How can I find true love?

This is a difficult question, especially when the potential to be hurt in a relationship is so prevalent. Begin by asking yourself if there could be a chance you are hiding from love because of past hurts or disappointments. It's also a good idea to list your expectations of those you love. Many times what we want from others is not God's best. We look to people, "Mr. or Miss Right," to meet all our needs. Only Jesus can do this.

The pattern Christ set for us is our best example. He loved in a way that is hard for us to understand. He did not require more from people than they were capable of giving. He taught love by example as well as by His words. He separated the person from his sin. He hates sin but loves the sinner.

The apostle Paul tells us that love is patient and kind. It does not envy, is not boastful, prideful, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs; it does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Most of all love, God's love, will never fail you. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Past hurt can discolor your view of love.

While seeking to protect yourself from hurt is a normal response, it is not the solution to the problem we face when we avoid loving others.

In the book Hiding From Love, Dr. John Townsend, co-director for the Minirth-Meier Clinics, writes: "When we hide, a part of our character is pushed away from relationship into a spiritual darkness called isolation. The isolation of some part of our soul from love will always produce a problem. This makes sense, because whatever is isolated from nourishment remains broken and undeveloped. In the physical world, we call this malnutrition. Spiritual and emotional malnutrition are just as destructive."

Some people love too freely and, as a result, face hurt often from lack of discernment.

Whether it is a friendship or a potential marriage relationship, take time to know the person. Ask God to make you sensitive to what His desire is for you in any situation - especially circumstances involving others.

As someone's potential friend you have a responsibility to want what is best for the person. Selfish desires can block true love and keep you from experiencing God's best. Therefore, be willing to let go of any relationship that is not right with the Lord.

If God has said "no" to a relationship, don't belabor the point.

He knows your future, and He only has your best in mind. Finally, be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Ask Him to heal any hurtful memories and then to teach you how to love others as He has designed you to love. Once you learn this, true love finds a place in your heart.

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