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Put On Love

If only I knew then what I know choices would have been so different.

If only I could go back and re-do that day.

If only I had a dime for every time in the past eight years that I've wished those wishes.

Thanksgiving time isn't usually the time we talk about love - that's February. After all, that makes perfect sense since February is the month that has dedicated an entire day of celebrating love. What didn't make perfect sense is the way God planned for me to learn about love six years ago in February. And I'm not talking about the romantic, greeting card, send 'em flowers and profess your undying devotion kind of love. I am talking about the forgiving, overlooking, patient, tolerant and letting go of anger and the need to be right more than to be understanding kind of love. You know, the kind of love we learn to perfect the other 364 days of the year that isn't Valentine's Day. In the beginning of February 2013, I found myself facing the third major catastrophe in a three month time span, a house fire. While it was not total devastation for me (most of my major possessions were in storage during my transition after ending an 18 month relationship and closing my business the two months prior: Catastrophe 1 & 2). It was nonetheless, for a girl who loves clothes and fashion, a major blow to who I thought I was and what I thought I cherished. I lost every article of clothing, every gorgeous pair of shoes and all the fabulous handbags. I didn't have a pair of socks (or a toothbrush). I was devastated as clothes, labels, designers and price tags were what I used to value. I was all about what I going to put on in the morning when getting dressed. I was so vogue on the outside, but very vague on the inside. Just typing that, I feel silly. But it was true. At the time, I was staying with my sister and brother-in-law in their home (during my transition) and the fire forced us to move into temporary housing. The two families couldn't be more different - in all ways complete opposites. The occasions to be frustrated were plentiful. The moments of inconsideration for each other were frequent. The levels of emotional stress were intolerable. The ability to overlook differences was, at times, non-existent. For all of us. I failed horribly.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Re-read that verse. Re-read it again. (you really should memorize it) I am going to go out on a limb and say love is pretty clear cut. There is very little gray area. Read the verse. It doesn't indicate conditions. It doesn't mention sometimes in certain circumstances. It doesn't give us a "Well, I am under a lot of pressure" or a (insert any excuse here) get out of jail free card. It says what love IS and IS NOT, what is DOES and DOES NOT and it states them as definites, non-negotiables, and constants. Love

IS patient and kind

DOES NOT envy, boast, dishonor, delight in evil

IS NOT proud, self-seeking, easily angered

ALWAYS protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres....

My sister and I were none of those things it says to be, did those things it says not to do, were the things it says not to be and definitely did not do the always things. Our relationship ended and we haven't spoken since. It is without a doubt, one of the biggest moments in my life that God has used to teach me about love.

Love = Forgiveness They go hand in hand. It is impossible to have one without the other. You can't love without forgiving. God is perfection at it. Re-read the verse above again, but this time, insert forgiveness for love. It works with either word. Love is an act of endless forgiveness. In relationships, there's never a "winner" and a "loser." You are partners, friends, family, co-workers - or dare I say random strangers who have never seen each other before - so in love you both win or you both lose! Don't try to be the one who is "right," but focus instead on finding the right solution that works for all parties. That requires honest communication, selflessness and mutual respect.

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-14

This is going to seem like a digression but stay with me. I've not been in a relationship the past year. I've had to let my heart heal and I've had to really get clear on why I have lost relationships that I truly felt were going to be lifelong. Why I have had to experience severe heartbreak, and my role in creating those losses. It has been very hard work, but I can say this. God has shown me this past year that I did demonstrate love in relationships I've had since 2013 and that I have learned how to love and forgive as I describe above. I have been used by him to give love - not to receive it romantically, but to be it. Hear my heart - I am not boasting. I have had to endure heartbreak for my life's purpose to be fulfilled and that purpose is to encourage others. I have overcome hard things, so I can stand with those who are going through hard things.

So while I wish I would have known in February 2013 what I know now, I did learn from it. Now, I bite my tongue more, prove myself right less. Give more, take less. Listen more, am distracted less. Understand more, hold grudges less. I forgive more, thus, I love more.

I haven't rid myself of the affinity for fashion, it's just that now, when getting dressed, I make sure the first accessory I put on, is love.

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