How many of you ever struggle with the idea that you are lovable?
Personally, it has been a big struggle in my life.
What I’ve found is that in my life this struggle often left me “chasing love”---doing all I could to pursue it, to earn it, to have my need for love and approval met.
Yet, no matter how hard I “chased” it seemed like I always came up empty, which left me feeling unlovable again.
I can look back and see that this was a pattern throughout my life---starting at a very young age in my relationship with my Dad.
You see, my Dad came into marriage and fatherhood with A LOT of emotional, mental, and spiritual baggage. I’m not talking about a little carry on bag full of pain, I’m talking about a tractor trailer full of issues that needed to be addressed.
Because of these issues, he was not able to love people in a healthy way.
Instead, he kept his walls up very high and kept even his family at arms length.
To hide his issues he told us and gave the appearance that he was perfect, his life had been perfect, his family was perfect, and he had it all together. If there were any issues in any relationships or really any issues at all, they were our fault.
Hence, his inability to show love was our fault---we were unlovable.
His lack of approval and his overly critical nature were for our good---to show us our weaknesses and help us be better people.
Eventually his problems became my problems as I learned from his behavior to chase love, to do all I could to gain his approval, to twist my personality to be more lovable, to try and try and try to be loved and then blame myself in the end when love wasn’t received.
Even though my Mom did all she could to show my brother and I unconditional love and support, the fact was that she, too, was caught in this trap of trying to earn her husband’s love and often feeling that she was unlovable. So even though I received unconditional love from my Mom, it wasn’t enough to help me avoid the trap of feeling the need to chase love.
As I got older, this carried into other areas of my life. Looking back I can see that I didn’t really “fall in love” in high school or college, but rather, whenever I was interested in a gentleman, I fell back into this pattern of “chasing love” by proving that I was good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, worthy of him loving me.
Whether the relationship failed, I saw it as rejection and failure---proof that again I wasn’t good enough.
When I graduated from college without being married, I truly felt like a failure because I hadn’t convinced anyone that I was worth loving.
But even beyond male/female relationships, this feeling of “chasing love” extended to other areas of life.
Over and over again, I found myself placing people in authority or people with influence in the place of my Dad and doing all that I could to “earn” or “chase” their approval.
Even when they did approve, it was never enough---it had to be consistent and overflowing. Whenever they didn’t go out of their way to gush approval onto me, I felt rejected or like they disapproved or disliked me.
Of course, these feeling extended into my relationship with God. Even though I knew the Bible said God is love---I felt like this love had to be “chased” or “earned”. Like I was always on a tightrope trying to be “good enough”.
Along the way I was wearing myself completely to a frazzle as I was trying to have the deepest needs in my heart met. I was running and running and running yet always coming up empty.
Eventually, I wore myself out.
It was at that point of being worn out that God was able to step in and intervene and begin a healing process in my heart and life so that I could stop “chasing love” and accepting His love.
How did this happen?
Well, the first thing that the Holy Spirit had to do was help me face the issues of my past.
This meant that He had to show me the root of my problem was my relationship with my Dad.
I’ll honestly never forget the day that I was riding home in the car after church and the Holy Spirit started gently applying His scalpel to my heart and showing me two things:
First, He made me admit that I had a bad relationship with my Dad. That I felt unloved and that I couldn’t do anything good enough to please him.
Then, and believe it or not this was the harder part, He began showing me that my terrible relationship with my Dad was not my fault. It was the result of my Dad’s issues in his own life, his own distrust, his own pain and fear and problems with women.
This drive in the car was the beginning of many “healing sessions” with the Holy Spirit as He began showing me that there really was nothing I could have ever done to earn my Dad’s love or approval. Even the smartest, prettiest, most demure, quietest, most well behaved daughter on the planet would have received the same treatment from my Dad because he was simply incapable of giving more.
Over the next few years, my Dad’s cover was blown, all of his secrets came pouring out and it became very obvious that my Dad had issues that caused his behavior.
But the truth is that this knowledge alone did not fill the void inside of me or help me feel the need to stop “chasing” love.
That only came as I committed to spending time with my Heavenly Father on a consistent basis so that He could heal my heart, and show me my true identity, purpose, and value in Him.
It was only through spending time in prayer and reading the Bible that I was able to begin to truly understand some things about true love---love that is not earned, love that doesn’t have to be chased, love that doesn’t reject or abandon or withhold itself as a means of manipulation or control.
I’ll be honest and admit that this did not happen overnight---it was a process.
However, it was a process worth committing to because as I spent time in prayer and in God’s Word, I learned some truths about God’s love that radically changed my life.
These are the truths that helped me stop "chasing love" and start receiving it.
Perhaps today your struggling with the need to “chase love”. Maybe you’ve already accepted Jesus as your Savior, but you know that there are barriers in your life keeping you from completely relating to God’s true love.
Trust me when I say that I totally understand that. Today I want to pray with you.
The truth is that you were not created to “chase love”; you were created to receive it---from your Heavenly Father. As you learn to accept His love and let His love completely fill the voids in your life, you will understand that you truly are lovable.
As you see your true identity, value, and worth, you will overcome the need to chase love and start truly loving yourself.