I missed my own birthday party once. This happened several years ago when a guy who had been “stringing me along” for a good while lost his mum. Even though I spent almost all of my time with him, talked to him first thing in the morning and before I went to sleep, he never made our relationship official. Everyone at our church treated us like a couple, but he never made it official. His older sister really loved me and would have married me for him if she could have, but clearly even this didn’t matter, because I still wasn’t official, and he still hadn’t made me his girlfriend.

When I learned of the death of his mother, I rushed to be with him and his family. I switched off my phone even though I had been invited to a church sister’s house. Little did I know that another church sister had organized a special birthday celebration for me and invited people over to her house. She kept calling to ask how far I was from getting to her house until I eventually switched off the phone so that I could focus on the funeral. Later on at the funeral, I found out that my undefined partner was in a relationship with another woman, and I was left in the cold. I was never thanked for being at the funeral, and my sacrifice to miss my birthday celebration went unnoticed.

This happened again when I became pregnant out of wedlock while I was a part of the volunteer staff of a local mega church. I told them I was pregnant and I wanted to leave. Instead, they offered me support and insisted that I take up a permanent position, but I was adamant in wanting to go. I wasn’t in the best place mentally, emotionally or spiritually, to receive love. I felt like I had really let them down. Needless to say, a farewell party was organized, the gifts were prepared and in place, but I missed the party. I ran from love, afraid to be hurt again.

Many of us have the same tendency to run from love. We run from places where we are celebrated to go to places where we are only tolerated. I believe this tendency stems from self-rejection. We think we are not important enough, yet we still crave the love that will show us we are. Some of us will do anything to get that love, and we usually get it from the wrong sources. We allow the wrong people to trample over our feelings because we are too desperate for their acceptance. We never set boundaries for ourselves or others.

If you have 2 or 3 people in your life that you know say a prayer for you every day, call you, not to ask for something, but just to check up on you; they amplify every step of progress you make and celebrate you, then you don’t have to keep looking.

Love lives within those people. But most importantly, love lives within you. You have to learn to love yourself. Learn to embrace your strengths and weaknesses and celebrate being who you are.

Lastly, if love hasn’t always been present your life, you have to begin to allow yourself to receive it. Don’t disqualify yourself from the love you deserve! Celebrate yourself and show up for your party…

Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com