Does it seem to you there is a lack of love in the world? Why is it that people get weepy over rainforests and kittens, but can be so nasty to each other? When we don’t think anyone is watching, who do we choose to be: the meanie, or the lover?
We can posit many theories for the scarcity of charity, the dearth of decency, the collapse of kindness. People are stressed, rushed, busy, overextended, tired, unfulfilled, and lonely. They have their nose to the grindstone and don’t have the time or inclination to look up. Perhaps they’ve been hurt or disappointed in their life, causing bitterness to ooze into every word and deed. In their woundedness, people fear being hurt even more, and erect a hard shell of protection. In their loneliness they expect to be overlooked yet again, and rebuff overtures of friendship.
Sorrow and hardship can’t be the only answer though. We’ve all gone through hard times. We’re all busy with daily life, and have all coped with hurt in one way or another, yet most of us don’t let our inner nasties loose on the world. What makes the difference?
We know that love requires sacrifice. We have the example of Jesus who died on the Cross for love of us. We accept that love is work, that it is a decision. Love doesn’t always look like a rose, or taste like a box of chocolates; rather, it resembles a two year old who takes an hour and a half to eat his supper. It looks like a husband who can’t seem to pick up his socks. It feels like getting up for work in the morning when you’d really rather stay in bed with a good book. It sounds like a friendly hello to the telemarketer who calls just as you’ve sat down at the end of a long day.
But even understanding love is not enough. We must have love in order to give it. And to do that, we must accept it from the Source. Accept as in: believe it to be true. God loves you. YOU. You with your nose, your freckles, your impatience, your sloppiness, procrastination, tone-deafness, and black thumb. He’s not withholding any of His infinite store of love for you until you finally get a handle on daily prayer, or tithe on a regular basis. Know this to be true: you are loved by God Himself.
'Accept' also means to receive. Once we know this love is real, it is up to us to open ourselves to it. Love is a gift freely given by God, but it has to be unwrapped – otherwise it’s just a beautiful notion. This is such a challenge! We focus on our unlovable aspects, and we imagine that because God knows everything there is no way that He could possibly really love us. Or maybe He loves us ‘cause He has to, but surely not because He wants to. I think women in particular struggle with believing they are worthy of deep and abiding love. Don’t let those lies fool you into leaving that gift unopened! Let the intellectual acceptance that God loves you become a tangible element of how you live your life.
Once God’s love is ours, we finally have something real to share with others. It is God’s love that enables us to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, patient, enduring, forbearing, encouraging, supportive – all the things that are a challenge when we try to operate on our own strength, overwhelmed by life.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.