My heart sank as I heard the teacher call my name. “Megan, you’re being checked out for a doctor’s appointment.” I couldn’t believe my poor luck. It was recess time, and today was the day the stars were finally going to align. I had been cast to play April and my crush would be playing the role of Splinter. In this particular episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter would be saving me! I would finally have the chance to be saved by the cutest boy in my class. Dejected, I walked toward my teacher and watched helplessly as Rachel took my place.
I was five.
From an early age, I’ve been hooked on love. I’m not sure how it happened, but I absorbed the message that my self-worth was directly connected to whether a male wanted to be with me. Since then I’ve ricocheted from one undesirable partner to another, never stopping to ask myself if any of them reflected the qualities I needed in a partner. Instead I basked in the glory of their attention and fell in love with the idea of love rather than the reality of the person in front of me.
It’s a bit ironic that I find myself single on Valentine’s Day. Completely single. No one waiting in the bull pen. Just . . . single. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time this happened, but it comes during a year of intentionally living a life alone. And I’m not sad about it.
You see, recent events have forced me to do some soul searching, and what I found was not pretty, nor was it godly. I realized that while I tinkered away at the cute, overt sins, I was missing the largest, most glaring covert sin of all. I was breaking God’s greatest commandments—love God with all your soul, heart, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This obsession with love had come between me and God in the most subtle and sneaky way. By allowing men to hold my self-worth and value in their hands, I was rejecting the unconditional love of my Creator. By allowing others to tear me down, over time I had forgotten how to love myself; therefore, I could never truly love others appropriately. Furthermore, I allowed the desires and needs of men to trump the desires and wishes of God for me and my path. I was missing my true calling, because I wanted to keep those around me happy at all times. I had allowed men to be my higher power, and I was a pleaser of man rather than a pleaser of God.
Please do not mishear me. In no way am I suggesting that love is a sin or that being in a healthy relationship is a sin. God designed us for companionship. What I am suggesting, however, is that if our desire for love is dysfunctional or unhealthy, then we have a spiritual problem as well as an emotional problem.
My wish for you this Valentine’s Day is that you can spend some time with your first love—the One who knit you and formed you. The Almighty who knows your every gift and talent, yet also knows your every weakness and loves you unconditionally. As for me, no longer will I spend my precious recess time waiting for a man to save me or playing “He loves me, he loves me not” with a flower. Instead I will be remembering how to love myself and how to love God fully and with reckless abandon.
Megan Seals is a former sixth grade teacher who left the classroom to follow a calling in worship leadership and writing. Her passions include issues of inclusion, diversity, mental health, and creating space at the table for Christian women without children. She loves a good adventure and the opportunity to travel and learn about different cultures. Find more from Megan online at meganraeseals.com.
Photograph © Jonatan Pie, used with permission