Well after just celebrating Valentines day and especially considering that I’m still riding the feeling of bliss coming with my recent engagement to the love of my life, it seems like it would be fitting to do a post about love and romance.
I grew up with an amazing loving family, my parents are still married 30+ years later, and all the families on my dad’s side are the same. I was taught good values growing up despite not being raised in church and most importantly I saw a phenomenal relationship modeled by my parents on a daily basis. However my romantic life was full of disappointment and heartache for almost 15 years prior to me giving my life to Jesus Christ and making Him Lord of my life.
First off I apologize for the raw nature of some of what I have to share, especially to my future in-laws if they happen to read this! I have never claimed to be perfect and my past is very much stained by mistakes and horrible decisions, however I know that the blood of Christ has washed me clean, I have forgiven others, I have forgiven myself, and hopefully others have forgiven me too.
I never had a girlfriend or even kissed a girl until I was a freshman in college. I was an overweight, unconfident teenager and always longed for affection and love, as everyone does. I wanted validation and social proof that I was ‘worthy’ and the lack of receiving this caused me to go down some very dark and lonely paths. I got involved with the wrong crowd in high school and drugs and alcohol became an escape from my loneliness and an attempt to dull the pain of feelings of low self-worth.
I got involved in the network marketing industry at the age of 19 after spending the previous year turning away from partying and losing weight and getting healthy. My new body then combined with the new attitude I began to gain from attending personal development seminars and reading self-improvement type books really changed my confidence level and I began to get attention from the opposite sex. However all of my first relationships were extremely selfish and I pretty much enjoyed the attention and did whatever I could to foster feelings of love from my first girlfriends, even though I never saw them going anywhere, and then ended up breaking their hearts when I got bored and was ready to move on.
I ended up moving to LA in my early 20s and have spent about 8 of the last 10 years living in southern California. If you live in this part of the country you quickly get jaded about monogamous relationships and I began to feel they weren’t realistic and even that humans weren’t designed for such a thing. Divorce statistics in the world we live in only reinforce this belief. After having a child with an ex-girlfriend that I had a less than mature relationship with and going through relationship after relationship and horrible date after horrible date I had almost lost hope forever. Then I gave my life to Christ and EVERYTHING changed.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 1 Corinthians 5:17
I have come up with a list of 5 ways knowing Christ has Changed my Love Life Forever. I hope the information Christ has taught me over the last couple years blesses you as it has blessed me.
1. KNOWING CHRIST RE-CALIBRATED MY MORAL COMPASS:
Prior to my decision to follow Christ let’s just say my moral compass had no idea the direction of true north. Sleeping around was normal, viewing pornography was normal and as now ashamed as I am to say it trying to get a girl in bed as quickly as possible was always the goal. I would sleep with girls even if I didn’t love them or feel the relationship had a chance to go anywhere. Like many sad and lonely men today I thought the amount of ‘notches in my belt’ was directly related to my ‘manliness’ and the more women I had been with the more validated I was. I look back on those years of my life and realize how shallow, empty, meaningless and sad that lifestyle was.
At the time I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with viewing pornography, sleeping around or leading girls along to satisfy my selfish desires. Sexual urges were just something ‘natural’ and humans were just a higher rung of the animal kingdom right? All men just had the innate urge to ‘sow their wild oats’ in order to satisfy the biological need to re-produce…..and on and on. We are all familiar with these short-sighted ignorant rationalizations for our sexual lusts. Once I became filled with the Holy Spirit of the Living God, I began to love what He loves and hate what He hates. As it says in Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” It’s amazing what a little accountability will do.
2. RELYING ON THE WORD OF GOD GAVE ME POWER TO STAND AGAINST EVIL, SIN AND TEMPTATION:
After living in California for a few years, any and all of my notions of falling in love and getting married to have my happily ever after quickly got thrown out the window. Sex is in your face at every corner, and living immersed in a hook-up culture makes finding something meaningful much more challenging. It took being born again and knowing Christ to be able to fight against the worldly ideas of love being crammed down my throat at every turn!
In a society where abominations like 50 Shades of Grey are bestsellers and the movie versions are released on Valentines day, like we just experienced, God’s plan and design for love is being destroyed. Last year we experienced an extravagant gay and lesbian wedding ceremony on the Grammy’s on live TV! Domestic partnerships, same-sex marriages and exchanging vows that take the entire concept of marriage outside of the Christ centered context is everywhere. In fact standing up against the LGBT agenda makes us judgmental, closed-minded and ignorant. But the Word of God makes it very clear:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21
3. CHRIST GAVE ME THE TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S PURPOSE FOR MARRIAGE:
The world we live in today says that marriages are about happiness, however I believe they are really about holiness. With such a staggering divorce rate in the world today, it’s like people forgot the vows “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ’till death do us part” and replaced them with “until you annoy the heck out of me!” Most people today don’t even value marriage, and many marriage ceremonies are not even done in a Godly context. Any goofy friend can become an ordained minister and you can exchange self-written meaningless vows, go to a courthouse and be married. With an attitude like that, no wonder most marriages fail. People go into it without really thinking it through, without really understanding what marriage means and just think “if it doesn’t work out, we can just get divorced.”
I’ll never forget after my mother’s many promptings that “I just need to get me a good Texas girl” I went out with a girl in LA from Texas. On our second date she told me that she was divorced and if she married again, she would want to be able to agree with her new husband to each be able to sleep with 1-3 people a year outside of the marriage. Wow. I guess it’s proof you can be from anywhere and be hopeless without Christ in your life.
Wealthy friends and business associates made me fear that girls will only marry you for money. Donald Trump has an entire chapter in one of his books about getting a prenuptial agreement and how idiotic you are not to do so. “Marriages are just business relationships” Trump professes.
Marriages were designed to give us an opportunity to live as Christ lived and display his love in tribute and in worship to our creator. It’s about being SELFLESS, not SELFISH.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, – Ephesians 5:25
4. CHRIST PUT ME IN A POSITION TO LOVE OTHERS BY FIRST ALLOWING ME TO LOVE MYSELF:
We live in a broken creation and we all are broken people, with pains, scars, and open wounds from the past. We all have pasts that are ugly and full of pain and heartache, some more than others. However we all need unconditional love to heal our broken hearts, mend our tattered souls and allow our spirits to soar.
I saw a cute picture quote once that said “One day you will meet someone who will hug you so tight that all your broken pieces will stick back together.” Well Glory to God I did meet that person, and His name is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. It took God Himself, the Creator of the heavens and earth to mend my heart, and it makes sense, after all He is the one that created me in the first place. He knew exactly how to make all ‘my crooked places straight’ and is still continuing to do so day by day.
Christ taught me how to forgive others and how to forgive myself. He helped me realize that my true identity is not found in this world, by my financial success and accomplishments or by the approval and recognition I get from people but in Him and Him alone. This allowed me to love myself, and once the supernatural love of Jesus Christ came into my life, an amazing Godly woman came into my life and I have seen God’s love pour into me through her more every day than I ever knew possible.
5. CHRIST NOT ONLY TAUGHT ME HOW TO LOVE, BUT HE SHOWED ME WHAT LOVE REALLY IS:
I realize now that before I knew Jesus I had no idea what Love really was. Without knowing what true love really was how could I ever truly love another person? The birth of my son was a first step in God teaching me true love – a love without conditions. However coming face to face with this truth changed my understanding of love forever:
“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His ONLY begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” – John 3:16
We must love each other as God has loved us. True love will sacrifice anything to protect and to save the object of their affections. I heard Charlie Tremendous Jones say on a cd program that if his wife had an affair every single month it would break his heart and he would be very upset, but he would stick with her. He would forgive her and keep on loving her, because if God hadn’t given up on him, who he fails every day, he wasn’t gonna give up on her. To virtually any human being alive today that notion seems ‘insane’ and anyone who would continue to love a spouse that repeatedly walked all over them, cheated on them and breaks their heart would be just plain stupid. However that is how our benevolent God is treated by His bride every day.
One of the most amazing stories that illustrate God’s amazing love and how He orchestrates situations in our lives to show us more of His heart and who He is comes from the book of Hosea. God instructs his prophet Hosea to marry the harlot Gomer, she has wandering eyes and a lust for other men and riches and luxuries that her husband could not afford. Gomer then leaves Hosea for another man who rejects her and sells her as a slave when she refuses to obey, Hosea then buys her back at a very high price, and continues to love her, realizing that God had him marry her so He would know how God feels when His people are unfaithful to Him.
From the beginning of my relationship with my now fiancé, I told her that I will put my love of God and my relationship with Christ above my relationship with her, and I wish for her to do the same with me. Coming into a relationship with that foundation has kept us grounded and I know it will allow our relationship to flourish for years to come. When we understand the love God has for us, what that love means, and what that love requires, then and only then are we going to experience romantic love and deep personal relationships the way God intended.
I hope and pray that you first discover the love that God has for you as demonstrated through the suffering, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. I also hope and pray that once you receive that love and internalize it, the Holy Spirit will put it into action in your life and allow you to experience the freedom that comes from giving unconditional love to the people in your life that need it and deserve it, as you do.
May God Bless you always,
Jason Matthew Herrington
Elevate 2 Great page: www.facebook.com/e2gmovement