A Quest for Love


I sought after love so long, I hadn’t realized it already existed within. 

It was the same love I was looking for in men who barely knew what love was. 
I was coaching myself through relationships that had no business manifesting. Holding onto text messages and photos as the only proof of affection I'd receive. At my young age, that was enough. But the older I got, the more I realized the love I was settling for wasn't the love I deserved. 

I matured enough to recognize that I would never receive true love, without first knowing what it is, what it means and what it feels like. Without first understanding how to give it, and most importantly how to receive it, I may never have it. Admittedly, I wouldn't have known what love was if it tapped me on the shoulder. I knew only what I'd seen on TV. Only what I'd experienced in my early relationships. Only what I'd felt before, and how much better (or worse) the next one felt. 

I cried at the end of all of them. Not because I lost a love I thought was everlasting, but because I realized I wasn't any bit closer than where I began. I was sad because more time was wasted, and I still felt the same. Like love wasn't there and I would never find it. 

On the other side of those tears, that confusion, and what felt like failure, light found me. There was a God loving me the way I'd longed to be loved by a man. He loved me in spite of my flaws and imperfections. Loved me behind closed doors and openly. Loved me without me having to beg for it—as it may have seemed I'd done in the past. 

If God was my first love (something I always should have recognized Him as), then I was determined to be my second. Not for any other reason than because I wanted to learn to love like Him. I didn't have the advice of anyone telling me I must first love myself. I didn't even have anyone telling me that I didn't love myself. I simply wanted to learn to love. I wanted to learn to spot love. I wanted to learn to be love—to God, to myself, and to whomever else occupied my space. 

God's love taught me a lot about love—what it should look like from others, but most importantly what it should look like from myself. He taught me that it won't be perfect. It won't be painless. But it'll be protecting. It'll be life-changing. It'll be inspiring. 
He taught me that I didn't need to chase it. That true love rests within, and the energy of it would attract more love; that love would be contagious. That giving love was far more enriching that receiving love. (But if you could give great love and receive great love then you just hit a goldmine.)  He taught me that loving me isn't a chore, but a privilege. And that I need not do a thing more than love myself, to receive a love as pure as His from others. 

So I sought it out again, not to look for love, but to do love. To be love. To love myself.

I began that journey. I tore myself down and built myself back up. I dug up the parts of me I hid from others. I became one with who I was and learned to love the hell out of her—literally. I embraced her. I was patient with her. I was kind with her. I exposed her happy. I made her happy. I nurtured all the parts of her; as many as there are. I protected her. I forgave her. I was unapologetic in the way I loved her and the pedestal I placed her on. I uncovered her worth. Her value. I ripped every single bandage off her surface and loved the scars that were there. Loved her in spite of the damage that was beneath. I loved her inside and out, just like God had. I knew that if I could do this with myself—love every inch of me, knowing the mistakes I've made, my darkest secrets, and the pain that rested within—I could do it with anyone, and anyone, with me. In loving myself, I recognized that I am lovable and I no longer needed a man to prove that to me. God was enough, and I was even more. 

I learned many ways to love myself through God's love for me, and have thus, been able to demand that same love from the relationships I enter. I realized that you need not seek love, but that love begins within you, and manifests into the greatness it's meant to become, as it permeates through your being. As your love echoes into the world, you begin to attract it from those around you. You don't force love. Love finds you. 

But you must first find yourself. 

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