During this time, I try to reflect on the focus of the season. So, on this special week of February, I zero in on the obvious…LOVE.
By definition, love is – an intense feeling of deep affection for something; or toward someone.
From the Christian perspective, love is also one of the nine Fruit of the Spirit.
It probably goes without saying that eight (8) of the fruit are very easy to ponder. Love being the first one.
The notion of love is easy to consider, but the realities of the disappointment in those who we love becomes difficult.
Did you get that?
It’s not LOVE that’s difficult. It’s the conduits (people) for which love is to reciprocally flow through that make it harder to conceive.
Guard Your Love
A friend recently shared with me that when we attach titles, roles, and expectations on people, their ability to disappoint us and hurt us becomes greater. Thus, it gives them power. If we considered removing these identifiers, it gives us the power to better reserve or protect our feelings. Naturally thinking, it sounds reasonable.
At the beginning of February, I shared a quote (or rather, it was lyrics excerpted from a song) from Nina Simone to the Dawn of a New Day 365 Women’s Facebook Group which said,
“Learn to leave the table when LOVE is longer being served.”~Nina Simone~
It struck a chord with many of the women in the group. And I think, quite naturally, most of our thoughts went in one direction. Which was… “If you’re at the table and others seated are not loving you properly…GET UP!” Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now ask… “Is it easy?”
Let’s Talk About Love
One of my fellow sisters, Ashley Thomas, messaged me shortly after the post and said that the message resonated with her so much that she wanted me to come on her podcast and talk about it (instead of another topic we planned to discuss later).
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I could offer to this conversation equal to the previous topic we were to discuss. I mean…I can talk about “daddy issues” and how they affect you with no problem. However, I’m not so sure I’d consider myself the expert on talking about “love.”
I’m sure some would agree that though we are in some form of healthy loving relationships, some supposed “loving relationships” can be hit or miss. So, I wasn’t quite sure where this discussion would go.
But Ashley and I are both women of faith, who trust God to lead us, so I agreed to it. Plus, I’ve found that the uncertainty about certain topics makes the need to discuss or process them greater.
I had jotted down different scriptures on love and friendship that I had planned to sprinkle throughout our discussion when needed. They would, in my opinion, all be appropriate. My favorite being 1 Corinthians 13 – what I like to call the Love Chapter.
The Question of Love
As we began to talk, we first started with the question of why people (mostly women) continue to stay “at the table” (or in relationships) longer than we should. The question was asked,
”How will we know when it’s time to get up?”
So, you would have thought we would discuss mistreatment or incongruency in relationships; lack of support and compassion; being unequally yoked (whether talking about an intimate love relationship or any other relationship/friendship). But the conversation took a turn.
We ended up not talking about other people at all; and the conversation shifted to…SELF-REFLECTION.
Is Love at the My Table?
It’s common and easy for people to consider SOMEONE ELSE for the cause of why something isn’t going right for THEM.
- YOU don’t understand ME.
- YOU don’t know how I feel.
- YOU don’t know how to love ME.
We would probably say,
“I’m getting up from this table because of YOU.”
But could I submit to you… What if you need to get up from the table because YOU don’t yet understand YOUR LOVE…within?
What Do I Bring to the Table?
You haven’t yet learned how to love who YOU ARE and what YOU bring to the table; so therefore, you’re unable to process the true reality of what love looks like or should be.
You can’t articulate what you need from others, or have an expectation, because YOU DON’T KNOW. Maybe through your life experiences and/or trauma, what love SHOULD BE has been thwarted and distorted.
In fact, you might not even have anything to offer at the table at this time, because you’re broken or empty.
You’ve hoped to find others at the table who will heal your brokenness within or fill you with what they have. Then, you become upset or disappointed when their cup is empty or doesn’t have in it what you need to quinch your thirst.
I don’t mean to offend…but…my sister…you may need to get up from the table, because it might be YOU who is hurting it.
Your Love is Hurting the Table
Until you are able to honestly identify the keys to your wholeness, nothing at the table will ever satisfy you. You, my friend, will need to go into your closet, your secret place (prayer closet). You’ll need to talk to God and ask Him to show you…YOU.
While you’re in the closet, there are some things you’ll have to take off. In this place of nakedness, God will begin to speak to you and repair you; making you whole from the inside out.
Rotten Fruit of the Flesh
You see, before Galatians Chapter 5 gets to verse 22 and the Fruit of the Spirit…back in verses 16-21, it talks about the desires of the flesh that are ALWAYS (even unconsciously) in opposition against the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
The desires that rest “naturally” in our flesh are: jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, hate, envy, drunkenness (or other addictions), and lust of all kinds. Laws were made because of the human tendency towards these things.
Rev. Wheeler Parker, cousin of Emmett Till, said in a recent docuseries,
“Laws can change behavior, but they don’t change the heart.”
Matters of the Heart
It’s not ironic that the heart (whether outside of the body as a drawing or the fleshly thumper on the inside) has always been associated with love. Which would explain why God is always concerned with the condition of our heart. But it also explains why the enemy wants to keep it contaminated.
The scripture tells us in Galatians 5:21 that those who practice the desires of the flesh won’t inherit the kingdom of God. That’s heartbreaking. Because they, in my opinion, will never encounter the ultimate experience of TRUE LOVE.
Those desires outlined in Galatians 5:19-21… Those are things we need to take off in the closet. We need to give them to God so He can redress us in the Fruit He intended.
This is the clothing you need when you’re at the table. But it will be up to you to keep your fruitful clothes on and stay connected with Him to get daily and periodic wardrobe fittings. You’re always going to need those. Why? Because life is happening to everyone and the scenes change. Just when you’ve gained your balance in this season, the balance of someone connected to you has just shifted. In order to love them through it, your regular wardrobe fittings are necessary.
What Will You Bring Back to the Table?
When you come back to the table, because now you’ll understand what love is within you, you’ll know what to give to others, as well as what to ask and expect from them. You’ll realize that at the table is not only a place to receive, but it is also a place where you will serve.
You’ll realize that not EVERYONE at the table is able to offer anything in addition to what they came with. But because you’re whole, you’ll have grace for them. And, you’ll also know how to protect yourself from the broken fragments they spew toward you from time to time. They can’t help it. Hurt people hurt people. But your fruit is growing and it is evident.
Bring Your Fruit to the Table
Know that you can use your fruit to help someone else; but not because you’re their savior, which is something else Ashley and I discussed. You can only be a guide through experience for them, but God is their source.
Yeah, one of the main reasons we sit at the table unguarded for so long is because we think that WE can save OTHER PEOPLE. We think that we can LOVE them out of their issues. But that type of love is actually manipulation. It’s only present to benefit itself, not necessarily the other person.
Here’s the truth… Until that person makes their way to their closet to change, your hopes for them won’t get very far. You’ll both just continue to PROJECT your individual needs on each other without understanding. When we “project,” we negatively act out on other people based on our insecurities.
Remember when I was talking about those eight Fruit of the Spirit that we desire and are able to perceive so well? Well, in order for any of them to fully mature they must depend on this one fruit in particular…PATIENCE, also referred to as LONGSUFFERING.
While eight (8) is the number for NEW BEGINNINGS (and we all want new beginnings in love, peace, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control); nine (9) is the number that represents COMPLETION. And we need the ninth fruit of longsuffering to be complete in us to aid in our wholeness.
Love Sometimes Suffers
The scripture says,
Did you recognize that?
Love rejects or is contrary to everything that the flesh desires. So, inevitably, most of the feelings we’ve commonly had toward love have been false, if we’re truthful.
Bring Love to the Table
Maybe it’s time for all of us to get up from the table and freshen up. The service we’re receiving AND GIVING right now may not be the best. And that’s okay. Fortunately, the manager at the restaurant where we’re all eating (GOD) is the greatest example of LOVE and PATIENCE, and all the Fruit of the Spirit for that matter. And He freely gives them to us every day…without hesitation. He lovingly and patiently waits for us to desire Him and seek Him. In the meantime, He shows us His grace and mercy faithfully. Hmmm…sounds exactly like that type of lover we should pursue.
So, in a time of self-reflection, let’s back up from the table for a moment. Gain our bearing. And let’s come back ready to serve the love that has been made whole within us.
Know that you are welcomed at the table, Sunshine!
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
* Note – If you’d like to hear the conversation between me and Ashley Thomas, Founder and Creator of Jesus and My Girls Podcast, it will air on May 01, 2022.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope this message has brought some value to you. If it has, COMMENT and tell me about how you’ve interpreted LOVE. How’s it going for you now? If you struggle with giving or receiving love, what do you find most difficult?
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