I have never liked Valentine’s Day. I used to dread going to the store to be mocked by all the pink hearts. The jewelry commercials on TV constantly reminded me that, yep, I am still single. Going to the campus post office meant seeing all the other girls get flowers and my box remain painfully empty. It was about more than being single, though, it was about feeling I am unloved by everyone around me.
Yet, an amazing thing has started to happen in the last year: I’ve started to learn to love myself. More than that though, I have started to learn to really accept the love of my friends.
Why is love so hard to accept? I’ve always been one to give love freely, but accept it? No way. I truly believed for most of my life that I was unlovable, and that the only reason people put up with me was because of all the things I did for them. You see, somewhere along the way in life a nasty lie crept its way into my head. In my darkest moments a little voice to whispered to me, “People do not love you for who you are. People love you for what you can do for them; nothing more than that”.
Loved is not something I felt growing up. I believed that if I wanted people to love me, I would have to earn it. This belief has followed me my whole life, and has gotten me into some really bad and hurtful situations; situations that in reality just left me feeling more unloved and unwanted. Nothing I did was ever enough, and so I started to feel I would never be enough.
I have come to realize that, in order to protect myself, I very likely kept myself from accepting the love my friends were offering. It’s not that they did not love me. I would not allow myself to accept that love.
I met my friend, Romy, in treatment a few years ago. She was the house mom. She has seen me at both my best and at my absolute worst. There were days I sat in the office and screamed at her. I was not always an easy person to be around. I look back sometimes quite ashamed of my behavior. Yet, she has not left. Romy and I have been friends for 5 years now. I did nothing to earn her love, and yet she loves me. She has taught me what unconditional love looks like.
The best valentine I could ever receive was written a long, long time before I was born or even thought of. This Valentine’s 66 books tell me the story of a loving God whose love for me was constant before I was even around to try to earn that love. It tells me of a God that loved me so much, that even while I was not perfect or thin, or had done anything to earn that love, He still was willing to take my place and die for me.
The Love Jar (Jincy Gibson)
Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord (Jincy Gibson)
Freedom From the Past (Mallory Hood)