Devon R .

I Corinthians 13:13: Now these three remain: faith, hope & love. But the greatest of these is love.”

My earliest memory of church is on Easter Sunday, wearing one of my frilliest dresses and carrying a purse just like mommy’s; only mine has a bright yellow feathery chicken face on it, and mommy’s doesn’t. In the sanctuary there is giant cross with Jesus on it, and I think “Wow, of all the churches, Jesus picked this exact one to be in that I’m in too!” Then I learned that this wasn’t the real Jesus, just a sculpture. But I wasn’t convinced. We didn’t go back to the Jesus-church, but instead started going to New Covenant, the church where I grew up.

Jesus and the church have always been a part of my life. I’m one of the lucky ones who can say that. I went to Sunday school or church every Sunday. In middle school, I started attending a Christian Academy as well. I could spit you Bible verses backwards by the time I graduated from high school.

Not that I didn’t have faith, but I was never put in a situation that tested my faith to build it stronger. Then I went to college. Halfway through my first semester I was miserable. I didn’t like my major or my roommate. My then-boyfriend was away in the military with no communication except for letter-writing . I was working two jobs and going to school, and I began to not like my self-image. I started calorie-counting and going to the gym every morning at 5:30. Things went on like this until about May, when I finally had a long-coming mental breakdown. I packed up my things one Thursday afternoon and drove for what felt like forever, (but was probably only about thirty minutes) to my home. I don’t think I stopped crying the entire way.

I needed to start loving myself in any situation, instead of the situation I was trying so desperately just to get through.

 Sobbing to my mother, she guided me to our Pastor. I called him and he agreed to meet with me the very next morning. He told me, “You’re normal.” I was so taken aback, I cried again. “You mean I’m not crazy? Oh, good.” I began seeing a counselor who told me I needed to start making time for myself, quality me-time. Basically I needed to start loving myself in any situation, instead of the situation I was trying so desperately just to get through. She asked if I would rather just get through the next six months, or truly enjoy them. She told me to look at this expanse of time as not something to bear, but something to rejoice in. Could I create the quality time for it. Doesn’t James say to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials, because it tests our faith and develops perseverance, so that we may be mature and complete and not lacking in anything?

It’s funny how God puts certain people into our lives at certain times. Because Jesus loves me, I am learning to love myself in any situation. I have trouble accepting that I don’t have control over things, accepting patience, and accepting that my plan isn’t necessarily God’s plan. I am still worthy despite undesirable circumstances; and Jesus loves me anyway. If Jesus, the most perfect being ever to exist, can love me the way I am, I can too. I’ve always had faith, and I’m most certainly hopeful, sometimes too much, as my father will tell you. But love is something I’ve always been able to comprehend, just not exhibit in all situations. I am much happier now; no foreseeable break-downs in my future, and generally accept who I am, and not who I am trying to be. Who I am is exactly who God loves anyway.

I’m a work in progress. I’m slowly understanding loving and accepting my self-worth in all circumstances, not just the ideal ones. I’m unemployed? God has a plan and will provide. I have my future laid out with a wedding and a career choice? “I don’t think so,” says God. As my mother once said, we humans need a burning bush in order to understand a sign from God. I love Jesus because he is willing to put up with our blindness and offer us these burning bushes every day, even when we don’t deserve them. In hindsight, I can see that He has done this for me so many times in the course of my life, which just goes to show how much He will provide for us. And so, we must have faith: faith that God will provide no matter how dark the road is ahead. We must have hope: hope that can empower a young girl to completely alter the course of her life and still have the hope that everything will be okay. But love, we must love at all times and in all circumstances. We must love our neighbors, sinners, and even our enemies.

Love can do anything, if only we allow it. Which is why the greatest of all of these is love.

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