• Ava Hoffman

choosing love

No one needs a calendar when the red and pink wrapped chocolate boxes accompanied by a teddy bear appear on the shelves of our favorite retail haunts. I mean, even the Krispy Kreme donuts wear decorations to remind us. Pizzas are heart-shaped. Special coffee drinks emerge. All décor is red and pink and white. Cookies and candies and chocolates are plastered on billboards. Chocolate-dipped strawberries, love songs, and romcoms permeate the atmosphere.


It is February. Valentine’s Day. The month of love.


There is something about love that pulls on our hearts…we search for it, dream of it, and long to experience it. We write books, film movies, watch reality shows, and sing lyrics centered on that idea. We demand apps designed to bring that elusive love to our own life. We daydream about our love story, the wedding, the life after.


And yet…that concept, this holiday…so. many. insecurities.


February can be an agonizing month. It can be so terribly awful watching all those couples, feeling like you are not good enough to ever have that. Raise your hand if this lovefest is a reminder of your failings, your scars, your unworthiness. Is your hand up? Mine is.


Hey, friend. I see you.


You with the broken heart. You who feel isolated, secluded, and forsaken. You who consider yourself friendless, loveless, and abandoned. You who have been deemed not worthy of love.


You, yes you.


The single one amidst friends with significant others. The divorced one, widowed one, recovering from a broken engagement one. The one in a struggling or failing relationship. The one who longs for love. The one who pursues relationships at every turn to no avail.


You are not forgotten. This is for you, too.

We talk about self-love, black-love, LGBTQ-love. We celebrate stories of love despite disabilities, Latino-love, Asian-love. We wrap our arms around graphics telling us ‘You are enough’ or ‘Love Yourself’ or ‘You Deserve Happiness.’ We devour articles encouraging us to be our own valentine – put our needs first. Just live your life. Be you. All you need is you. Our self-help books reaffirm that the most important relationship we have is with ourselves; you must fall in love with yourself first. Our therapists press upon us to prioritize self-care, self-value, self-worth. We place a former first lady’s words on daily affirmation sticky notes: “Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”


Friend, how helpful are those mantras?


Do they drown out the empty isolation? Do they combat the loneliness and the belief that you are less than? When those mantras of self-love meet the cruel labels society hands you, what prevails? Broken. Failure. Unworthy. Jealous and needy. Unpretty and not good enough coupled with imperfect and pathetic. A toxic combination of demanding, ugly, fat…undesirable. Too [white, black, much, tall, clingy].


We live in a world that sees our best and calls us the worst. The world that tells us to love ourselves gives us nothing to love.


So let’s chat. Let’s talk about the one kind of love social media is not flooded with. The kind wrapped in a rough sack, nailed to a tree, and not fazed by death. Let’s dive into the kind of love that relinquished kinghood for poverty and a mess of human siblings. The kind of love that endured pesky questions, blisters, and wet socks just to know us – to know you. The kind of love that meets you where you are, embraces all your ugly and shameful secrets, and dies for your life, your freedom, your heart in hopes that you will one day return His love.


This February, this Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about hesed love.


A Hebrew word with no English translation. Deep and rich and abounding. Merciful and steadfast. Given with favor, full of goodness, and teeming with grace. A love requiring the invention of a new word – lovingkindess. It is sacred, covenant, binding. A love that will not let you go. Do you hear that?! It will NOT let you go. A love that pursues you – relentless, unfailing, constant.


Y’all, can you even believe that?! You can’t make this up.


Who does that?! Can you imagine being cherished by a person who has run his hands over your broken dilapidated past? A person who asks to see our worst, our most repulsive, our most despicable thoughts and embraces us, calling us a treasure. Someone who touches each scar on your heart and on your body and with tears in his eyes says, “I love you.


His name is Jesus. He does that. He does that for YOU.

And get this – you are not worthy! I’m gonna say that again. We are NOT worthy. We are not enough, and we never will be. We will always lack something. We will always be a mess. And He still chooses you. I’m gonna say that again, too. Jesus. Chooses. You. He chooses you because you are a mess.

Those flaws, failings, imperfections…that qualifies you for His kind of love. Love that does not betray, does not waver, does not leave, abuse, hurt, defile, abandon. Our brokenness qualifies us for a perfect, whole, entirely satisfying and restoring love.


He and He alone extends that kind of love. A love freely given. A love not requiring perfection or achieving some standard of “good enough.” A forgiving completing love. Love with no conditions. Love designed to preserve you, protect you, and see you flourish.


Jesus sees our worst, and He calls us ‘best.’ Chosen. Set apart. Free, saved, rescued, and redeemed. He labels us priceless. Forgiven. Alive. He calls you by name; He calls you friend; He calls you child. Complete, beautiful, loved, desired. He points to you and says, “That one. That one is mine. My beloved.


This Valentine’s Day choose love. Not the shallow, self-absorbed, self-serving, fleeting love our culture presents as the solution for our lonely hearts. No, choose the love that will soak you in mercy, permeating your every fiber. Choose the love that holds your delicate and fragile heart fiercely, tenderly, and without reserve. Choose the love that will drench you in joy, saturate you in true freedom, and drown you in sheer utter delight in life and for life.


You have been divinely created, and you are divinely loved. Believe it, friends. Choose that as your love truth. Cling to that as the world bruises your heart.


Oh my friend, how loved you are! Right now, declare you will only rest in the incomprehensible hesed love from Jesus. Throw out the love lies you are wallowing in, and claim the truth of Jesus.


If you have not met Jesus yet – oh please search Him out, friend. He is NOT hiding! He is right there, waiting to embrace you…just as you are. Fall in love with Him first. Wait on Him to write your earthly love story, and I promise it will be more than you ever imagined.


Please reach out with your questions, your wonderings, your stories. If not me, someone else. Though you may feel alone and lonely, you do not walk by yourself.


And should you know Jesus already and still find yourself out of sorts, that’s okay. Let me embolden you to fall at His feet and be reminded who holds your heart first and always. Fall deeper in love with your Maker. Be still. Rest in Him and in the story He is writing for you.


The greatest love story ever to exist began 2,000 some years ago in a barn. That is the start of your greatest love story. Mine, too. Then that story pauses somewhere in the middle with two beams, an angry mob, and a miracle.


The rest of that story is written individually. It starts with our ‘yes,’ though. Acknowledging our brokenness, admitting our need. Willingly giving all authority in our life to the living God and committing our life to Him and for Him. It is a ‘yes’ to the sweetest and most challenging relationship; to a story written by the Author, and He never makes a mistake.


Say yes, dear friend. Murmur, whisper, cry…yes.


To transformation and growth. Jump with two feet and land in delight, in an identity not related to a relationship status. Learn what it is to not strive for perfection. To have grace when you inevitably fail. Cherish the freedom, the purpose, and the true love your lonely heart has yearned for all these years.


Choose His love.

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