Me First? …Love First

Trust is one of my issues. I am not afraid to share a struggle because I see them as glory opportunities. Also, I know that I am not alone in this.

As a result of a series of betrayals and disappointments in relationships, I developed a habit to consider myself first.One friend even shared with me that she thought I was too selfless, and I needed to learn how to be selfish. In fact, I once sought counsel from someone about a complicated relationship and she said quite simply, “choose yourself above all things.” That felt uncomfortable, but I assuaged the unease by telling myself that everyone does it. Everyone puts themselves first, so I should too.

I practiced that for about 2 years and although uncomfortable, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Then I met my husband, a self-sacrificing, giving soul–like I used to be.

Admittedly, I had an extremely bad habit of loving blindly, of not considering myself at all, of jumping in 100% into an empty swimming pool. During my “selfish years” I developed more foresight. I considered my needs and interests more so I could decline invitations that didn’t make me better. I gave just enough information so that it wouldn’t eventually be used to manipulate or hurt me.  Arguably, boundaries and facework are necessary to maintain healthy, growing relationships. But sometimes, when done at the wrong time or with the wrong people, boundary work can be damaging. No relationship can grow without complete trust. And trust is hard to grow if we are not assured that the other is also considering us.

The “Me-first” mentality is not the way God has called us to love, and quite frankly it does not work in a marriage. The “Love first” approach does not suggest we don’t consider ourselves at all, but it suggests above all we choose what communicates love. The motivations are different. The “Me-first” approach is motivated by the need to self-protect. The “Love first” approach is motivated by a desire to communicate love and to grow healthy relationships. It considers the other. It  involves risks, and the power to choose to take that risk for love’s sake. Where there is self-seeking, there is disharmony (James 3:16). Imagine the peace that comes with considering one another.

There can be no healthy relationship without trust. And in love, there are always risks. If we want to grow, we gotta be ready to choose to lose ourselves for love’s sake.

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