Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: From UNWORTHY & EMPTY to LOVED & SATISFIED
LOVE….. A word with so many different facets, expressions and definitions it could justify having it’s very own dictionary. Some that leave us confused and empty, while others fully satisfy!
If you’re up for it, here’s a sneak peek into my messy love story.
Breaking free from the prison of depression and isolation. In my early 30s, I felt something more powerful than I had ever felt before. Actually, it didn’t start with a feeling but with an understanding, a new realization, a deep knowing, an internal conviction. I had a Bible open in my lap while sitting on my bed. I just finished reading some words that seemed to have jumped off the page and cut right into my heart. It was as if these words were written specifically for me at this particular moment in time. And literally the book fell open to this particular passage of words without me having any specific reading plan. At this point in my life, I had very little experience with the Bible. It was very new to me, and I was in an exploratory phase mainly because I was so fed up with the way I was running my life. It felt like every direction I would run, I met with a solid brick wall. Brick walls really hurt when met unexpectedly and with running speed! OUCH!!!!
Obviously I’m not talking about literal brick walls but metaphoric ones. Let me explain some of those brick walls in my life and how I came to such a screeching, painful halt.
I was in an endless search for love and acceptance by everyone around me. I sought after this love by doing whatever it took to be the best at every sport I played. I had to win! If I didn’t win, then I was a nobody. I sought after trophies, medals, recognition and beating out everyone else, so I could prove to the world…”Look at me! I belong here. I am good enough. I am worthy!” Certainly there were some great lessons in my addiction to winning. I learned the fruitfulness of discipline, practice and hard work. Not all winning is bad. But over the decades, as I collected the trophies and recognition, MVP awards, state champion titles, becoming a 3-time Champion IFBB Pro Figure athlete, and a TV star as the superhero, SIREN, on NBC’s American Gladiators, I still felt this ever-growing hole in my heart. Despite all of this achievement, I was still “Not good enough”. Then it hit me “like a ton of bricks (pun intended).” No matter how many trophies I won, magazine covers I graced, or how famous I became, it would never be enough to fill this hole of unworthiness deep in my heart. I became exhausted chasing this unattainable love and acceptance from the world.
Simultaneously while proving myself through sports, I also needed constant validation from men to feel important, wanted, and valuable. As a young girl growing up, my birth father wasn’t really part of the picture (a long, crazy, heart-breaking but beautiful story I will share at another time). I didn’t realize it until I was an adult, but as a child, I felt abandoned by my father, which fueled a deep longing to be loved and adored by boys/men. I actually believed that my body was my value. I had to be sexy and sexual to be loved. For so many years I thought that this kind of attention and validation would fill the void in my heart, which only lead me into countless heart-breaks over the years.
What followed my many failed relationships and my super successful athletic career was a 2 year deep depression. I isolated myself from friends and society. I pretty much broke off all ties with my past and felt as if I had to start all over again. But I had no idea what I needed to do. I wanted to be different. I knew my old ways were broken. I desperately desired a better way. And that’s when I prayed to “God” whom I had heard about but didn’t really know intimately. I prayed, “I am so done with living my way. I am tired, broken, empty, and defeated. Please show me Your way. Give me signs; take me; teach me; mold me; change me; guide me.” This was a pretty bold prayer. I knew I would have to give something up and trust in His ways instead of my own, but at this low point I figured I really had nothing to lose. I just felt too beaten down and bruised to keep going it alone.
I always thought God and His “rule book” were for people who were weak, grieving or lacked self-confidence. Bahahaaaaa! And now here I was needing Him and His guidance and power just to get me out of bed and give me the strength to get through one more day.
A few Bibles had made their way into my hands over the years given to me by bold, brave, caring people who obviously knew I would need it. So I sat on my bed after that bold prayer for help, and that’s when the words I read literally jumped off the page into my heart. It was as if they were written just for me. “How was this even possible?,” I thought to myself. From that point on I was hooked on every word. I would consume “book of life” for hours at a time every day for months (still can’t put it down 7 years later). God’s words rang true. They revealed sin in my life in a convicting way, but not condemning. These words also revealed a hope for something greater than I ever knew possible. A life far greater than what the world had offered. I learned so much about who God is, and who He created me to be. That He had a purpose for me. During this time a chain of serendipitous events lead me to meet three different pastors and a community of Christians that truly cared for me like I was family.
It was during this time I actually met the God of the Bible through His Son, Jesus (fully human and fully God). Through the eyes, the life, the words and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and through His body of Christ (the new people of faith in my life) I found TRUE LOVE!!!! A love that fills every inch of my heart and then some. I knew there was something special about this Jesus guy. So I gave Him control over my life at age 33 (almost 7 years ago). My search was over! My life has never been the same.
This love story doesn’t have an ending. Jesus has surely put an end to my stressful search for love, believing the lie that my body is my value, and always having to prove that I am somebody. And yet He calls me closer to His perfect love every day. His love captivates me to pursue Him even more, but from a place of fullness instead of scarcity. God’s unconditional love redeemed me from my sinful living and healed me from the pain caused by others. He has shown me my value comes from His Holy Spirit at work inside me. He has called me into a whole new mission that gets clearer and more exciting every day.
During my talk at the next Minutes Matter Meetup, I will dive into a few more juicy details of how His love empowers us as I unpack the scriptures revealing the pure love of God that satisfies our soul and truly sets us free. Right now, I am boldly praying to our Great and Mighty Heavenly Father and thanking Him in advance for shedding light on your own story and giving you the power to discover (or reignite) real love that is right there waiting for you to claim it, receive it and be joyfully overwhelmed by it.
Truly, fellow sister, THANK YOU for the honor of your time and attention as I share my story. It heals me at deeper levels every time I get to share it. God bless you!
Daughter of God, Wife to David, Mother to Trinity (age 2), Life Transformation Coach, Leader of the FITmission Warrior Women
COME SEE VAL AT THE MM MEET UP!
February 17th, Brecksville Library @ 10:30am
GOD FIRST LOVED US
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 4:9-10 ESV
JESUS IS THE LIVING WATER
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.””
John 4:13-15 ESV
RENOUNCE UNGODLINESS & WORLDLY PASSIONS
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Titus 2:11--14 ESV
IN CHRIST WE ARE A NEW CREATION
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV