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My-Quest-for-Love-Nearly-Destroyed-Me

My Quest for Love Nearly Destroyed Me

Written By Aphesis, Singapore 

I come from a family of six. I have an elder sister, a younger sister, and a younger brother. My parents were hawkers. To give my siblings and I a comfortable life, they worked long hours and would not rest unless they fell sick.

As a result, my siblings and I rarely spent time together with our parents. My mother would squeeze some time out, at least once a week, to bring us out for a swim or a meal. But my father became a stranger to me.

It was at the age of 10 when I became aware that my parents’ relationship was strained. Family reunions were hardly a cause for celebration because of their constant bickering. Whenever that happened, I would not know what to do. Helpless, I would camp outside their room and desperately beg them to stop quarrelling.

As my mother spent more time with me, I sided her more as she fed me her side of the story. Caught in the crossfire of words and violence, I didn’t know how to make sense of it. My father would hurt my mother verbally and emotionally. This would result in heated arguments between the both of them, usually ending with my mother giving my father the cold shoulder. Without a father figure to guide me through my teenage years, I started looking for love and affirmation through relationships. At the age of 17, I had my first boyfriend. However, my young puppy love didn’t last and in my quest to seek “perfect” love, I moved from guy to guy. But with every guy I dated, the pain of break-up got deeper and deeper. It was also during that time that I started mixing with bad company and picked up smoking and partying.

Although I was baptized at the age of 14, I fell away from the faith for more than 10 years. Ironically, I was brought back to church by my most recent ex-boyfriend, a believer. He would take me to church every week, and I would obediently follow. I’d listen to the sermons, but never take them to heart.

Back then, I believed I was fine just the way I was and I didn’t have to change. In any case, the thought of being a religious Christian did not sound cool. The only reason I attended church was to spend time with my boyfriend—not God. As long as my boyfriend loved me, I was happy. If attending church was the best way to gain his affection, I figured, it was a reasonable sacrifice on my part.

But whenever I felt that he wasn’t showing me enough attention, I’d throw tantrums. I also manipulated him emotionally by guilt-tripping him over very minor issues, knowing full well that he would eventually soften. But over time, his patience wore thin. After being together for two years, he ended the relationship.

I was devastated. I felt like I had been abandoned. Worn down by all my negative thoughts and feelings, I slipped into depression.

Visiting the psychiatrist and taking medicine didn’t help. I blamed myself for the break-up. I blamed myself for allowing my insecurities to lead me to suspect and accuse him. I blamed myself for wrecking yet another relationship. Thinking I was shallow and useless, I believed the lies I weaved and drowned myself in self-pity.

One day, two peers from church asked me out for dinner. They knew about my love for reading and shared with me Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. As I flipped through the pages, I learned, for the first time, that lust and love were completely different things. Among other things, Harris wrote that love is about expressing self-control and is not manipulative. I realized that in all my past relationships, what I had experienced was lust, and not love.

I thought I knew what love was. In fact, I thought I was skilled in the game of love. I had read about love in 1 Corinthians 13 but, in reality, love was a foreign concept to me. All along, I had been pursuing the wrong idea of love. I broke my partners’ hearts, and in that process, I broke my own too.

Reading the book that night, I experienced a wave of emotions and instantly knew that it was God working in me. He opened my eyes to recognize real love. Overwhelmed with regret, I wept. I could feel Jesus’ presence and sense Him telling me, “My child, it’s okay, I’m here. Don’t be afraid, just come to Me.”

For the first time in my life, I felt true love. Jesus’ heart had been broken for me. I felt so unworthy—that a holy God could be right beside me, an unholy being. I went down on my knees, thanking Him. I was still crying, but it was tears of joy, because I finally understood a very simple fact: I needed Jesus and His love. In fact, that’s all I need and will ever need—a relationship with Him.

With God’s love in my heart, I turned over a new leaf. By God’s strength, I quit smoking. I threw away my revealing clothes, stopped partying, and started serving in church.

I became a better daughter to my parents and a better sister to my siblings. My younger sister—whom I used to bully the most—was the first person to witness the change in me. She started attending church with me, and got baptized after a few months. Today, both of us serve in the worship team together.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned. We can experience real joy and real peace only when our lives and hearts revolve around Christ. Nothing other than the love of Christ can fill the cavity in our hearts; Jesus is irreplaceable. Of course, there have been times when I still felt lousy about myself. However, in these times, I have learned to praise and thank Him. By God’s grace, the relationship between my parents has improved tremendously and they are very loving now. My dad has also become a very caring father and would even say grace before our meals together as a family.

Although my past relationships brought me a lot of pain, I’m thankful that God allowed me to go through the same issues that many young teenagers and adults face today. With my personal experience, I can help others who are still lost and searching for the answer.

Being single for the past four years has given me more time to spend with my friends and to care for other brothers and sisters who might be in need. I have more time to go the extra mile for them.

Over the past years, one of the verses that encouraged me tremendously was Proverbs 4:23. I pray that God will continue to guard my heart, so that I will never go astray again.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

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Living From Love

Title: Living From Love
Materials: Hand-lettering
Description:

Everything Flows from Love

First of all, I’m totally 100% passionate about this truth — living loved. I’m convinced that everything we do is originally designed to flow out of this place of being loved by our Father in heaven. We see this even in the life of Jesus. Just moments after John baptizes Jesus in the water, the clouds parted “…and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). If Jesus needed to hear that from His Father, how much more do we as His children need to be reminded of this truth before we “do” anything.

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I TOTALLY understand what it means to live life for the approval of people. I mean, who doesn’t like to have people like them, right? This quickly became my identity, to please other and to do everything out of a place of LACK.

I began to live for love and not from love. This cycle is dangerous because soon enough, God is taken out of the equation. It’s no longer about living satisfied in His love, its now looking for other places to fill a need that only Jesus can fulfill.

How do we live from this place of LOVE practically?

Intimacy with Him: At the end of the day, if we aren’t setting aside moments for His voice of love to speak into our lives, we can simply forget. It’s amazing how quickly this can happen. We can know we are loved by God, and simultaneously believe a small lie that He doesn’t love every single part of us. What I mean by this is that it’s common for christians to come under the influence of a lie if we aren’t being disciplined on a regular basis to spend time with Jesus and be renewed by the sound of His Loving and Kind voice. Just as the word says “The Truth Shall set you free”.

It’s true that what we believe affects the way we live. So can you imagine… what would happen if every believer BELIEVED FULL HEARTEDLY that they were 100% LOVED, without question? Well, I believe we’d become the most “dangerous” christians on the planet. Why? Well, Loved people take risk, they do things not for the approval of man, but in obedience to the Lord!

In John chapter 15 Jesus says “If you Love me you will obey me.”. I believe we can only love to the extent that we allow Him to Love us. We can only give what we have!

This is why living from a place of love is foundational. It’s the glue that holds us together. It’s what wooed us in the beginning to Him, it was His love that changed us! It was for love that He went to the cross. Everything is about His love and letting Him love us exactly where we are at.

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Artist Feature | Jenessa Wait

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I’m a 22-year-old Canadian who is now living in California. I grew up as a PK (pastor’s kid), and church life was always pretty normal. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I fully surrendered my life to Jesus. Through a series of events, I realized I was living a double life, not fully believing the truth of the gospel. I hit rock bottom, and God, in His grace and mercy, picked me up and gave me hope and purpose again.

I do hand-lettering because I believe I have a voice that is meant to speak the truth of who God and who people are, and to point people to Jesus! I love anything to do with beauty. Creating is a passion of mine, and I’m a believer in doing things you’re passionate about!

The key message I always want to convey through my art is that Jesus is the answer to all things. He is the one that gives us love, hope, peace – whatever it is that we need, He has it for us. I want people to be encouraged and to know that God is for them and with them through every situation of life! I’ve learned time and time again that we won’t have it all figured out right away, and that it’s a really good thing to not be perfect. Only then can we learn patience and to trust Him in all things.

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Love One Another

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“Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8)

We all have those people in our life that are “difficult to love”. For some reason or another, the “feeling” of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me. Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.

According to Peter, loving each other is essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to “maintain an intense love for each other”. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the well-known 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, the bible goes so far to say that love must be the basis of all our acts of service. For without it, it will profit no one.

The word “love” in these verses is translated in the greek as “agape”. When the Bible says that “God is love”, this is the definition being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship, or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.

This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love “covers over a multitude of sins”. It is love that has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it “feels natural”)—but this type of love is what matters most.

So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints

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‘AGAPE’ love

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“Why are we fighting these people?”

These were the words overheard by a translator in Mosul last month. It was a conversation between two injured militants. They had been wounded in the battle for Mosul, and were being treated at a field hospital by a team of Christian doctors and nurses.

Two of our friends were part of that team. They shared this story with us shortly after they got back. The hospital they served in was set up by a Christian organization. It was the only working hospital in Mosul during their time there, and they treated the wounded regardless of affiliation.

Can you imagine what those militants must be experiencing? Here are their enemies, the ones they have been taught to hate, treating them with love and compassion. This type of love is disarming. It causes people to question their hate. Not even militants are immune to this love. For it is the love of God working itself out in the lives of men.

And in this Valentine’s season, let us seek to celebrate this love. Not the sappy love we hear about in music or movies. But a love that transforms. The Greeks called it ‘AGAPE’ love, which is unconditional, unmerited and absolutely amazing. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. An overflowing love. A love that flourishes and beautifies everything around it.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from my friend who was serving in Mosul last month with his wife.

“I have witnessed true light that has shone in all this darkness. I have seen the real hope that Christ can bring, especially when his people come together to love and serve one another, despite the risks and the cost. I have seen physically scarred faces smile with a peace that surpasses understanding. I have seen bodies that have been broken, get up and rise. I have seen lives saved. And I have seen the miracles that can happen when we choose to love.. even our enemy.”

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints