Striving. It has always been a desire of mine to earn the love, admiration and friendship of others. My mind is often flooded of memories of when I was a child, on the playground, looking cool and athletic so guys would pick me for their teams. As a daughter, I worked hard in school and around the house, so my dad and mom would love me. Thinking back through high school, I strived for the grades to go to my dream school. And it didn’t stop in college.
That’s when I met my first boyfriend. He was a nice guy, but my relationship with him carried a striving for physical beauty and pleasing him in different ways, so he would love me as much as the other college girls. When my outer beauty wasn’t enough, I began to do physically intimate things with him that were far beyond my comfort zone and my values.
The lies in my head usually went something like this:
Courtney, he will love you more if ____________. Fill in the blank.
The more I filled in the blank, the more lost and empty I felt.
This brings tears to my eyes thinking that I was in such a place of doing anything for love. What breaks my heart even more, is the other girls out there, struggling with this burden to earn the love of a man. If that’s you, I’m with you. Here’s the good and bad news. This struggle existed long before you were made. You may have heard the story in Genesis 3.
6 He told the Woman:
You’ll want to please your husband, but he’ll lord it over you.”
17-19 He told the Man: The very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long (striving to provide). The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way, planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.”
Genesis 3:6-19, MSG
What did you see? Sin is introduced to the world, and God gives both Adam and Eve specific consequences because of their sin. Both of these punishments are rooted in striving. For women, you will be under the rule of your husband, striving for his love and pleasing him. For men, he will be striving to provide and laboring for his family in this world.
It’s wild to me that men and women have felt this burden since the beginning.
We all fight the battle of striving for love.
The good news is you don’t have to live in this. Striving for the love of a man here in earth will lead you on a dead end. The first road the have to travel is the deep drive into God’s love for you.
I love what the Lord says in Isaiah 43:1 — He who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
He created you. He is waiting for you to step into the journey of receiving his love.
That road is waiting for you, and I’m here to tell you it’s the BEST JOURNEY.
God has worked on my heart so much since college. He has redefined what true love looks like. You, too, can overcome our human desire of striving to be worthy of someone’s love, and instead experience the grace of Jesus which then empowers us to serve and embrace true love. The love of Jesus.
You may be thinking, surely, I have to serve and love my boyfriend/fiancé/husband well, and of course, you can and will! The WORLD says we must work, look good, love well, serve and strive so people will love us back. But the WORD says love is rooted in grace by Jesus. It’s an overflow of the grace we receive, that compels us to extend that and love others.
You don’t belong to this world. You belong to Jesus.
Why? He tells us—“my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:20.
Take a breath and let that sink in. We don’t have to carry the burden of striving for love any longer, because Jesus already took care of that. You’re adopted to the kingdom. Already there. All you do is have to receive it.
We love well not because of a burden, but through the overflow of Jesus’ love we receive. When we know who we are, and how much we are loved by God, our need to strive for a man decreases. if you’re reading this and feel like you’re striving for the love of your friend, boyfriend or husband, release that.
My prayer for you today is to release that burden, surrender that to Jesus. Ask God to redeem your heart and your relationship. Ask him to give you new lenses to love your man well. And ask God to give you an overflow of His love for those special people in your life. This is better than anything you can do on your own. We can only look to God to make us worthy, both worthy of His love and of each other’s love.