This was a post I intended to write around Valentines day... (I just really want you guys to understand just how much I procrastinate with every post I do haha). This topic is, once again, something I have wanted to write about; but I've known it's going to end up being a little more time consuming to write in order to get my point across the way I want.
I suppose it's kind of fitting though... that I'm writing about love now... with everything going on in the world. There is so much contention, unrest, and hatred. It has caused a lot of anxiety and felt very overwhelming for me. It's sad to see people so at odds with each other during this time of pandemic. It feels like people don't understand what it means to truly love everyone. That means to me, we don't have to think the same, act the same, or look the same. It means we recognize each other as unique individuals who are all on a unique journey; but that we also recognize that one special identity we each share, as children of God. EVERY. SINGLE. one of us, regardless of skin color, financial state, status, where we've gone to school, if we've gone to school, where we live, etc. We have been asked us to "mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort". That has definitely hit me on a broader scale in these last couple of weeks with everything going on, and been a lesson I hope to continue to learn and grow on.
Okay, so let's get into it... let's talk about love, shall we? Now I am no troll from Frozen... I'm not a love expert, (bad joke), but I still want to share what I've learned on the subject of love in the last few years and how those thoughts and beliefs have evolved.
There are obviously different types when it comes to love. There's the kind of love you have for your parents, your siblings, your kids, there's romantic love, there's the love you may feel for your close friends, love for the community in which you take part in, and a general love for the world around you. In my opinion, and from my experience there is one kind of love that strings it all together. It is a powerful base that can be carried with you in any interaction you may have no matter where you go or who you meet. It is genuine, it is being aware of those around you. The kind of love I am talking about is a Christlike love.
Now what does that mean? I feel like I heard it so much in church growing up. And while I felt like I understood it, it hasn't been until these last few years, having my own experiences, that I have really understood it in its full meaning. What does it mean to have a Christlike love? The obvious answer is to love as Christ did. I feel like whenever I try to explain this it's so hard, because there is so much deeper meaning that goes into it than any words I could say.
I always relate back to one experience in particular. Now while it is too personal to share on my blog, (I know, shocking - it's rare anything is too personal for me to share), I still would like to try and explain the takeaways I had from the experience without giving too many details into what that experience was.
It's no secret my marriage was hard... I mean... I am divorced. As it became clear it was only going to get harder, I felt the need to pray for the kind of love I knew I needed for my spouse. It was a long time.... it felt like forever... but the time finally came when that prayer was answered. And when it came, it was like my eyes and my heart had truly been opened for the first time.
We were married for six years. I've mentioned before, things were rocky right off the bat. But, to our credit, we both spent a good majority of those years working our tails off, continuously mending, forgiving, trying to work things out, and keep together the promise we had made to God, ourselves, and to each other. It was hard. Really, hard. Neither one of us were perfect. Those imperfections caused a lot of unintentional pain. At some point, for me, I believe I numbed myself down entirely. It was the only way for me to survive in my marriage. I think about this process somewhat as an emotional likeness to being a cancer patient. While chemotherapy can save lives by killing the harmful cells, it in turn kills the good cells with it. Some patients lose their sense of taste, many lose their hair. My Dad being a cancer patient, had to have his shoulders and hips replaced due to the damage the chemotherapy caused.
Relating this to the emotional damage I experienced; I had subconsciously numbed myself down to protect myself. While numbing myself protected me from any harmful actions or words, it also detached me from any conscious emotion of joy, happiness, and love. Now, I don't want this to read as my ex husband being this terrible person that was the sole cause to what took place. There were many things that attributed to this state. My marriage, as a whole was a major contributing factor, but I also dealt with a lot of major life changes all at once, preexisting depression and anxiety, and a sleeping disorder. But the point is, emotional damage and trauma did take place, and while I yearned to feel love for my at the time husband, it seemed like that emotion, that feeling, was completely out of reach.
It wasn't until this particular experience that I finally felt that love I had prayed to feel for so long. And wow. It was powerful. It was life changing. I wish I could go into all the details so you could more fully understand the depth, but for now, I'm just going to relay the most important takeaways.
I walked away from that experience, able to look at my husband, past his imperfections, past our current situation, and see him, (as cheesy as it may sound), through God's eyes. As a loved child. Someone so special, so wanted, and so important. I could feel that God wanted the best for us, but also for Him as an individual. It was as if I got a glimpse into His sorrow and His pain He felt for my ex husband as he was sharing in this difficult circumstance with me, even if it was at opposite ends. I felt like I got a glimpse into the yearning God must feel for him, as He could see past everything and see Him with his greatest potential.
I remember looking at my at-the-time husband, and it was as if in one moment, the way I looked at him had changed and I saw him, truly in that moment, as God saw him. In the midst of this intense situation, I felt impressed to tell Him that God wanted Him to know how much He loved Him, and as I said the words, tears came to my eyes and I realized just how much I loved Him, and for the first time in what felt like forever, I was able to look him in the eyes, with a genuine and sincere heart and tell him through my tears, that I also wanted him to know how much I loved him. And like something out of a story book, as I said those words, I felt it in its entirety.
I know it may seem a little odd relaying such a personal experience from a relationship that no longer exists, but, I do feel a sense of need for myself and for those who may be experiencing similar things to share some of these experiences. They are personal, hard, and maybe even a little awkward - but they are important. These things aren't talked about enough and I think there are times, when appropriate, that they should be. They can bring hope and direction to situations so unprecedented. I have had too many experiences in my marriage that are so sacred and profound to me, to simply ignore them and just be another divorce statistic - as if it was all for nothing, because it wasn't. My marriage meant everything to me. It brought me my boys, but it also taught me one of the most important lessons I could every learn; not only what it means, but what it feels like to love unconditionally. To love as Christ does.
We are all flawed and will probably remain flawed in one way or another until we leave this earth, but we all have the potential to become perfected through the Savior. Think about that for a moment. The people you love so much already, with all their flaws, will become even better; perfected. Their weaknesses made stronger, their strengths amplified. Each and every person on this earth holds that potential within them. I like to believe that is God's view of us - because He knows the beginning, He knows the end, and He knows everything in between, and He already knows everything we will have gone through to get us to our greatest potential. But because of the gift of agency, He allows us to go through it and understands we are going to get there in our own individualized way. Remember, healing is not linear.