I was only four years old.
I cried myself to sleep so many times. Other times my mom would bust into my room and say, “You should be thankful he’s not here. He’s not a good man, and he certainly wouldn’t be a good dad.”
My four-year-old mind couldn’t conceive what she was saying. Of course he would be a good daddy—because he was mine! Isn’t every girl supposed to have a daddy? My young mind was tormented with thoughts. I was in agony. I can still remember how deeply it hurt. I sat in my room alone in the late-night hours, crying out for my daddy.
And so the father wound entered into my life. It was that wound that leaves girls needy and searching for love in all the wrong places. I became nuts searching for my missing piece: love.
I actively sought love. I pursued passionate love, romantic love, and friendship. I searched high and low for a love that would make me feel valuable. I yearned for love. I simply wanted to be worthy of someone’s love.
You can only be rejected so many times before you start to believe you deserve it. At that time of my life, I felt alone and unlovable.
The world defines love as: profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend; a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
I tried out this love many times, but it is not true love. This love is empty. It fails. It’s not patient or kind because human beings are the ones dishing out this kind of love.
It wasn’t until I was twenty-four years old that I heard of agape. It was in the darkest and most lost time of my life, a time of utter brokenness. I was driving with a coworker when, in his efforts to console and counsel me, he explained to me the differences among three types of love: eros, philia, and agape.
I had been in and out of church for most of my nearly twenty-four years, yet I had never heard of agape. My coworker described agape as unconditional love. Unconditional means not subject to any conditions.
· It is always there for you, no matter how bad or good you are.
· You cannot mess it up!
· You cannot do anything to lessen it or increase it; it is the same, steady love day in and day out.
· This type of love does not keep track of all the things you do wrong.
· It does not stifle you or imprison you.
· It is the kind of love that fills you and frees you.
· It changes you because it’s so radical!
How is this possible? How in the world did I grow up in church and never know this? What?!
I had spun out of control the previous fourteen years, deprived of love, when love was available all along. God is love:
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NIV)
Love is not a feeling; it’s a person! It’s Jesus Christ!
Read through 1 Corinthians 13 and make a list of “Love Is….” You will see that God defines His kind of love (agape) in this chapter.
My coworker guided me to this truth, and I found unconditional love. I did not fully comprehend the significance of this concept at the time, but I have since come to understand that I am completely loved. I felt rejected and worthless, but those feelings were not my true identity.
The truth is that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). God Himself “created my inmost being,” and He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). He set me apart before I was born as one who was and is and always will be loved—by Him.
We are the Church, and we need to wake up and stop constantly fixating on everyone’s flaws. We cannot afford to forget who God is and what He did out of His abundant love for every single one of us:
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
We did not and cannot deserve His sacrifice and love for us, yet they are ours to receive. How dare the church allow another child to endure a life of desperately searching for love because no one shared with him or her the blessing of God’s free gift!
Jesus Christ gave His disciples this command:
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35 NIV)
This is your commission, your calling, and your equipping! You are already ready!
The only logical reason we would not be sharing this almost-too-good-to-be-true love is because we have yet to fully comprehend it for ourselves. To know love compels you to share love!
Will you rise to the challenge and share agape with someone every day this year? In one year, 365 days, I challenge you to convey this message of unconditional love to the people God brings into your life.
Tell someone, “You are loved. It is part of your identity. It is etched into your being, and it can never be removed. It is in your very fingerprints—every indelible line testifies that you are loved.”
Will you accept this challenge?