Over the past several years I have done a lot of work on the inside to rid myself of many of the emotional blocks one creates: bitterness, fear, anger, unforgiveness, a closed heart. For the past 3 years, God has literally shielded me while He loved on me and revealed my own value to me.
The process hasn't always been smooth. It actually was pretty painful at times. There were times where I literally grabbed my heart and said "Lord, it hurts too bad". He loved me anyway. He showed me that even when it hurts, even when it is hard, even when it all falls apart, He still loves me. That was so different than the earthly love I had experienced in my early 20s.
There were times over the past 3 years where I blamed God for everything. I blamed Him for it all falling apart. I blamed Him that my love story wasn't what He had promised. Even still, He loved me. He held me. He wrapped me in His arms. He forgave me when I yelled at Him. He wiped my tears when I cried. He gave me grace when I screwed things up big time. He romanced me when my heart was lonely.
He showed me a Corinthians kind of love.
So when I started being really honest with myself about where I wanted to be when I turned 30 and I opened my heart to a great love, I admitted that I had been wounded. I've healed.....but the fading scars still remain. I am grateful for them because they remind me of His grace, but in all fairness to myself and to the immense amount of time God has spent loving me, I needed to acknowledge that they are there in order to not re-open the wounds He has already healed.
I also spent a lot of time praying about the woman I desired to be in my next relationship. I certainly have not been perfect and made a lot of mistakes at a young age, and I wanted to learn from those mistakes so that the next time I had a great love, I could experience a more mature love. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for grace. God answered.
The message of much care and respect kept resting on my heart. It would come to me at the most unusual times and in the most unsuspecting circumstances. One day while hanging on the back porch, I was moved to download The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. A dear friend had talked about it a few week's prior and I am so glad I did.
The foundations of the book are basic. In love, we generally speak 5 love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, physical touch, and acts of service. I found it as a useful tool to begin recognizing the things I need in love and also the things I am willing and capable of giving in love.
It is certainly an answer to my prayers and desire for a mature love. I can now see why God kept me in waiting over the past 3 years while He loved on me. He knew I needed to know what Corinthians love really felt like because He desires that for me here on earth.
I'll end with one of my favorite lessons from the book:
We needed love before we "fell in love," and we will need it as long as we live.