“I love you.” Growing up, I longed to hear these words. I heard the phrase thrown around a lot on television, and read it often in books, but I never heard it for myself.
It made me not really understand love.
Was I loved? Was I capable of giving love?
These unresolved questions left me with a deep longing in my heart to search for love.
In response to this desire, I expressed my emotions often in hopes that others would reciprocate and I would get to hear those long-awaited words… but it never happened.
Did you always feel, and know, that you were loved? What did that look like for you? How did it shape the way you reacted?
I desperately wanted to find love and figure out what love was. In my attempts to do so on my own, my heart was repeatedly hurt; in response, I had given up on the idea that I could find love—and that I was loved—until I accepted Jesus into my heart.
1 John 3:16 (NIV) tells us “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
When I welcomed Jesus into my heart, I received a deep realization that love existed because he performed an unexplainable, unfathomable act on the cross for me.
I didn’t deserve his mercy in any way; nor did I do anything for him. He simply and freely wanted to show me that I was always loved and that the desire to be loved was filled by him.
He didn’t want me to search elsewhere; he was the answer and always will be. He longed for me to know that he loved me right from the beginning.
I was loved, and he chose not only to tell me that, but also to show me.
By the releasing of his blood on the cross I was able to forgo all the pain I experienced in my search for love and take upon the joy that I was loved for eternity by a God whose love has no bounds or limitations to prevail.
His great sacrifice shows us that he truly cares for us with a love that is sacrificial and unconditional—beyond our wildest desires. A love that no one else could ever give.
We don’t have to earn his love or strive to receive it. It’s freely and genuinely given to us to demonstrate how love should be shown to others.
The depths and lengths of what Jesus did on the cross for us, to show us his love, are irrefutable. This love is unachievable by man. It’s a love that no one could ever give us, and yet that is the love we all desire to receive from others.
If you don’t receive it from Jesus and look elsewhere, getting hurt is inevitable. When we receive this love from him, though, then we can in turn—with great gratitude and admiration, in reverence to him—lay down our lives for others so that they don’t experience hurt in their hearts from our love to them.
Laying down your life in this manner is in response to Jesus’ love and shows them his love—which is the love they need. It’s a love they ultimately desire and want. We can lay down our lives for others, as he did for us, when we are aware that our love comes from him and that we are deeply loved by him.
I no longer have a heart that desperately desires to hear the words “I love you” anymore, as I know it now every day when I focus on the great sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross.
You can too. You don’t have to question whether or not you are loved. Jesus loves you, and he wants to tell you—as well as show you—every day. The question is: will you let him?
Ask Jesus to show you today. His death on the cross is the assurance that you are always loved.
How are you recognizing that Jesus loves you today? How in response are you loving others?