveness and to forget what happened.
With tears in my eyes, I replied to Jane. “Everything good I thought about love has turned into something bad. “
Focus on Healthy Loving Experiences
Jane placed her hand on mine. She asked, “What about how you love your sons? I want you to close your eyes and focus on how you hug, play, and feel about them in your heart.”
Once a closed my eyes, hundreds of images of me hugging them, playing with them, tickling them, and telling them I love them flooded my mind. My love for my sons was full of kindness, goodness, and joy. Our love was pure and endless. My memories and the love I feel for my boys calmed my mind and heart.
Jane asked me to open my eyes and to write down what the love of my boys means to me. She prompted me with the following questions:
Love means ______________________________________________________
Love looks like ____________________________________________________
Love feels like ______________________________________________________
Love says __________________________________________________________
Love treats me like __________________________________________________
My pen filled the white page with phrases, emotions, and experiences of exceptional love. Our love was pure and selfless. Our love was spoken and unspoken. Our love was never-failing and never-ending. Our love encouraged and inspired. Our love had safe boundaries and was able to say “no.” Our love gave correction and had accountability. Our love was respectful and honoring.
Revelation in Your Words and Truth
After writing the answers to the prompts, I discovered how I loved and treated others was quite different than how I allowed others to treat me, with their professed love. My list showed me how much I had given and how much my abusive husband had taken in our toxic marriage. I also realized I had developed an unhealthy pattern of over giving and being willing to be hurt just to have people in my life.
I lived through the damage of using my old broken design of love, and I was done using it. I chose to find Christ’s pure design of love as I studied his life in God’s word. The following five verses stirred a hunger in me to know and to live in the exceptional love of Jesus Christ.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 1 Timothy 1:7
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25
“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
Change is a Process
The first step to changing your design of love is to realize that your design is broken and unhealthy. The next step is to find a love design that is pure, respectful, and honoring and to live in this design. The only source or design of pure love comes from God in the form of Jesus Christ. He is our example and assurance that we can live in his exceptional love as Jesus dwells in us every day.
When you live in a progressive intimate relationship with Jesus, you will feel his love transforming your broken love design. His love will reveal all that he needs to heal, one piece at a time. You will know joy, love, and peace beyond anything you have experienced before.
Jesus can’t wait for you to live in his exceptional love. Start your quest to discover and to live in his pure love design by getting my blog about love every week. I know what it’s like to feel confused and love-starved. I am also living proof that Jesus can heal your broken heart and he can redeem your life through his transforming love.
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