Whitney Houston came out with a new song back in the early 80’s called “The Greatest Love of All”. I needed that song so much. There is no lonelier place to be than in a relationship alone. That was what I had. Every day was empty, hurtful, and alone. I am not one to cheat or find attention elsewhere, so I suffered alone.
What Whitney says in her song is true; children are our future. The way they are guided in the beginning is the way they will guide their lives later. I took care of myself every single day of every part of my life. It made no difference who was there or not there. My life depended on God and myself. It was good training for what was ahead. Or, maybe what unfolded ahead was because of how I was trained; to be independent.
Over the years it started to become very easy to walk away from anyone who left me empty, because I learned to fill myself. I always thought it was because I was weak, or that I have been a runner, leaving behind whatever did not nurture me. Now I have realized it has not been the case at all. It takes a lot of strength to need to nurture one’s self because those around us forgot we are someone who should be cared for. Maybe they got too caught up in themselves? I guess that could be the case.
Regardless to the issue or circumstance, the lesson has always been the same. I had to learn to depend on myself, so that is what I do. I always know when the need arises because the emptiness comes and tells my heart like a deep ache that won’t go away. It means it’s time to take care of myself because no one else can do it for me.
One of the reasons I have always performed marriages is because I get to be a part of the happiest day of a couple’s life. They always have so much love and promise in their eyes. It is the witness of two lives becoming one. I always remind them they are individuals first before they are one in marriage. It’s a reminder that has had to sink deeply into my heart. It still is rooted right where it was from the beginning.
The song says, “Everyone is searching for a hero, everyone needs someone to look up to, I never found anyone to fulfill my need. A lonely place to be, so I learned to depend on me.” My hero was always Jesus, the one who I watched in those black and white movies long ago, whose love never would fail anyone. There is more though. I had to learn that depending on myself and loving myself enough is one of the greatest things I could ever do in my life. I pledged to never walk in the shadows of anyone else. It sounds strong, and I guess it is, but more than that it has been necessary.
The greatest love of all that Whitney speaks of is the love inside of herself. I can close my eyes and see, feel, and know that inner temple inside. It exists because over a lifetime I have had to build the “temple”. Now it has become my refuge; a place to go when nothing else in life makes any sense. I go there daily and even more profoundly when things hurt the most and life is the hardest or loneliest.
I not only discovered long ago to not walk in someone’s shadow, but that I have a place to run to that is not always physical. It’s a place where God resides and I can go there any time I want. All of the guidance and comfort is there. It is filled with deep self love, admiration, strength, and healing for the heartache along the way. Today, it’s my refuge and my strength. Even when the deepest tears could fill an ocean, it is the greatest place to find peace in the storm. The greatest love of all is God’s inside of me. No need to look for God “wherever”. God is right here, in the depth of my soul and guides me from that place. Love is there when love is nowhere else. Healing is there when healing seems to not come in any other way.
Bottom line, we are not each others healer. We are our own; tears and all. Living life includes overcoming the hard parts as much as it is celebrating the victories. Sometimes the hard parts water a garden deep inside that will someday lead to new blossoms, new decisions, and new growth. Growth is always hard, and often lonely. It’s often a dark time. I’m thankful that God created a universe with a sun that everything revolves around. In the same respect God built one inside of us with a sonship that everything revolves around as well. It is in that “sonship”, or fellowship, I find my peace. Even when the only peace that can be found are tears from heartache. Eventually a garden will grow out of that watering and all will be new again.
Loving you from here,
Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry