To Love Somebody

“I’d seen the sun in the sky with my eyes and understood with my intellect the laws governing the travel of its rays from there to here, but because I couldn’t constantly feel it’s warmth on my skin I called the whole thing into question.”

Can there be any greater question asked than “What is love” or what does it mean to “love somebody”? Perhaps not! Over the past couple of years I know I’ve struggled to find those answers. I’ve pursued the truth and tried to remain open to the likelihood that it wouldn’t necessarily coincide with my preconceptions. Much of that “seeking” has been shared here with you and as always, I hope you find something in what I’ve written that resonates with you and casts light on your own path…

What do I know about Love?

The first and most essential “thing” to know and embrace is that love isn’t a thing! It’s it’s own entity. It’s alive and real and exists entirely apart from us. It’s a very tangible, personal, presence we can’t possess and that can only be given unconditionally! One that our hearts are either open and welcoming to or closed and isolated from. It’s ultimately powerful and imparts it’s strength to us acting as an agent of change in our lives for the better. Love can come to us through something as common as the “secret ingredient” in mom’s cooking. Or speak to us through the inner empathic voice we hear that says, “You were once like that!” It’s what makes a man rise up early smiling and eagerly head to work everyday! But love can also take us to some un-familiar places like “your knees” where you find yourself desperately praying to whatever god is listening for intercession on someone’s behalf.

Love is divinely kind and wise and it shows us great respect in that even though it seeks to restore us in all ways it will only go where it’s invited or where doors are open. Love truly is all around us and how tragic it is that we can’t feel it because our hearts aren’t open! I think its under these difficult circumstances that love becomes creative and His methods most interesting. Working behind the scenes, choosing, Inhabiting and directing the necessary people and circumstances into peoples lives who’re destined to play a critical part in some cosmic “perfect storm” of revelation when we, as I did,sincerely request it!

Actually I feel like what I did was to demand it. I needed a personally unavoidable demonstration not unlike what Paul experienced on the Damascus road. And while I certainly wasn’t blinded, as a result my viewpoint has definitely been changed! In short…I’d seen the sun in the sky with my eyes and understood with my intellect the laws governing the travel of its rays from there to here, but because I couldn’t constantly feel it’s warmth on my skin I called the whole thing into question.

Of course I needed all this proof to occur despite my heart being closed, frozen solid and surrounded by glacial walls! Somehow I expected love to find me there hidden within the many tangled layers of impervious defense I’d built up over my life in response to the fear of pain…protecting and suffocating me all at once! It seems as though there are definitely times we can be our own greatest obstacle and I’m guessing that’s why it took so many years for all the components to come together. Not only in my life but also in the lives of all who were to be touched by what follows.

And so it happened one perfect summer evening that love chose to act upon me through the simple smile of a young girl. I don’t recall any rapturous swooning moment or anything like that, only the gentle warmth that seemed to reach out to me and touch the cold place inside causing the first huge piece of ice to melt and fall off of my heart! It was an opening through which love could now move, one which also allowed me to feel again! And with these new feelings came an onslaught of new questions, the answers to which were always supplied by “love” as long as I chose to listen. It was in that moment, in my heart at least, that she became my daughter. It became my joy to give her whatever she might ask of me that wasn’t obviously harmful and to concern myself with her welfare. I also saw fit to provide a few unsolicited “wants” to her and her family who were seemingly struggling at the time. I don’t see it as being wrong in any way to love someone or to feel good about helping people but for someone like myself it can easily become a situation where it becomes a bit more about you than it is them and that’s kind of messed up.

Blissfully unaware of my diversion from the prime directive of ” first do no harm” I had waded in about chest deep and it felt wonderful! Then one day while I was reveling in my own self aggrandisement I heard a voice in my head say…

Do you realize that God The Father loves you that much? and SO much more! And despite everything He’s already done for you is still more than willing to meet you where you are…He’s also eager to show how much He loves you! And now that you know how it feels wont you at least give Him that chance?

There before me my dilemma crystalized in all its painful beauty. It was hard to look at but I felt as though it was a blessed opportunity that I welcomed to invoke a “pattern interrupt” in my life and to somehow be the man that love saw me as and somehow believed I was! Simple things in life can be hard to learn, namely that I couldn’t (as only He could) love anyone perfectly! Believe me, perfection is a BIG deal to me! I feel as though whats happened, whatever it may be, has been a real game changer for me. After feeling rather hopeless about certain areas of my life and being spiritually adrift I now feel the empowerment to begin again and make some needed changes! It’s been the impetus for me to look at other relationships in my life both past and present, and at the people who’ve tried to love me (however imperfectly) that I’ve pushed away. As a further result I feel as if I’m able to give and receive love with a new openness in every relationship I’m a part of as a result of my new…

open heart

Here’s a news- flash!

It’s quite unrealistic to expect a perfect love from ourselves or others because our “selves” are always going to get in the way! I have a tendency to not trust in love so I find myself looking for reasons to affirm that mistrust.

I’m looking for a reason to reject others preemptively because I’m pretty sure that they’ll eventually reject me and I wanna be ready! I’ve found that if you focus on peoples imperfections and judge them for them instead of realizing the miracle it is that any of us can love at all you’re sure to reap what you sow!

That evening, In just a single moment love showed me it’s perfect self and then left me at loose ends.. scrambling to somehow find a way to give back the perfect gift I’d been given. Its been a gradual change for me since then but day after day I can still feel the ice melt and fall off. I’ll always be in loves debt and I’m still looking to make good on that… The only difference is that now I understand it’s a debt I owe to everyone!

I’ve found this to be quite a wonderfully humbling revelation!

And in case you didn’t know…that’s what’s known as a “teachable moment”

One which I’m happy to say is still in effect!

If I have any real point to make here it’s only this…

Thinking that God loved me didn’t do me any good! 

It’s only when we start to really know how much He loves us and how passionate He is about being a part of our lives that we can begin to receive the good “things” He has for us and as a result be empowered to transcend all of the petty in comparison trappings of this life that are the source of so much despair!

Treat yourself and have a listen to Sister Janis as she testifies!

Are You Serious?

It can be difficult to know who is!

It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder  the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.
image

This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.

Enough setup?

Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.

Here’s one…

Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?

The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!

In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?

“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit

WOW! He’s in a mood today…

Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.

Philippians 3:9

KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.

Romans 7:14-16

KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…

There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!

Galatians 5:22

KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!

Or am I?

Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…

Surely not!

WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…

So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?

Oh not much…

I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.

Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!

That’s what I want from my spiritual life!

I’m tired of white knuckling it!

And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.

Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion

and I definitely don’t believe in that.

What I do believe in is love.

And it’s transformative power!

So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…

1 John 4:8

KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

After all that I’ve been through…

all that I’ve seen and done.

I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!

which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!

Are You Serious?