Love the Ones You're With
By Jennifer E. Jones
My alarm is set for 6 a.m. I get out of bed around 7. In that hour, my much abused clock radio only lets me snooze for nine minutes at a time. I have it set to a golden oldies station, so the Beatles and Ronettes serve as my daily morning wake-up call.
Blame it on a repeating play list or the fact that my head is foggy before breakfast, but the other morning I was almost certain that I heard Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” more than once... which was really one time too many for me.
You remember the song. The chorus went something like:
There's a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love
Honey, love the one you're with
Being a song from the ‘70s, I’m quite sure it was an excuse for free love. However, its timing this day was near perfect to bring me out of a funk.
The weekend prior, I traveled back home for a little R’n’R – not rest and relaxation but rather relationship rehab. Every time my heart gets broken or some misguided romantic expectations leave me lonely, I’m on the first tank of gas back to my hometown. This time was no different.
I drove all the way there throwing every impossible question up to God that I could. Most of them started with “why.” I was just confused and mostly disillusioned, because this time, I really thought I had something good. I wondered why finding a love that was simple seemed so difficult.
My pursuit of bitterness was derailed the moment my bags hit the floor of my parents’ house. They embraced me and didn’t let go all weekend long. My mother told me how much she prayed for me (and my “someday” husband). My dad watched old movies with me, and we discussed the novelties of Technicolor in 1950s cinema. My brother left a piece of trash in my luggage that I didn’t discover until I returned (how kind of him to give me an idea for his Christmas gift this year). It took many forms, but it was all love.
In a moment, I realized that the thing I thought I lost was all around me. It wasn’t the way I desired it, but at the same time, it was exactly what I needed. In the absence of the one I wanted to be with, people who genuinely cared about me were ready and willing to draw me in. Their love was uncomplicated and unconditional – it was the answer to my prayer.
I believe the Scriptures when David calls God a shelter and strong tower in Psalm 61:3. I know that refuge from the unexpected storm is real and tangible in this life. God gives it to us in the form of relationships. We’re born into community, because we need each other to make it through this journey.
Someone once asked me what my goal was with my writing. What’s the message I want people to know? I replied, “That you’re not alone.” When he walks out the door or she says she doesn’t love you any more, I want you to know that you’re not alone. In every life, God provides a soft place to land. It could be a parent or sibling. It could be friends that feel as close as family. It could be a spouse or the church. It could even be a stranger on the street who offers you a kind smile. There are flashes of His acceptance everywhere to let you know You are always in His sight.
Soul artist Sade once sang, “It’s only love that gets you through.” It’s true. We bruise and batter each other in this life, most of the time unintentionally. However, there is an intentional love that’s only an arm’s length away if we’re willing to reach out and hold it close. Learn to receive God today in whatever face He shines through. Love the ones you’re with, and in turn, you’ll rediscover the treasure that you’ve held all along.
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