“I love you, but I don’t want to be with you right now.” The notion that someone could love me, yet be unprepared to commit was discordant. Figuring things out as ‘friends’ for an unspecified amount of time was not for me; I signed up for a relationship, not a situationship. As I mourned the death of that relationship, I couldn’t help processing it as a reflection on my worth (or lack thereof). If I was worthy of his love, then he would have fought to keep me, right?
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
I Love You Because…
Whereas human love has a reason for existing, God’s love for the Israelites predates anything they could have done to ‘merit’ His affection. He loved them before they knew who He was, and He continued to do so even when He was rejected. I’ve often pondered whether being love (1 John 4:8) makes it easier for God to express love. I’m not sure. Perhaps it makes it harder because unlike us, He is incapable of doing something unloving – even when He’s angry or frustrated.
I Love You, Therefore…
The use of “therefore” stands out because it demonstrates what love inspires: a desire for closeness. In other words, as a consequence of His love, He was compelled to draw the Israelites to Himself. He didn’t just want to love them from afar; He craved intimacy.
Love x Worth
The sentiments of the verse above are essentially what I expected from a relationship. If you say you love me, then you must demonstrate that by pursuing and protecting closeness. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with that expectation, however, I didn’t cope well with the reality of an unmet expectation. There’s always an awkward inflection that precedes a ‘but,’ or a less than enthusiastic statement that alerts you that something has been left unsaid. You instantly expect something that contradicts their earlier statement. In light of what he said, it was hard not to think that I just wasn’t ‘worth it.’ Numerous thoughts ran through my mind, but the one I clung to was the idea that if I were a different girl, then he would have moved heaven and Earth to stay with me. I must be the problem. Clearly I wasn’t ‘good enough.’
Allow God, not your ex, to define your worth.
The key thing about Jeremiah 31:3 is that God loved the Israelites before they knew it, and in spite of all the things which could have made them unlovable. They didn’t have to prove themselves or beg for His affection. He decided that they were worthy of love, and He never stopped loving them. If you allow a significant other to define your worth then you are giving them the power to alter something that is God-given. Your worth is constant; it doesn’t diminish based on those who aren’t able to see it.
It is important to disentangle worth from a breakup. The actions of your ex can neither enhance nor diminish your worth. However, to stay with someone that doesn’t appreciate your worth, or whose actions suggest they are oblivious to it, is damaging. Breakups are awful, and unfortunately there’s no guarantee that your next relationship will be the last. However, it will be negatively impacted if you dismiss the following:
- Co-operating with God – He is actively trying to draw you closer to Him. Fact. If you happen to be resisting then that will influence the quality of your romantic relationships (amongst other things). Bonus fact.
- Reflecting – having a ‘breakup analysis’ is always a good idea to ensure you’ve addressed your faults and you’re ready for the next relationship. No rebounds!
- Not being unequally yoked – as a Christian, your template for how to love others comes from God. Therefore, if both of you are in the same boat, technically you should subscribe to the same perspective of what love is and how it should be expressed. Loving your significant other how God loves you isn’t just an expectation; it’s what they deserve.
Not all relationships end in marriage and as painful as that is, you must be kind to yourself as you process the break up. The disintegration of the relationship is by no means a reflection of whether or not you are ‘worth loving.’ The right person will love you, and keep drawing you to them. Always.