“Haven’t Even Kissed,” “I’ll Wait for You, Love,” “BRAVE Love” — these are just a few titles of the songs and book concepts I’ve written in regards to relationships. Am I an expert on romance? Absolutely not. But I feel as though I’ve been undeservedly given certain people in my life to help navigate what it means to give and receive love in an honest and adventurous way. These guides that led me along the journey had many different names, like Contentment, Hope, Disappointment and Insecurity but the three characters that have held my hand the longest and strongest are named Patricia, Anthony and Joel.
This was my adventure- perhaps you can join me in living this kind of BRAVE Love.
1. Love Is Not Self-Seeking
It only took one abusive relationship for Patricia Castillo to desperately seek out her worth in God’s love. It was in that seeking that she found and shared with her husband and children what selflessness looks like. When she first met my father, he was in debt as a law student but she worked to provide for them both as he ceaselessly studied for the bar exam. He didn’t have money but he had determination, the kind of passion that inspires a woman to stand beside her man and give of herself until the vision is achieved. It was her words that allowed me to love a man not for the things he owns but for the character he shows, “Look for a man who works hard and stops at nothing to accomplish what God has called him to do. When you find him, partner with and pray for him always.”
2. Love Always Protects
Anthony Moreno Peters is an overcomer. Son to an abusive, alcoholic father, it took a divine power, greater than his own to make him into the leader that he would become. He’s a judge, author and speaker but I know him as Dad. It was his consistent protection and love in raising me that led me to understand the true meaning of a “strong man.” I remember crying on his lap after another failed date, asking this question, “Is anyone ever going to be good enough?” His response was consistent throughout those years of dating, “Wait for the man who will cherish you and love you. Who will call you the apple of his eye and the pearl of great prize.”
3. Love is Patient
Joel Smallbone is a hunky, holy Aussie with the face of a Greek garden statue…but don’t worry, when I first met him, I didn’t let him know this. Initially, I tried to hide my intimidation with snarky comments like, “Why do you talk like that? Do you think your accent is cool or something?” I don’t know what he saw in the 17 year old, thick brow, overconfident version of myself but I sure am glad he saw it. When we finally got around to having a mature conversation, I mentioned wanting to save my first kiss for my wedding day to which he calmly replied, “As long as God has called you to do so, I completely support that decision.” Then began the beautiful ebb and flow of our relationship. I would make some outlandish statement and he would respond in patience and peace. As things progressed, my strong feelings for him scared me to the point of wanting to turn away. He would always give me time and gently encourage me to come out of my hiding place and see the wonderful world of fearless love. The lessons learned in watching Joel interact with others, press into God’s voice, and love me so purely has shaped me into the woman I am today. Our first kiss at the altar was the exclamation mark to the phrase he lived by and shared with me many times, “Whenever you see Jesus in the Bible, he gives extravagantly, never holding anything back. I want to love like that.”