How love led her home

Ebone Bell / New York, USA

Like many others, I grew up in a home where we all professed to have faith. I was told God loved me, and I felt like I loved Him. However the real problem was that I never truly understood what love meant, nor WHO love truly was. I understood work and what it meant to have a career. I understood taking care of myself, and being careful not to be a burden on others. I understood that marriages don’t work, and if they did, they were pretty lacklustre. Love itself was an afterthought. Like many determined young people with dreams of the ‘perfect career’, I moved to New York in pursuit of all the Big Apple had to offer. When I got there, I found what I thought I was looking for – open doors, parties and everything else that goes with the glitzy, big city life. For the most part, I protected myself because I needed to be ‘perfect’ in order to achieve, or so I thought.

As time passed, poor versions of love came and went, until finally what I thought was ‘love forever’ ended in a broken engagement. It hurt, to a degree. In retrospect I see how calloused my heart had become. I hardly shed any tears over the man whom I claimed I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was emotional the week of the breakup, but then it was back to what really mattered. I dated a few guys here and there, but I never allowed anyone to get that close again. In my quiet time and place with God I said: “This is why I don’t want to open up God, because I just get hurt!” So into my cave I went, further and further. I did everything I could to protect myself, but in all truthfulness, I was just guarded and hiding.

One day I found myself attending Hillsong Church, NYC. I watched in awe as the pastor literally exuded love. I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t feel that same passion and love for people and life. I wanted to care for others in the same way, but I felt I couldn’t, that it wasn’t within my capacity. Pastor Carl prayed over those gathered that day. I have no idea exactly what was prayed, but I found myself sobbing on the shoulder of a complete stranger near the front. As confusion gave way to clarity, I left New York and came to Hillsong College in Sydney.

My own journey has been one of healing. I have learnt what love truly means and I’m learning how to use that love correctly. This journey hasn’t been without its hurts, but in being hurt, I have realised just how much God is there for me and how much He has always been there for me. I am no longer afraid of opening up, being vulnerable and allowing love into my heart. In return, I naturally want to reciprocate this same love to others. I want to do whatever I can to show people how loved they really are. I want to help people find their way ‘home’ to the endless, perfect and unfailing LOVE OF GOD.