Reflections on Love

If you'd told me two years ago I didn't know how to love, I'd have thought you were crazy. I was a Christian, I knew Jesus. I sang about love every weekend, surely I knew what it was. But every so slowly, my lenses have been shifting, and if anything has become clear, it's this. Love is not what I thought it was. In fact, much of what I was calling love really had other names like fear, control, manipulation, and codependency. Here are a few things I'm learning:

Love yourself. There's hints of this in the Bible where Jesus says "love others as yourselves" and "no one hates his own body." But we do. Some of us hate ourselves, or worse, don't know ourselves at all, and here's the thing---we can only give away what we have. If we harbor hate for ourselves, we'll hate others. If we are critical with ourselves, we'll critique others. If we are graceless toward ourselves, we'll be graceless toward others. Moral of the story, we have to first receive love (from the love of the Perfect Father) before we can give it away!

Love isn't about rescuing. It's tempting really, to think that. To think that to love is to save people from their problems and their pain. But sometimes love is about letting them sit in their pain so that the Father's perfect love can meet them there. Sometimes it's about letting them own their problems. And sometimes rescuing ends up being more about our own pain, and escaping it, then other people's. If I can rescue and help you, I won't need to look at myself. And that's really not love, it's fear. 

Love says no. Love isn't about people pleasing or saying yes to every request. To do this for any length of time will result in you being empty and hard. When we can't say no it's often about our need to keep being in relationship--we're afraid saying no will drive people away. We're afraid of rejection, and so we try to control feeling that which we fear by doing all that we can to avoid any scenario that would allow it. This is control, not love. 

Love is not a feeling, it's a verb. Love is an action word, the act of choosing someone over and over again. It is an exercise of our free-will toward another person and the ability to do this comes from being already fulfilled within. If you reach out because of need, you will never be filled because no human can satisfy you. Fulfillment comes from a deep sense of self and a relationship with God, and this frees you to completely choose another, not out of need, but out of choice. This is love.


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