Growing up, I was in love with love.
I spent my adolescent years thumbing through bridal magazines and living vicariously through every romantic scene I saw on television or read in a book. In high school, I was the biggest flirt in the land, with no clue what to do once I got a boy’s attention. If a boy liked me first, I could hardly believe it.
I learned the hard way; insecurity is a set-up for heartache.
Take “TC” for example. He was an upperclassman, played on the basketball team, and was an all-around cool guy. (I’ve always been a sucker for a guy with a nice smile.) I was crazy about TC and spent each school day surprised that he called me his girlfriend. Since our classes were so far apart and we didn’t have the same lunch period, one day he suggested that we “move in together.” He gave me his combination, and I moved all my things into his locker — serious business.
No one could tell me a thing. We’d leave each other love notes in the locker throughout the day. For a jock, he was so sweet and often left me little surprises. But, my insecurities about my worth still tugged at me.
“Why does he like me?”
“Am I good enough for him?”
Unfortunately, I didn’t keep these questions between myself and my friends. Time after time, I took my doubts to him, often accompanied by jealous behavior. We’d argue on the phone or after the basketball games, and no matter how much he tried to reassure me that he cared, I couldn’t hear him over the screams of my self-image issues.
In the Bible, there was a young woman named Leah whose mindset resembled mine. Her sister was known as the great beauty, but Leah, not so much. Even her father fed into the idea that Leah couldn’t measure up by tricking a man into marrying her. He passed her off in the marriage chamber as her sister. Imagine that!
It wasn’t that no one told me I was pretty. I didn’t believe it because the people I wanted to hear it from didn’t say it. Until I embraced how much God loves me, and learned to identify the ways He shows me, I was like Leah – working for the love of others as a way to overcome how I saw myself. In Genesis 29, it says Leah was unloved, and God responded by opening her womb. He gifted me similarly, only in the womb of my mind, giving me creativity, intelligence, and a love of learning that held within it the power to do almost anything. Unfortunately, I responded like Leah.
She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. Genesis 29:34 NKJV
Every child Leah birthed, she named after her heart posture – desperate for her husband’s love. Similarly, I sought the validation and approval of people rather than basking in the love of God that produced the gifts in me that I wasn’t taking time to share or enjoy.
Like Leah, after years of heartache, I finally birthed Judah: praise to God for all He’d done and been trying to show me about love and life. These days I’m still competitive, but I’m not in competition. I merely desire to be the best me I can be. And while I’m protective of my relationship with my husband, I’m in the threefold cord club. I don’t have to earn his love or fight over it. I don’t have to hang on with a tight grip because when I look at him, I recall: It’s you, me and He. Not another man, like in the Mtume song lyrics. But my Father, who fashioned us for one another for such a time as this.
Are you wondering what ever happened with TC? Well, one day I came to our locker and checked his coat pocket for my note. I found it; only it wasn’t addressed to me. He was reassuring another girl that we had broken up, and she had nothing to worry about. The nerve! And on game night! I promptly went and grabbed a fellow cheerleader to help me “move out” of his locker and stopped speaking to him. I met my high school sweetheart days later, and TC became a distant memory!