Where is the love? 1st Corithians 13:4-8 clearly explains what LOVE is:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”
Based on my reading of that scripture, it is clear to me that love is an action word. Love requires you to demonstrate by your actions how you feel. If you really love something or someone, your actions will reflect the love that you have for that person or thing. For example, I really love my wife and our beautiful daughter, so through our communications and interactions, on a daily basis, I try to demonstrate how much I LOVE them. That doesn’t mean I do everything perfect or that I respond appropriately all of the time, but it does mean that it is never my intention to make my wife feel unloved.
I also love myself, which isn’t something that I always knew how to do. I learned how to love myself by fallling in love with God. But even with loving myself, I’m still my worst critic and I’m hard on myself about setting and achieving goals. Me saying that I love myself means that I can holistically look at myself and say that I’m proud of the mature man that I am becoming. I’ve learned to prioritize my heart and things/people that I allow to influence me. I’ve learned to control my response to people who I know don’t have my best interest at heart. My self-esteem is not tied to things or people but to those internal qualities that I’m grateful I possess…like my ability to genuinely be happy for other people and my heart for God.
I started off with explaining LOVE and how I feel about it, only to segway into what I really wanted to discuss…and that is RELATIONSHIPS. I personally believe that you should not be in a relationship where there is no love. I think life is too short to entangle yourself with people who do not love you or have your best interest at heart. Everybody wants a “bae” but they don’t want to do the work required. How can someone be “bae” if they don’t love you enough: (1) to speak life into you; (2) to encourage you to be the best you; (3) to be honest with you; (4) to pray with you; or (5) take the time and get to know you. Now this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but I’ve seen so many relationships go bad because of the heart condition of one of the parties. Again…it all goes back to LOVE! You have to LOVE yourself BEFORE you can love anybody else!
If you are in a place where you love yourself, then and only then is it time for you to even start dating or courting someone. Just so that I am clear…even in my early 20s, I never thought it was smart to date for fun, and because it was my heart’s desire not to have sex before I got married, I never entered a relationship without consciously thinking about whether she could be my wife. I watched my friends jump in and out of relationships, which only caused them baggage that would be unconsciously brought into their next relationship. By the time we reach our early 20s, we all have “life baggage” that is developed based on our life experience. In your 20s, you should be exploring that baggage and assessing why you feel the way that you feel. You need alone time to really examine who you are and know what you want. You have to learn yourself and LOVE who you are before you can allow someone else to have a piece of your heart.
So here is my advice…
Men, when you decide that you are in a place where you love yourself and are ready to find your wife, you are saying, “God, I am ready for the responsibility that comes with being a husband and the spiritual covering for my family.” 11 months into my marriage, I can tell you first hand that it is work…the best, most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my life. I take my role as a husband very seriously. I am responsible for my wife, and our beautiful daughter.
You have to be intentional and consistent with your actions. Let God lead you to the woman that that He made for you. He is an intentional God who has a purpose for your future marriage. You have to seek Him, figure out what that purpose is, and communicate that with the woman God made for you. You need to have a vision for your family, before you decide that you want a family. When you marry a woman, whether you all have children or not, she is your family and you have to be responsible for her heart and your heart from that point forward.
Women, if you believe you are ready to be a wife, check what’s in your heart first. Figure out why do you desire to be married and assess what you plan to bring into your marriage. Because I strongly believe that marriage is not something that you should enter into without really exploring what it means to be married, learning what it means to be a wife, and truly submitting your heart to God. I’m a proponent of you doing your self assessment first. Don’t wait until you get a boo to figure out what value you will add to his life. You should know that upfront and be waiting for him at the doe when he finds you. In addition, once he finds you, you need to love and repect him for who he is and not what He has. Pray that God speaks clearly to you before you commit your life to a man.
When I was courting Sondra, literally two weeks into our courtship, God spoke clearly and told me that she was the one I had been praying for. Over the next 4.5 months after I heard from God and before I proposed, I probably asked her 1,000 questions because I needed to know what was in her heart. I needed to know her views on life, her goals and dreams, whether she liked the flat or drum part on a chicken wing (lbs), whether she was willing to have the 3 kids that I wanted, what her 5 year plan was, what her dream proposal/engagement looked like, how often she wanted to get her hair done, whether she could cook or not, whether she was willing to learn if she couldn’t, any important exs that I needed to know about, her favorite color, her life story, etc. They were very intentional questions. I had decided that because God has already spoken so clearly…after us only talking for 2 weeks, I needed to be intentional with my actions. Real men don’t play games.
The best part about our courting process to me, which spoke volumes about what was in her heart, was that she never asked me how much money I made. She knew I was a lawyer and I took her out on nice dates…but she never asked me how much money I made or why I was living at my grandma’s house (although, because I was insecure about that and was in a place of transition, I put that out there upfront). It’s amazing to me how my life literally skyrocketed to the next level when I was obedient to God.
All that to say:
- Marriage is AMAZING!
- You must love yourself before you can love other people appropriately.
- Guard your heart by being selective and choosing your relationships.
- Do your research while dating/courting and ask the “hard” questions up front;
- Real men are intentional, have vision, and don’t play games.
- A woman will show you what’s in her heart if she feels that she can trust you with that information. If you don’t prove to her that she can trust you, you are wasting your time and hers.