A Gut-Honest Look at Love

A Gut-Honest Look at Love

December 28, 2016

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

Today I’m feeling so challenged to look at love a little differently. Sometimes in the gut-honest quietness of my heart, I look at love through the eyes of what it will offer me.

I hold out the little cup of my heart to the people I love, “Will you fill my empty spaces? Today will you do that one really thoughtful thing and make me feel like I’m the most noticed and special woman in the world?”

Then I hold it out to my children, “Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you do something today that makes me look really good as a mom so I’ll feel a little more validated?”

Then I hold it out to my ministry, “Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you provide something today that makes me feel more significant?”

Maybe a Wednesday morning is an odd time to consider such things.

But as we get closer to a new year I think this Wednesday morning is the perfect time to hit the reset button on my sometimes frail heart. Love is a tricky thing. Our hearts were created to crave it. God proclaims that love is greater than hope and greater than faith.

Amazing.

God also proclaims that love never fails. And in the quietness of my heart that verse from 1 Corinthians 13 makes me squirm a bit. I see love failing all the time. Or do I?

If my only view of love is what it will give me, love from others will fail me every time. It’s not that love fails. It’s that other people were never meant to be my God. Even a wonderful family and a thriving ministry can never truly fill me up, right all my wrongs and soothe those deep insecurities.

No, I can’t read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 with eyes hungry to see what love should give me, and then demand it from those around me. I should read those steadfast Scriptures with the realization: This is the kind of love I can choose to give.

I can choose that my love will be patient. My love will be kind. My love won’t keep a record of wrongs. (Ouch — that’s a hard one, right?)

I can choose that my love will protect and persevere.

And I can choose to lay the cup of my heart at Jesus’ feet and stop twirling, twirling, twirling, hoping — no, demanding — that those around me do things for me they were never meant to do.

Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give.

Dear Lord, thank You so much for Your love. I know that because I am abundantly loved by You, I have an abundance of love to give. Help me today to live loved and to give love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:17b-18, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Are the words Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago really applicable to the answers our hearts are searching for today? Join us as we learn more about finding truth and hope in Christ in our free Online Bible Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s latest, Finding I AM: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. The study begins January 23, but you can sign up today.

Let your deepest desperation lead to your greatest revelation with the Reclaim Your Name 5-Day Challenge. Sign up now for free.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there anyone or anything you have been looking to other than God to fill your empty places? Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to help you start looking to Him and Him alone to fill your heart with love and security.

What is one specific way you can intentionally “give” love to someone else today?

© 2016 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. After almost 47 years of marriage, being taken for granted (goes both ways) kinda leaves your life in a ho-hum state. I think one way I can intentionally show him my love would be, outa the blue a hug and a kiss, just because I love him.

  2. AMEN!

    Love is all about giving: For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE . . . (John 3:16).

  3. Christianne McCall says:

    I look to my husband all the time and get frustrated when nothing happens. I understand God is my first God, but shouldn’t affection be a part of marriage?

    • Stephanie Slocum says:

      Yes, affection should be apart of marriage and my husband is not a very affectionate person either. I realized, after praying about it and laying those frustrations at the feet of Jesus, that I expected my husband to respond to me the way I respond to him, but he is not me, Praise the Lord for that. He responds with acts of service and I respond by running to the door to give him a hug and kiss when he gets home from work. I read Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and the first chapter talks about praying for yourself first. I realized I was becoming bitter because my husband wasn’t being who I wanted him to be. After I let go of that expectation I made it a point to be the affection I wanted to see in my marriage. We’ve been married 16 years and he’s coming around. After 3 kids, I’m usually making dinner when he gets home from work so I can’t run to the door like I used to but he now comes to me for a kiss. It can be heart breaking and the feeling of rejection is so hard to break through so when I started to feel those ways, I had to start looking at how he did show me he loved me. Praying for you and hoping this helps.

    • My husband is not very affectionate either. I do believe it should be. My pastor put it this way. What if he was paralyzed & couldn’t touch me? I didn’t like what he said at the time, but I did come to see. I’m putting to much pressure on my husband to meet my needs of affection. He didn’t learn it growing up, so I need to give him grace & shower him with it. I really needed this reminder. Life is not about me & I know God will bless me & fill me with love when I’m not focused on me. I still struggle & will continue to, but I will press on, rely on God & try new things. Jesus loves you, God loves you & so do I.

    • Give HIM that affection. Don’t wait for him to come to you, go to him. No where does it say that the man must make the first move.

  4. Thank you for this word today. We love because He first loved us. I want to be better at giving that love and not seeking it from others. Today, I can listen to those around me and affirm them.

  5. Being single and living alone, I don’t have that special someone to show it to me. So I guess I look to my close friends for love. Today I will be more intentional and see how I can show love to them and others.

  6. I’ve always thought I was a loving person, but this really convicted me. So many times I look to others to fill me up with love…..thinking subconsciously about only me. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  7. This devotion hits home. I have always expected the men in my life from my father to boyfriend’s to my ex husband to make me feel completely loved … the love that only God can give. A few years ago after another failed relationship brought me to my knees searching for answers God helped me to see the truth. I have never been happier. It is still easy to fall back into old habits and I appreciate this reminder today! Thank you

  8. I needed to read this. It helped me to look at love from a different view. I’ve always tried to get others to fill my cup, just like the examples that were given in the devotion. Even now through some of the heartache and shift that I’m experiencing, I’m having to love from a depth that I don’t think Ive encountered before. Thanks for the encouragement

  9. these words were what I needed today. Missing my son in Florida. Wishing we all could be within one hour of each other as a close family should be! That is my dream but God has a different plan. Amen.

  10. Wow, right on with this needed reminder and encouragement! Thank you for your ministry.

  11. Just what I needed this morning!
    My marriage is in a bad place and is leaving me exhausted in all aspects and not much left over for my children. Normally I’m fully devoted to them and never let then see my “wife issues” side, but lately it’s just too much to carry.
    Rejection, pain, and an unloving relationship weighs and scars.
    I turn to God for my strength, but I also need prayer sisters to stand in faith for a Divine miracle and happiness in my home.
    Please help me to continue giving love so His Love overcomes and repairs!

    • Lord, I pray for healing for Min and her husband relationship. I pray that Min will feel your love today and everday. I thank you that you will feel her love cup to overflowing. The pain that she feels right now will be covered by your blood that you shed for all our pain and that also when she feels like she has nothing more to give you will show her how to love the ones that hurt us the most. Please give her wisdom today and everyday how to walk this out. Bless her today more then she could ask or think.

    • Praying for you Min

    • Praying with you Min! I too am in the same way, and last night had the same thoughts that I am spending so much time on wife stuff that I need to set it down and let God and go back to life. We can let it consume us this marriage turmoil or we can look past and see God working it out before us. That’s what he wants is for us to trust him enough to live. I stand with you sister for our miracles to take place in our homes i also pray for us to find God right where he is to love us right through these times.

    • I am in the same place. My husband is a truck driver, is wanting out and in having an affair. The Lord told me to stand…and I am. The stand and the fight are exhausting and take alot out of me, and I don’t want my kids to suffer. They don’t know what is going on. But, I will pray with you too.

    • I know from first hand experience a loveless marriage is a lonely and painful place. Those who have not experienced it do not understand how it weighs and it scars. Sometimes God’s love just isn’t enough to lighten the burden, even though I know it should be.

    • You are in the right place for that strength and support– I was in your shoes two years ago and did not always seek The Lords avenues I would selfishly justify unhealthy avenues of destruction because I was so frustrated and lost. I would listen to my KLove as fuel and read every now and then but had no true partnership for accountability and encouragement for support. I will pray for you and you continue to stay around Godly women and people who seek the kingdom and can help with your marriage and the areas we all NEED to feel good. Keep praying for your husband and make sure your eating well and exercising-

    • Praying for you Min!?

  12. What I have struggled with over the years is when do you quit trying to love someone who doesn’t love you back, or someone who, if you are honest with yourself, is probably just using you? When do you say quit pouring yourself into something/someone and end a relationship?

    • Karla, I can relate to the serious situation you’re dealing with. I encourage you to seek help from a professional counselor, and/or a church group that offers a 12 step program. There is often addiction to the emotional pain and lack of identity in Christ as to who we are in Him, co-dependency, enabling, etc. My heart hurts for your pain and confusion. Prayers for you as you seek answers and direction.

    • Karla, Never ever give up on your children. As far as others go, when the relationship becomes an obsession, is very unfulfilling or painful, or you get that gut feeling or intuition something is very wrong, question it. I stayed in bad marriage way too long and the signs of his disinterest in me and his sons were very evident a long time. I initiated counseling but he pretended to care and did nothing but lie. I began to lose sense of self and energy and should have left years before we mutually decided to quit trying. He is even worse in divorce, so do get help if you can. I do notice relationships where both have faith in God seem to do better.

  13. June Brown says:

    Thank you for this sharing Gods view of LOVE. It opened my eyes open to the concept of what I can give not what I need from others. It is true, others will fail, but God’s Love NEVER fails. Thank you again for this devotion today. May God Bless you in this coming year.

  14. Shirley Stallworth says:

    Wow Lyza good word

    Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give.

    Thank you

  15. So, this was exactly where I was last year at this time. My husband and I were going through a divorce, had sold our house and moved into separate houses over Christmas break. January gave me lots of time to read and search my soul for where I was at spiritually, emotionally and physically. I had ever “right” to file for divorce and he did nothing to repent for his wrongs, that was a fact. I started looking at 1 Cor. 13 and honestly asked myself how I did at loving the way God intended us to love. I realized that I 100% carried my cup around expecting everyone else to fill it but did nothing on a regular basis to fill others cups. I did “stuff” but it was not consistent nor was it from the heart, I was list checking. I decided to change and love the way God intended. I got rid of my list of wrongs that I beat up my husband with and apologized to him. Today, almost a year later, we have the best marriage I could have ever imagined. God is first in our marriage. My husband’s walk with Christ has grown immensely over the last year and he has died to self and focuses on others. It is all so overwhelming to imagine what a powerful God we serve to see such change in two people in such a short time. Love like God intended, selflessly and with no expectations, no pride(I was very prideful) keep no record of wrongs (show grace, I was selective as to whom I showed grace). I gave up negative thoughts for Lent last year and that definitely helped me focus on loving others. This has impacted every relationship in my live. From friends to the cashier at the drive through, everyone can benefit from loving others the way God intended us to love! The more I showed love to my husband, the more he showed love to me. I was the catalyst to set the ball in motion, but then he picked it up and ran with it. We even “fight” differently. We have disagreements, but we treat each other with respect and we don’t yell; we talk it through and respect each other’s feelings. Thank you for writing this artical.

    • What a beautiful story of love and God’s power working in our lives! Thank you for sharing. I pray that others can use this example as well.

    • Great testimony!

    • I hope that I can have that testimony. That’s wonderful.

    • What a wonderful testimony. Thank you for sharing!! It gives me hope ♡♡♡

    • Amen!! All the glory is for our God,who can do unbelievable things.Thank you for sharing your story and the Lord may continues blessing you and your loved ones in many ways.

    • Thank you thank you for this testimony– we are one year from major issues and almost divorce but God is still here in hopes of a stronger marriage- thank you for your message

    • Wow – this is where I am Sarah (minus the divorce part). My husband and I have been married 36 years and I couldn’t feel further apart – emotionally. It often feels we are just roommates and not husband and wife. We’ve never learned to communicate well and are terrible at conflict resolution. I’m to the point that I don’t even share my heart (hurts) with him because it always seems that he points the finger back at me. I feel so lonely and rejected and hurt. But Lysa’s post made me realize that I do walk around with my cup waiting for everyone else to fill it. I’ve never considered myself to be a selfish person and have always had a servant heart but when you keep your feelings bottled up inside you lose that servant heart and become self-focused. I find myself today with very little joy and peace. I have prayed for God to show me and change me (I know change has to start with ME) and I believe this post and the comments were part of His answer to me. Thank you all for sharing and please say a prayer for me.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. You have blessed me.

  16. Thank you Lysa for speaking this truth so I can see it clearly. Thank you for so many times speaking to my heart so I understand better and see it from a different perspective. I ask God to help me love more, and to fill me up with his everlasting love so I can be a light and spill His love out to everyone.

  17. Thank you for speaking this truth to my heart today. The love of God is more powerful than any love we may experience or imagine possible with another person. His love never fails as He is the One who binds us together with Himself and others. Thanking Him for family and friends with heart full of gratitude as we look forward to 2017.

  18. For so long (16 years) I’ve been praying, hoping and yearning for this love from my husband. And all I’ve gotten in return are cruel words, demeaning name calling, gaslighting and a self-esteem that is now non existent. The sad part is, he said this scripture (1 Corinthians 13:7-8) was his favorite. While I never expected him to live this out perfectly, I still longed for him to try his hardest to live it out, as I had to. Yet the more I prayed for him to truly come to Christ and let His love change him into the man I hoped I had married, the clearer I saw who he really was; an abusive man. It has been 3 months since I have left him and my relationship with the Lord has only gotten stronger. I now realize that only HIS love can comfort, redeem and fill my heart.

    • I think it was very brave of you to make that decision to leave but I’m sure it was a hard one nevertheless. I pray that your new life will be a blessed one.

  19. Thanks so much for sharing this as I have been reflecting on this love passage since Christmas and feel it would be important to note that not only can others not fill this craving for love that Is meant for God, but we can not fill it in others either. Yes it should be our goal to give and love more like Him, but we too will always fall short. As a mom and wife I too will fall short and need to not get down when I fall short. Only Gods love is perfect and unfailing!

  20. Too often we look to others to “complete” us or “fill” us. The truth is this, only God can be given that task. I am made whole in Christ alone. “We love each other because he loved us first.” – 1 John 4:19 We are giving love to others out of what He has already given us, and perpetually gives us. God is love, love is God. It is generated from Him, not within me. My cup has to be full in order to overflow to others, and it can only be filled by God.

    • This hits so close to home today. Thank you for your insight. I have been helping a family who doesn’t know how to be in a relationship and my frustration at their secrets has led to my questioning the purpose in my helping them. You have helped me see that I am looking to them to fill me up and I need to look to God. Only then will I feel complete. Once again God’s provision shows me the way.

  21. We are here on this earth to love one another and to love thy neighbor as thyself. Eve was made for Adam and vice versa. I am tired of rationalization that makes us sound greedy when we need love or when we get upset over not getting it. Right there it says it all. If we love one another and treat our neighbors right, we should all be filled with love and content. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not know what love is and how to give it and in many cases, how to receive it. People are more focused on things, trips, sex, tv, and money. We all need love to flourish. This is why God made those commands. Perhaps schools should teach children and adults about love because many families do not get it or have it. Being raised to give love is not enough. By saying love one another God is saying you should be expecting the other to get it and give it back. We all deserve love. It is free, simple, and nourishing. We need it as much as we need food. Love starvation brings about mental illness, crime, sickness, and other problems. It makes doctors rich. It breaks marriages. We are all designated to give and receive love. Stop this foolish rationalization that we should accept being unloved. If one does not have it or get it returned after giving it, one must look to God and other solutions to teach it to the unloving, or move on to where they are appreciated and shown genuine love. I once heard a well known pastor say that we should not associate with people who are negative and bring us down. I was shocked because that is not about christianity or giving love. Even our leaders are misleading us. Frankly, I don’t see many in this world who truly know how to give love. It is frightening and appalling. People sure know how to take it though. Love one another. Stop love starving people so they are criticized for needing something that is critical to survival. We are not dogs and cats, we are people who are blessed by the Power of Love.

    • Deb I get what you’re saying–we are meant to both give and receive love, and we do need it and crave it and thrive with it… but I question your logic being Scriptural. Loving one another and treating people right does not produce contentment or love. Nothing other than the Holy Spirit (HS) indwelling causes any of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We cannot command any of these on our own. We first have to be in a right relationship with our Lord and then the HS indwells us and produces His fruit (not our fruit). Only then can we pour out God’s love back to him and to people around us. Yes it feels good to treat others well, but that isn’t a Christian’s motivation and we shouldn’t seek an emotional experience as our prime motivator (but, yes, often we have one). The HS comes first then we get contentment, love and joy, not vice versa. 1 John 4:19 makes it clear in stating that we are only able to love because God first loved us.
      Second, we do not deserve love. Scripture makes it clear we deserve hell and separation from God (Psalm 103:10 reads: he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities). We deserve eternal damnation because we are sinners, and only by grace are we saved and can partake in God’s love (see Romans 5:6-11). In Matthew 22:8 Christ says “the wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.” This is our very Savior saying we don’t deserve the goodness he affords us…
      By saying love one another, God means it with no expectation of return. Romans 5:10 says while we were God’s enemies, he died for us, fully knowing some would scorn his great gift. He had no expectation of us loving him in return. Christ himself tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). Luke 6 is the “do unto others” passage, which is a very good rule to live by, but the point of that passage (vv 27-36) is to treat others the way you want to be treated EVEN WHEN they repay you with evil: do good to those who hate you…pray for those who ill-treat you…do not withhold…do not demand it back…lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great…
      You speak of rationalization about accepting being unloved. I will point you to Matthew 10:22 where Jesus encourages us with this: You will be HATED by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Scripture tells us that we will be hated for the Word’s sake, and even still we should love these enemies despite this, our great example being Jesus’ death on the cross for an undeserving world.

      • Melanie, It appears you are more scripture oriented than I am. I am more oriented to my college major of psychology. I have done several bible studies but claim to be no expert. I am still learning. I know there are also different bible interpretations. I use the Life Application Study Bible. I think in some cases you may be reading too deeply into the basic message of love one another. I think God meant logically if I love you and you love me (providing we understand what love means)we should both be good to one another and content and kind. Same with love thy neighbor as thyself. Of course, the world is not perfect so not everyone is going to love one another or their neighbor. Not everyone cares about the bible. I know priests who do not know the bible abd Christians who do not love one another, as I know non Christians who do. This is also what has allowed wars to exist. I don’t believe God said we don’t deserve love. Didn’t he create man in his loving image and isn’t it why he sent his son so we would feel forgiven and loved? I truly believed he wants us to have love abundantly. Love is healthy and essential for survival. From a psychological standpoint and biblical. I don’ t get the feeling God wanted us to be martyrs in giving love. Love one another means give it back. Now if we don’t get it back, what happens? Read many of these blogs. Pain happens. Depression happens. Sure God wants us to call upon him for help when we are in need of strength and direction, but how happy he is when we love one another. I think in many cases with people today, expecting no return of love is sad but true. As I said before, people do not know how to love, are selfish today, and are great at taking it but not giving it back. Ultimately, we have to survive, and loving without expectations is survival sometimes. In these cases I would say be good to oneself. How many times I have given generously to charities and the next month they ask for more. Your comment about the wedding banquet and God saying nobody deserved to be there was a parallel of the king’s wedding where nobody followed tradition or respect for the king. “For many are called and few will be chosen”. Not everybody follows the rules, the Good word, etc. It is noble to love and expect no return. It is not logical nor humanly possible for most. I don’t think God expects miracles or that which is not healthy. He just tells us we will have enemies, disappointments, and even hatred come our way even over his name. Lastly, I am surprised that you state it is not a Christian motivation to treat others well? I thought Christians were to be the ultimate example of godly behavior, love, forgiveness, grace, and God’s word of love one another? Today I have seen more Christians involved in politics, and shun others for menial reasons. I am confused. I appreciate your response and we disagree on a few things. Again, I am no expert but I might think God wanted it to be simple. If yoy want to continue this discussion, please feel free to email me at dkbaub@aol.com. Best wishes

  22. “For they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Song lyrics I’ve always liked. Sadly, “love” is no longer the first word that comes to mind when most people think of Christians. I’m thankful to have met a few Christians whose lives were overflowing with God’s love. But it seems that those people are few and far in between. And I get that’s hard to constantly be living a life of love, it requires so much discipline and real intimacy with God. Love God and love your neighbor, the most important point of Christianity.

    • Well said. They will know we are Christians by our love.Sadly, there is not alot of love going around in this world today. Much is superficial. Much is talk. I see people give to charities in other countries to get noticed while a neighbor next door in need gets forgotten. Christians today get involved in politics where I thought they were not supposed to? Alot of confusion today.

  23. When we love ourselves we can rationalize why others are unable to give us love or how to survive without it from those we love so dearly and profoundly. It’s like you keep giving the gifts on every occasion and singing the happy songs but nobody gives back and you are left cold and lonely, even wondering what you did wrong. You did nothing wrong. Some of the unloved may over shop, over eat, over sex, over sleep, etc. Not being loved or knowing how to give and receive love is becoming an epidemic today and the world is suffering from it. Even the Christian leaders are becoming all talk and no action. It is wrong to tell people to not expect love or feel guilty because they are love starved. God loves us but we are here people because he wants us to share love with one another. We are not here to be martyrs of giving. We are here to give love and be loved!

  24. I want to love like Jesus..it is not easy when you been hurt so much. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible.Lord help all of us (believers) to love the unloveable.

  25. So happy to wake up and read this message today. After having a grumbling day with my people about what they didn’t do to fill my cup, this message spoke volumes to me. Thank you for once again opening my eyes to God’s truth and starting my day on the right path!

  26. I have a friend that is going through alot of things. I have truly tried to be a supportive friend. I have stayed on the phone with her up to four hours at a time. It got to the point that everytime she called or if I called to check on her,i needed to prepare that I would be on the phone for a while. That wasn’t ok with my husband and children. They became resentful. When I couldn’t be on the phone I could hear in her voice that she was not happy with me either. It seemed that when she felt a certain way it cancelled out anything supportive that was done to help her out. We even had a falling out at one point because she was upset that I hadnt reached out to her. It was because my family had some medical emergencies that was taking up my time. She apologized and I accepted. The last time I saw her was Thanksgiving. She had spent Christmas eve with me and my family for the last couple of years and so I let her know she was very welcomed to spend it with s. Her response was “I’ll let you know”. then no response after that. After Thanksgiving I was sick for 2 weeks and just focused on taking care of myself and my family. I didnt go to work for over a week, which I have never done in my life. In her mind I have neglected the friendship. In my mind I was just living my life and trying to get over an illness. She then starts posting all these comments about letting go of people and such. My family wants me to release this friendship because they feel she is a user. I also know she has been complaining about me to people who are friends of mine. I truly want to do what would be right before the Lord, but honestly I am tired of her unneceesary drama. I am not the only person she has treated this way. Others have cooled their friendship with her becaue she can be draining.

    • I had a friendship I had to end because she was very demanding. As I told my husband, she would “suck the life out of me”. She was not a bad person, but she was toxic to my life and my relationship with my husband. This friend of yours sounds the same way. I’m sure she’s not a bad person, but she sounds toxic to you and your family. So the best thing to do is let her go, love her from a distance, and continue to pray for her. Best of luck to you!

    • I am sorry your friend is complaining about you to others. You need to discuss this with her. She sure sounds like she is having some major problems and needs some major friendships right now. Why not let her go because she is too ugly? Why not let her go because she isn’t generous enough? Why not let her go because she’s too short? Abandoning a “friend” because they are having problems is not love nor being a friend. You have the capability to be honest with her and tell her kindly you care for her but you have only so much time to talk and have to tend to your family. I am astonished at how many family and friends abandon people because they are having a problem or they feel drained. It is YOUR problem, not hers. She is having a hard time. Is she there for you? Does she listen to you? Tell her you are available at certain times for a certain amount of time. You are in control. Life is full of problems and will always be. I would admire you if you decided to quit a friendship when she is well. Quitting when she needs you is very sad. I hope nobody does this to you one day.

  27. Oh how I needed to read this today. No matter how hard I try to allow God to fill those empty places, I still look to my husband and my daughters to fill them. The honest truth is that my heart is heavy this morning. I do so much to make Christmas special for everyone, I plan menus and try to fill the days with love and peace. But I still feel lonely even with a house full of people. Thank you for giving me a new perspective. Praying that I will allow God to fill those “God shaped” spaces that only He can fill.

  28. Wow, what a powerful message. I am actually moving out of my boyfriends house starting today and this hit home. I blamed my feelings on his lack of affection and his 2 sons not being part of our lives, but mayb they werent because I didnt pull them all close and try to love them enough. Guess its easier to blame others for our own faults.

    • It takes two for a successful relationship. It’s not about blaming ourselves either. Loving others does NOT guarantee they will love us back, even though we all deserve love. Your introspection might change the dynamics, it is worth a try rather than give up on yourself or others.

  29. What you give out comes back! Showing love to an unloving spouse or partner will change them, sometimes you are the one that needs to break the cycle. A husband doesnt need a winging demanding wife or the barrier will be put up as soon as he steps in the door. We both need to show love towards each other both of us had long day a ‘hey’ with a smile works and then a hug whether use to affection or not.. be the change!! Love is the highest vibration and motivator.
    Hope you all have a ‘Love’ly day! 🙂

  30. This devotion came at a perfect time for me. Thank you.

  31. Wonder-Full! Thank you, Lysa!

  32. Love never fails. God is love and he never fails. Love is not a feeling or emotion, it is ability and capability to pour myself out for others, deserving or not. Love is action (God loved the world so he gave). In the last 3 years my husband and I have been on a mission to discover this when we were at a crossroads in our marriage. We “loved” one another–but not the way it was intended in Scripture, until we looked at how God defined love. Love is never thrown around as a feeling or an attitude or an emotion. It is always, ALWAYS portrayed as self-sacrifice. Husbands love your wives–not by giving them pretty flowers and chocolates and jewelry or taking them out on a date…but by treating them as your very own flesh that you would guard with your life. Wives, love your husbands not by cooing and making yourself physically attractive for him, no. Submit out of respect. Children, don’t placate your parents then do whatever you want. Obey, that is how you show love. Parents, don’t spoil your children. Show them love by disciplining and showing them right from wrong. Do not turn a blind eye when a friend sins, but in grace and LOVE, tell them the truth about their error. Do not treat enemies with contempt, but bless them. These are all actual examples in Scripture. In our society, that’s just downright boring and old-fashioned. It’s “small-minded” and hate-speech, it’s hypocrisy. This world is upside down, but God will right it all. Because Love never fails.

  33. I guess I looked at this differently. I give everything to everyone. I work full time putting 200% into my job, deal with a husband with PTSD and alcoholism and give him as much of me as I can, take care of the needs of 3 kids, friends that need me, by the time this time of year comes around I am spent, exhausted. I guess I don’t know what love is because I give myself to everyone and there is nothing left of me to give. I don’t receive much love back. My husband doesn’t believe in God, the kids just take and take, my parents and family just take and take.. I guess I have never in 30+years felt God’s love renewing me…

    • I’m praying for you Traci. I think what Lysa said in today’s devotion is dead-on for your situation. You don’t feel loved by your family even though you are giving all you have – so you turn to God to fill that need. Ask Him to give you strength and guidance for your situation, even if you doubt His love for you. Ask Him to show you His love.. I would also suggest you intentionally schedule a regular time for yourself with friends or just time alone and away from the family – time to recharge and rejuvenate.

  34. what a great post this morning, thank you Lysa! Christmas is actually a time of year that I dread, because my kids expect “gifts'” but they don’t give gifts in return. But this year the new Christmas song on the radio with the lyrics “Give Christmas away” by Amy Grant made me determined to not focus on not getting anything but to truly focus on what I was giving. I a physical gift, emotional gift and spiritual gift to each person. This year I attached scripture to the presents, especially for those who don’t read scripture or have a relationship with Christ. I have been shamed for doing anything relating to Christ in the past by my son-in-law, but still, I will continue to represent Christ at Christmas. And I prayed that Satan would be far away when negative thoughts entered my mind regarding “others” this Christmas and God saw me through. Now the challenge, is to represent Christ this was all through the year. To not take offense at others words or actions, to live from a position of love and to pass that on to everyone I come in contact with for it is by God’s grace that I know the truth of his love and redemption. Happy New Year all!

  35. Artia Thomas says:

    This was on time and well worded. Thank you for being a vessel

  36. What happens when someone you thought loved you is so wrapped up in himself that he is incapable of loving his wife and child (and in reality – himself). Or the fake person who, when you were so desperate for affection, said he loved you but then broke your heart not once but twice?

    • Patty,
      People are not perfect. It is painful to have others we love reject us or abandon us but it happens all the time because they have their own problems, issues, and needs to figure out. You can be supportive to this person and encourage them to get some help while still showing them love, and while continuing to love yourself and be good to yourself, or you can make another choice that will have its own consequences for all. I think as far as the fake person goes, the basic idea is that love is not always easy, it can be complicated. We need to really understand what love really is and how to determine when it is NOT love. Being desperate for attention can bring on many fakes. Proceed with caution.

      • Thank you Deb. I chose to divorce my husband as there was no good outcome regarding myself and our child as there is an addiction issue in addition to the other issues. Even though we are divorced, I do still care about him an am as supportive as I can be without loosing myself. I was stunned by the actions of the fake person and am more mad at myself for allowing him so close. I pray daily that God show me the way to forgive both of them and me. I’m lucky that I have God, my siblings, my friends and my son to keep me grounded. I appreciate your input!

  37. Lysa,
    One of the BEST devotions of the year!
    If our hearts are CREAVE TO LOVE, and is GIVEN to us MORE ABUNDANTLY then hope or faith, and HE ASK US to “Love one another as we were loved….then shared again YOU MUST(not an options) love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” …then it should be our desire to do this daily in 2017 and forever!
    THANK-YOU for challenging us to run the race well for Him!

  38. Wow, this was deep I never thought of Love being seen that way. I was thought of it the opposite way, and Your right. Sometimes we look for love through people in how they could fill us but we should be giving that Love to people not recieveing for our selves because God to us to love and if we follow his commandments his love would be sufficient for us. In our all the right places that were neededing not that we don’t need love but our love should come form him, and not people.

  39. Thank you so much for that today. It touched my heart, and reminded me of God’s first commandmant.

  40. Sometimes to fill my empty spaces I look to finding what will make me successful or happy for the time being. As Christians, or even as people there comes time in our lives where we think if we have ‘this specific thing’ or live in ‘this perfect house’ with these ‘amazing job’, then we will be happy. Like Lisa mentioned before, if we are viewing what love with give us, those ‘anythings’ and ‘anyones’ will fail us ever time!

    One specific way I can intentionally “give” love to someone else today is investing time into them! Showing that I care

  41. Ok Lysa, there you go again. Peeping. . . . On Christmas Day, ALL six of my father’s children showed up at my house. We include three ministers, we’re all between 58 and 70 now, and we still know how to clown it up. Before my brothers arrived my sister and I were talking and I shared that, I get tired at times of always giving, doing, calling, reminding. Everything for everyone else. Yet reciprocation is practically non-existent. Many times I have asked God to take that thought from me, and He responds with: “Don’t grow weary in well doing [Daughter], for in due season you shall reap . . . . ” That’s what your message is confirming for me today. We had a ball celebrating Jesus’ birthday! But when it comes to not judging one another, forgiving and letting go of grudges, some of us still have work to do. So, how about when they asked me to pray , I included your first “Truth for Today” scripture, John 13:34-35, encouraging my family to love each other more. Not just as our Earthly father charged us to do when we were kids, but as our Savior in Heaven asks. More to the point of the Reason for the Season, huh? Fast forward to this morning. There I am in the bathroom putting on make-up, listening to Stevie Wonder on my cell phone, “A Ribbon In The Sky (for our Love).” Separated in 2012, divorced almost two years, the hurt has eased substantially thanks to the love of my Father. He who knows my deepest longing, who created me with a give, romantic heart. I’m dabbing and swaying, imagining this as the song for the first dance with my new husband – at 63 years old. Hey, it could happen! Then I come to work and see your name and go. “Yaaay! It’s Lysa! And what do you say? ” Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give.” Thank you, and Amen. I tell you, I’m getting more and more comfortable you are hiding behind my bathroom mirror. Much luv,

  42. I can’t even find the words to express how timely this is for me. Thank you for this blog and your encouragement!

  43. Diane Miller says:

    sometimes I look for my friends to fill all those empty spaces, when I should be spending more time with God. It is good to spend time with friends and to share with them your thoughts and feelings. The best gift you can give is your time. God deserves your time as well each and every day.
    Is there anyone or anything you have been looking to other than God to fill your empty places? Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to help you start looking to Him and Him alone to fill your heart with love and security.

    What is one specific way you can intentionally “give” love to someone else today?
    Letting them know you are here for them.

  44. I am currently going through a trench in my marriage. My husband is a truck driver, gone 3 weeks out of the month. He is has emotionally and mentally left our marriage and is having an affair. One week before I found out, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart of all the ways I failed as a wife to him. He and I were both saved 5 years ago, but he has left the church again, which makes me question whether he was ever saved to begin with. He leads our sons (11 and 5) with scripture when asked to. God has put amazing people in my life to walk through this with me, and around the same time that we separated (he still comes to our home, and mostly acts like we are together..he refers to our home, our bed, our room…called me baby three times over Christmas..but no affection, intimacy or I love yous anymore.), a class at our church started called “The Marriage Project”, which I immediately started attending because I felt the Lord telling me to stand for my marriage. During one of the many times I cried on the way home from work, I begged God for a sign of whether this was going to work, if He was going to restore us…and I suddenly had Isaiah pop into my head. When I could stop, I opened my Bible app and went to Isaiah but had no idea what verse to look at so I randomly chose 4. The title of Chapter 4 in the NLT translation is “A Promise of Restoration”. I have picked up marriage books and the Love and Respect book. The things I learned are amazing…and when he comes home, I act them out. I love him, respect him, serve him and don’t expect anything in return. I asked him this last time he was home if he’d consider going to the retreat their doing in February and he said he’d think about it. I also asked him if he would consider meeting my mentor and her husband, to which he said he’d think about. I asked him how much of a chance we had of working things out and he never answered. Before he left, I asked him if he’d do a devotional with me and he agreed. Well, yesterday, I did something he didn’t like…and now he isn’t talking to me. I won’t lie, the fear I have of him closing the door is immense, but I am trying so hard to cling to the Truth that God is with me. He knew that I was going to do what he didn’t like, and I still got Isaiah 4. So…with that said, I know that the love I really need comes from God alone. But I ask for prayer, for my husband’s heart to soften to the Lord again and toward me. Thank you.

    • I am praying for you Amy. My husband and I were divorced almost two years ago but he left me emotionally about 8 years before that, so I know exactly how you feel. It didn’t work out for me, but it can absolutely work out for you and that’s what I’m praying.

  45. “LOVE” ….is one of the most misunderstood and abused actions, we as humans do. I love how God puts “agape” love in the bible. The epitome of what we should try to strive to be more Christ like in our love for others. As the years have progressed and life has changed so drastically, I’ve come to the conclusion real love isn’t a “feeling”. Its actually a CHOICE.

    4 Love is patient
    (even when we stand behind someone with more than 20 items in line and our last nerve is being stepped on)
    love is kind. (when when someone is cruel to us or betrays us)
    It does not envy (Jealousy ??…i think we all can relate to this…if we are honest with ourselves….that New Car or nicer house? down the street?)
    it does not boast, ( How about bragging so we sound more important than we really are)
    it is not proud. (Look at me…look at me….compared to YOU…i’m more educated, prettier richer?)
    5 It does not dishonor others, (Gossip and Bashing others to make ourselves sound better)
    it is not self-seeking, (If i do that for you, What is in it for me?…money money money??)
    it is not easily angered, (Or irritated by disruptions)
    it keeps no record of wrongs. (Keeping score of each infraction…and never forgetting….”Revenge?” anyone)
    6 Love does not delight in evil (finds joyfulness in another’s pain…an enemy?)
    but rejoices with the truth. (And the truth shall set you free)
    7 It always protects, (Guarding the helpless and young and very old)
    always trusts, (Learning to trust again…in spite of pain)
    always hopes, (God will provide a way when there seems to be none)
    always perseveres.(Never gives up….pressing forward to the reward…and finishing the race no matter what)
    8 Love never fails. (When tested?….you will endure)

    Just thought …i would share some thoughts!!!!

  46. Jacqueline Strand says:

    Thank you for this – it spoke to me this morning.

    Love your ministry– ❤❤

  47. I needed this today, thank you.

  48. Husband is able to provide support, encouragement and kindness to others, but all I receive is rejection, criticism, embarrassment and subjected to witnessing him uplifting others… I believe God & Jesus love me and wants me to have a joyful Christian life and that maybe I just married someone that doesn’t know how to love me. My prayer is no longer help strengthen my marriage, it is do I continue to stay in this toxic 25 year relationship.

    • I am praying for you Angela. My husband and I were divorced almost two years ago but he left me emotionally about 8 years before that, so I know exactly how you feel. I wondered for a long time whether we should split up because he made it clear he did not want to go to counseling, but we have two children and, even though they are grown, I knew it would be hard on them (one was still living at home and the other was in the process of moving back in). I was spared that decision because he left (suddenly and without notice – on Valentine’s Day). I would never advocate divorce, but I have to be honest with you that, even though I was sad for myself and my daughters, I no longer felt oppressed by his emotional distance and my constant attempts to be positive and uplifting. Yours is not an easy decision to make and I pray the Lord will guide you.

    • I too was in a toxic marriage and I prayed and asked God can I divorce my husband. His reply was yes, but I will not send you another man who loves you as much as he does. I figured this is crazy. So I stayed. I began reading the bible and being led to scriptures to fulfill my heart. I read the power of a praying wife and was instantly renewed. God did not give us a husband to fulfill our needs. We want to put our husbands on a pedistal and expect them to be everything for us. Not going to happen. Man is man. The role of God is to fulfill us. Once I replaced God with my husband life became better. Wasn’t perfect, but I so enjoyed my life after that. In 1998 we separated, and today we are best friends, co-directors for the youth at our church. And enjoy one another’s company more than anything else. Talk to God before making decisions and listen to what He has to say.

  49. Thank you for this post, Lysa. Only God’s love can truly fill our empty spaces.

  50. Angela, I am experiencing a similar situation although my husband of 36+ years is a non-believer. And, I am getting the same “rejection, criticism, embarrassment ” along with a lot of negativity about my faith and desire to read God’s word daily. But, I don’t want to be a quitter and I believe He wants me to stay and be an example. God bless you as you struggle. Remember, God loves you!

  51. I have to thank God for sending this message through you today, Lysa. It touched me deeply and was something I needed to hear. I spent some time reading all of the comments, and I’m amazed and saddened that there are so many that are feeling the same way I am right now. I’ll be lifting us all up in prayer collectively.

  52. God just loved me enough to discipline me through this devo today. May these thoughts and this lesson never leave me. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable and truthful no matter.

  53. Wow how your devotional on love and 1 Corinthians 13, really hits home. I have been so demanding in telling my husband, just this week, what is lacking in our marriage from him to me. I have been expecting from my grown children what I think they should do, should respond to questions, should call and/respond to a text when, in reality, I need to focus on Jesus, His unconditional love for me, His grace and then, in turn, extend grace to others, love others – yes, husband, too (ouch) – as Jesus loves me, without a condition attached and with no expectation of return. Help me, Sweet Jesus – with You I can and will do as You want me to.

  54. I am so thankful for Proverbs 31 ministries.

  55. OUCH

  56. ” It’s that other people were never meant to be my God” this sentence quickened my thoughts “now I let go”
    being disappointed by my first fiance, many years later, by my (now ex) husband I’ve often wondered why I could not have had a mate capable of consistent long term love. We all are human, tempted by satan & fail. I trust HIM.

  57. Wow Lysa, you hit the nail on the head for me with this article! So often I enter my days looking for love just like you said; holding the little cup of my heart out to my husband,to my kids,to anyone I come in contact with that day.I say to myself, just as you said;”who will make me feel special today?” Who will fill up my cup for me?” When I have this attitude I usually am sorely disappointed and often hurt because, as we know, we weren’t supposed to look for people for our significance or love. I can’t believe how often I still do this though. What a disaster it is.I feel like I have a bottomless pit in me with my need for love. It never seems to get filled.
    Thanks again for the reminder that it is to God and God alone that I am to look for my significance and seek to give that love away to others.

    Your writing and your ministry continues to bless my socks off. Thank you ssooo much!!

  58. I was thinking on this very thing today. Love is not selfish. Genuine love gives without any expectation and does not cease to love when nothing is given in return.

  59. We appear to be on the same page today Lisa… I am ever so thankful that God provides indisputable confirmation and validation of what He whispers to my heart, through the teaching of those that share this Path to Eternity.

  60. I love that lysa… when we give love that’s when we can rest assured that love never fails. Pure, sacrificial, imperfect love motivated by Jesus… He won’t let it fail. Sweet!

  61. Thank you!

  62. this is a good reflection. god is the only one who can fill in the empty spaces because his love is limitless unlike humans they fail us every time. God’s love never fails.

  63. Father,

    Thank you for this devotional. I pray you will
    Fill our hearts with your kind of agape love for
    Those around us. I pray you will break us of the kind of love/obedience just bc we want a cookie in the end–the ring, the marriage, the child, the job, the prestige, the (fill in the blank with anything we think will fill our voids). Today I was reminded about my short comings in my past by my sister, she was not inaccurate about my mistakes but boy that hurt, and in those seasons of my past I would practice “love” and obedience to get the cookie at the end of it…. Almost a sort of bargaining exchange with God…I did this and kept your word so I expected certain things in my life to happen–like a marriage in my twenties, children, family…. When those things didn’t pan out, boy did I crumble in so many ways. God, I hope you can forgive me for those seasons of life, and help any others struggling in that area of life. You have blessed me so much God, with new blessings and responsibilities and opportunities to love people who have wounded me deeply. I have failed so many times at opportunities you have given me, let me not stop short when I fall in this endeavor, as I imagine I will, please let me fail forward. Let me cling to your kind of love, with no hope of a cookie at the end, and just thank you for each day, each breath, each loving heart in my life, and each chance to embrace others and be used for your purpose in obedience, in lightening the loads of others, in being a light in a dark world bc of you.

  64. Lori, That is a wonderful pledge and devotion. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. You sound like a good person with a good conscience. I wish you were my neighbor. People who have wounded you deeply should be asking you for forgiveness. It is very godly of you to try to love them in spite of the hurts, maybe one step at a time through your forgiveness of them. The things you have wanted, a good family, happiness, children, are nothing to be guilty about. In fact, God wants us to have them and to be happy. I am sure you deserve them. Coping with things we can’t have is human and hard sometimes. Punishing others for something we can’t have is the sin. This is where God’s love comes in through prayer and from love of others to bring us peace and grace. God wants you to be happy. God wants you to have love. You are a wonderful person to strive to put others first. You will certainly bless others and please God. I pray you will be an inspiring example to others and help change the world. I pray the love comes back to you.

  65. This is my favorite chapter in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13 speaks to my heart, but today, Lysa’s words hit me and made me realize how I look to others to fill my cup as well. I’ve been in and out of a relationship with a man who says he can’t be a father figure to my 2 young boys, yet he is anyway. He watches over them, teaches them things, teaches them to respect others (as do I) but especially me, their mother, and other women. He does things for me that speak of his love for me, though he hasn’t said the words in a very long time. My prayer to God is always for guidance and to know if this man is someone I’m supposed to spend my life with. Every time I walk away, or put distance between us, this man reaches out to me, not in a needy way, but because he wants to be near us. I have empty places in my heart. My children are 1/2 way across the country spending Christmas with their father and I’m lonely. It’s in these times I look to others to fill those empty places, as well as when I’m feeling unloved or unwanted by the man in my life. I realize I need to look to God to fill those empty places and to GIVE love as God gives to us. That’s not always easy, especially when saying those 3 little words is one of the ways I let others know I care. But moving forward, I am going to do my best to remind myself that no matter what happens, or how I feel, I can still show others love. I believe, in time, God will reveal His plan for me and my children and it will be more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Until then, I will GIVE love to those around me and look to God to fill my empty places.

  66. My heart is soo heavy lately. I’m struggling so with feeling rejected and of no value as a Mom/Grandma with an adult child and family. I have a relationship with Jesus and so many times have brought this matter to his feet. I read God’s Word and believe it with all my being but my heart is hurting. My child’s family spends a lot of time with the “other” grandparents and siblings. Through out the holidays, I have attended functions for the grandkids where the “other” grandparents/family is also attending. My grandkids hang on to the other relatives and hardly notice my presence. It is so hard for me to put a smile on my face and interact with all of them when my insides are hurting and my heart is so sad. Why don’t they enjoy being by me? They don’t have a desire to come to my house. I’m not rich, and always doing something exciting. Thanks for listening. It’s impossible to relate all the details of our relationship/non relationship. I believe Jesus loves me and want to live my life for Him.

  67. Thanks so much for this timely reminder that only God can/will fill the emptiness of our heart/soul. Awhile back, you used this passage which was a HUGE reminder to me when I’m upset, especially with my husband. His heart is tender towards me but we communicate so differently; I’m reminded love is…and run through the list of what it is and what it doesn’t do. Far too often, something I’m upset about is because of MY attitude. Appreciate you pointing us back to I Cor. 13

  68. Kim Timmons says:

    Thank for this hard hitting, truthful, & much needed new perspective Lesa. I pray I can act on it now…..my heart is so hard & needs to be softened. Thank you for all you & the ladies do at P31.

  69. This is the second time I’ve read this post. The mention of empty spaces seems to have touched a spot I’d rather it had not and to be honest I’m not quite sure why the spot is so tender.
    Thank you to you all the P31 devotionals are so on point for me.

  70. God bless you, Lysa. Thank you for this!

  71. All I can say is Wow. Very thought provoking and self enlightening. Thank you and God bless you for this.

  72. when it says Love Never Fails it is referring to God as he is Love and he never fails

  73. Lynn mccarthy says:

    When We realize that God has already filled that cup to the top with abundant love, we will no longer need to look in all the wrong places for earthly “love”.

  74. Sharon Schilawski says:

    I REALLY needed to hear this, thank you! I enjoy your devotions so much, such a practical way to apply God’s word to my daily living.

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