The Harvest Magazine Contributor
Have you ever heard of the hymn, “Love Lifted Me?” Read these words below and imagine that you are the one that’s singing it when you’ve needed God’s love to lift you. He has the power to lift us out of every deep, dark and desperate situation.
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore.
Very deeply stained within, seeking to rise no more.
But the master of the sea, heard my despairing cry.
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
Love Lifted Me. Love Lifted Me. When nothing else would help, Love Lifted Me. Love Lifted Me. Love Lifted Me. When nothing else would help, Love Lifted Me.
Those lyrics are so powerful! As I sat down to write about my past efforts to experience love out of my own strength, I heard this song singing in my heart.
Once upon a time, I was looking for love in all the wrong places, specifically when my first love and I broke up. We started dating when I was 15 and he was 18 years old. We dated for six and a half years. He was a guy from the neighborhood and he just stood out from the rest. He didn’t violate my physical space, if you know what I mean, like the other guys did. He was respectful. My sister was best friends with his sister and that made it easy for us to hang out. My parents did not approve of the relationship and set limits on the time we spent together. Although I violated every rule they had, I carried guilt about living my own way, against their wishes and God’s plan.
After high school, I went to a local college and stayed on campus. We had a lot more freedom then. Not that this was good but I think I saw him almost every d ay. We were so in love. I was not at all focused on college; my eyes were gazed on the one who made my heart go pitter-patter. Little did I know that my heart would go pitter-patter for 6 years and a few months and then go cuh-put at the end.
At the end? I had never even imagined in all my 21 years that there would be an end to the love I had grown attached to and dependent on for longer than some stay married. Speaking of marriage, we talked about that, too, and he gave me a ring. It wasn’t a formal proposal but we had planned to get married, too.
I can still experience the emotions that came from him slowly-but-surely pulling away from
me: missing phone calls, fewer words when we talked, not responding when I paged him (yep this was that far back when pagers were popular), and other signs that signify loss of interest. These days were full of sadness, hurt, pain and despair. I remember a friend who came to report to me that he was cheating, but I thought to myself, “This can’t be; he loves me.” So, I tucked it in the back of my thoughts and loved harder. The most devastating experience with him was when I saw it for myself. We lived so close together that I could see his house on the way to my house. Convenient, eh? So, I came home one day and saw two girls, who I didn’t recognize, parked in front of his house talking to him. Immediately, I knew that this wasn’t good. Although we had broken up at this point, we were still in touch and I was hopeful. I went back out of the neighborhood and drove frantically over my best friend’s house. With loads of tears in my eyes, I told her what was going on. She told me that I should go over there. So, that I did. I hopped back in the car. Drove over there, pulled in the driveway to block him in and experienced an outer body moment. I turned into an angry cheetah out there – roaring words that aren’t even in the dictionary, they are so bad. I snapped! I’m sure neighbors heard me and if my parents were outside in the yard on the next street, they probably could have heard me, too. I was so hurt. It was unbelievable. How could he do this to me? I loved him. He told me he loved me! What happened?!
I have a lot of theories about what happened to our relationship and why, but the end of such a ravishing love was over and done with and I was crushed.
After it was apparent that we were not getting back together, I discovered that I didn’t know who I was. My identity had been stolen. I was his girlfriend and then, suddenly, I was no one’s girlfriend. I was secure and there had been a security breach. My security was gone. “Who am I?”, I asked myself.
So, I went on a spontaneous mission trip. But not the one you go on to share the gospel. I was on a mission to feel secure, valued and loved again. I wanted that euphoric feeling again. I gave myself away for nothing. I gained nothing from my days of looking for love in all the wrong places. Oh, did I say “days”? I meant “years”. This time, this “mission” left me with more heartbreak, hangovers, broken promises, giving my body to men who didn’t really love me, a sexually transmitted disease, an abortion and emotional trauma that I am still healing from today. I was living like someone who did not understand the redemptive power of Jesus although I had attended church all of my life and trusted Jesus to be my Savior at the young age of six.
I got tired. Tired of giving it up and getting nothing in return. Tired of disappointment. Tired of unmet expectations. I was done with not being able to capture the feeling that once settled me and made me feel like a woman who was desired and loved. Over those years, I had many notable conversations with people who spoke the truth in love. People who saw the desperation all over my face. People who would ask, “Are you living pure?” I would lie and say “yes”, but felt even more guilt rising up in me.
Years later after sleeping around with guys — too many to count — I was dating another guy who ended up losing interest in me. He then started hanging out with someone else at the gym where we met. It was another outer body moment when I was once where she was in his life and now I was looking at them enjoy each other. I was still interested in him even after that. But eventually he dropped off the face of the earth, and I never heard from him or saw him again. There was no closure in this relationship, either.
Shortly after, I was led to recommit my life to the Lord but I can’t take credit for it. God reached His hand down into the deep, dark pit that I crawled into and His Love Lifted Me. I was seeking peace above all else at that point. I always say, you can’t put a price tag on peace. I’d rather have that than anything now. It took me a few years to adjust to being committed to my walk with Christ, experiencing Him not only as my Savior but also my Lord. As time went on, I grew up in the Lord and gained strength that was preparing me for ministry in the very area where I was lost, sinking in sin and healed forevermore.
[su_box title=”I Learned My Identity” style=”glass” box_color=”#11661d” title_color=”#c9fbe2″ radius=”4″]Love lifted me! I discovered that my identity and worth are not in a person, place, thing or status; it is in the Lord, my Creator. He is the one who has planned this life out for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows my purpose. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” God is the only One who can establish our identity. The Lord is also my security. He is the only One who can promise never to leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:8). No one can promise that to me; not even my parents. People will leave, change their minds or they may pass from this life to the next. Only God can has a loving, eternal, intimate relationship with us that will never change.[/su_box]
Today, I look back and realize God rescued me from my own missions trip and he has since given me the opportunity to work and volunteer for three ministries; and I’ve had the opportunity to serve on four missions trips outside of the U.S. Won’t he do it?! He has completely turned my life around and it was his LOVE that did it.
Here’s the next verse to the song,
All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling.
In His blessèd presence live, ever His praises sing.
Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs.
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs.
Love Lifted Me, Love Lifted Me. When nothing else would help, Love Lifted Me. Love Lifted Me, Love Lifted Me. When nothing else would help, Love Lifted Me.
You all need to hear this song in an old country church, with wooden floors in the back woods to really get the depth of this song. (smile)
May you know and be assured that God’s love can lift you out of the deepest, darkest pit and set you on a path of purpose and freedom. Let His LOVE lift you today!
Serra Delight, a resident of Northern Virginia, is a passionate writer, teacher and lover of Jesus. You can reach her at Serra.Delight@gmail.com.