The greatest need humans have is to love and be loved. All of my life, I’ve wrestled with that need.
As a child, I grew up in a stable home environment and for the most part, I was happy. But I never felt I measured up or merited my dad’s love and approval. My dad was strict, and had high expectations of his children. I’d drive myself to be as perfect as I could be, to get A’s in school, to be obedient, even to the point that my other siblings labeled me the “goody two-shoes” of our family. My dad wanted an orderly home and family life. I don’t doubt now that he did love me, but I didn’t always feel loved in that relationship.
In high school, I fell in love with a guy named Mike. I convinced my family to attend his church, I worked in student government with him, I missed him the summer he went to Switzerland on a student exchange. We even ended up going to the same university. I so desperately wanted him to feel the same love for me, but while we were friends, he was also interested in dating others. I did a lot of crying over this guy. The good news is that I did eventually marry him.
Finally, I had my dream-come-true in marriage…right?? The first two years, I realized that Mike didn’t just want to sit home with me and spend quality time together. He was a very active, people-oriented guy, who either wanted to go out and socialize or else bring lots of people into our home. I, on the other hand, wanted to spend time just with Mike, to know he loved me. I wanted quiet, romantic evenings together—he wanted to party!! I wanted him to put me first, to give me all the love I needed, but he didn’t seem able to do that.
After two years, our son was born, followed by three daughters. I poured my love into our children. I had always loved kids. But these children were a handful 24 hours a day! I tried to be a supermom, but I was disillusioned with motherhood.
All I ever wanted was to love my dad, my husband and my children and have them return that love. They gave me what love they had but it just wasn’t enough. None of them could meet my need for unconditional love.
Not that I was the greatest source of unconditional love, myself! I had a hard time loving my dad when I didn’t agree with him. And when my husband didn’t spend as much time with me as I wished he would, did I still love him unconditionally? No, I was too centered on my own needs. I still get angry at the kids when they mess up the house or don’t do the dishes.
I would like to encourage you with the fact that my relationship with my dad has improved, I’m thoroughly in love with my husband and I’m excited about being a mom. How is this possible? I believe the answer goes back to when I was 12 years old.
I have always believed in God and when I realized He loved me just as I am, I knew I needed that kind of love.
I also knew there was sin in my life. Sin was what wrecked my relationships with others because I was self-centered and I knew it. I wanted to be perfect as a child, but I wasn’t able to do it. I needed a way to deal with my self-centeredness, to forgive others for their selfishness and get on with my life.
But what was I to do with this sin I wanted to get rid of? I learned that I need to confess it to God and He’d forgive me and cleanse me inside, based on Jesus’ death on the cross. No one else volunteered to give His life so that my sins could be forgiven, except Jesus. This was the freedom I was looking for!
It was my choice. I could accept Jesus as my Savior from sin or I could continue to try doing it on my own. At 12 years old, it was an offer too good to turn down. And 29 years later, I still feel the same way.
I still want love from my dad, husband and kids. But I’m not dependent on them for the unconditional love I need. Only God can give me that kind of love. And knowing God, the source of real love, frees me to love others.
What about you? Do you feel you are getting all the love you want or need out of your relationships? Do you, like me desire to experience unconditional love? You can! Simply express your desire to God through prayer. God knows your heart so it doesn’t matter which words you use, but here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of woman you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.
Written by Karen Woodard