This month we traditionally focus on love.
For some it is a time of relational joy, optimism and hope, while for others it is a time of frustration, pessimism and pain. This dichotomy is one that has existed for years.
There exists within all of us a desire to be loved and feel needed. Many people settle for dysfunction just to fill a void. What this exposes is a variety of intrapersonal and interpersonal issues that we carry around. Chief among them are low self-esteem and codependency.
When our primary source of affirmation comes from others, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Rather than learn the powerful lessons of self-affirmation, many place that heavy burden on others.
As a consequence, we devalue our own significance. The Bible says in Mark 12:3, “love your neighbor as yourself.” How you love yourself becomes the model by which you love others. Self-discovery is powerful. When you understand the extraordinary gifts you possess, you then realize your value.
As you navigate through this month of “love,” perhaps you should consider the following:
1. Learn the true meaning of loving yourself. No one can adequately love you unless you first love you. When you love yourself, you have come to grips with your flaws and failures and put them in perspective so that you can move forward. If people genuinely love you, they can handle your story. Rather than judge you, they affirm it as a part of your growth.
2. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Society can stigmatize people who have chosen to be alone. We should applaud people who are choosing to reconnect with themselves rather than rush into unhealthy relationships. Take time to engage in self-reflection and self-discovery. Invest in your vision and achieve your goals. This time allows you to be content with “me” before becoming “we.”
3. Wait for the right one rather than rush to the wrong one. Don’t rush into a relationship because of the pressure from society. There are physical and mental consequences of being in a relationship with someone who does not share your vision and values. Learn to wait, knowing that what you are looking for is probably looking for you.
4. Don’t sacrifice your dreams on the altar of a relationship. Many couples decide to negotiate a plan where one person fulfills a goal while the other supports them. After the goal is obtained, the other person pursues their dream. Anyone who truly loves you will seek to understand and affirm your dream and allow space in the relationship for it to come to fruition. You have to do what works for you and your family. However, I believe that healthy relationships never cause you to forfeit your dream.
Take time to RESET your perspective of love. Be aware of how you give and receive it. Don’t expect from others what you are not willing to give to yourself. Remember, love is not expressed in what money can buy, but rather in the intangibles that last a lifetime.
Bishop Joseph Walker is presiding bishop-elect of Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International and senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville.