Written by Rachel, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese
I grew up in a warm and affectionate family, and have never needed to work for my family’s love.
However, I’ve found that I am easily jealous for the affections of my close friends. Whenever my close friends are more concerned for other friends than they are for me, I feel an inexplicable sense of disappointment. When they forget to invite me to gatherings, I feel sad and abandoned, thinking that they do not love me.
Being single, I also desire a partner who loves me. In times of sadness, I often wish I had someone who would encourage, comfort and support me. Though I may not be actively looking for such a person, I wish in my heart that I had a special someone to spend time with.
I have always wanted others to empathize with me during my difficulties. When I struggle with my studies, I want to be encouraged and supported. When I face challenges in my relationships, I want a friend who would offer me advice and help.
I yearn to be first in others’ hearts. I long to be treasured and loved. Yet when I hold my friends to certain expectations, it is only a matter of time before I am disappointed. Perhaps the disappointment stems from high and unrealistic expectations. As a result, I become very unhappy in my quest to seek for love from my friends.
When I realized that seeking to feel loved makes me less content and joyful, I decided to change the way I deal with my longing. Though I want others to love me and care for my feelings, I am learning that I should do likewise for them. My desires should urge me to understand those around me—who similarly desire to be loved and cared for. Instead of seeking to be loved, I need to love and empathize with others in their weaknesses and sufferings.
So whenever the longing arises, I would ask myself the following questions:
1. Does God’s love satisfy my longing?
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
Have I forgotten the love poured out to me by Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest? I am deemed righteous because of His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. Can’t the love of God fill my heart completely? Or have I not truly reflected on and accepted this truth?
Neither the love from friends nor a partner can fill the emptiness within me. After all, they are imperfect humans who need to be loved and cared for just like me. Only the love of God can satisfy us. I am already loved, and by a perfect Love! I do not have to worry about feeling loved. Instead, I ought to love those around me—with the love that has been poured into me. When I came to this conclusion, my heart was filled with a renewed sense of gratitude.
I have since learned to take the initiative to care for those around me. All of us inevitably face difficulties and grow weary in the course of life. Being able to encourage and lend a hand of support to my friends during such times can make a huge difference in their lives.
2. Am I pursuing a misplaced identity?
Is a moment of negligence by a friend really that important? Do I have to be offended when I am not my friends’ first priority? I took some time to reflect on these questions, and was reminded that my identity is that of a child of God, not merely a popular friend.
Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
My pursuits should be in line with my identity. As a co-heir with Christ, I have access to a love that can fill me with greater joy than any friends will ever be able to. Whenever I’m tempted to reach for the love of my friends instead of seeking God for comfort, I tell myself that I am first and foremost, a child of God.
3. Am I allowing my insecurities to get the better of me?
Perhaps one of the reasons why I struggle with this question is because I’ve had low self-esteem since a young age. I have always thought that I was neither pretty nor smart, and have always found it hard to find favor with people. Because of that, getting affirmation from my friends and even a partner became really important to me.
But God’s love has shown me the value I have in Christ. I am bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross so that I am deemed righteous by faith. God created me to glorify Him, so how can I look down on myself?
Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
My low self-esteem, insecurities and fears cannot separate me from the love of God! This love comes from Jesus Christ alone, and it cannot be found in our friends, family or partner.
I couldn’t help smiling as I pondered the answers to these questions in my heart, because I know that I no longer have to long for the feeling of “being loved” when I have the greatest love of all. And because I’m a child of God, I have the privilege of helping others fill their longing to be loved with the love of Christ.
There are times when I still revert to my old mindset and feel neglected by my friends, but remembering God’s truth about who I am helps me to refocus my actions on loving others and showing the love of Christ to them.
1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”. When we love, encourage and forgive one another in fellowship, others will see God’s love in us.