In the Beginning…my search for love in the land of the mysterious unknown
A long time ago in a land far far away I got married, I was hoping to have married my prince and to live in maybe if not quite a castle then at least a home made of sugar and spice and everything nice and I believed with a certitude that only comes from naïveté ascribed to youthful innocence that I would live happily ever after, just like in all the fairy tales and good romance stories. (Note the use of the words ‘fairy tales’.)
Reality begins to dawn…
Suffice to say I soon surmised that most romance novels are written by seemingly unhappy housewives who are fantasizing about what might have been as they type their desperate but highly imaginative and tantalizing cries for help into their laptops, perhaps while surrounded by unmade beds, sinks filled with unwashed dishes in the midst of a hodgepodge of clutter, while dressed in baggy T-shirts and hideously unattractive sweatpants. In time I came to realize that romance novels are to real love as kippers are to socks, they have absolutely nothing in common.
No matter how many face-lifts or tummy tucks, or healthy diets we choose to indulge in the reality is that physically we shall all die.(Sad but true.) Knowing that makes how we live important. How we choose to embrace life and love are pre-eminent decisions that will affect us each day here on earth and those decisions in turn affect consequences of where our spirits go when they depart from our physical bodies.(You know up or down, Heaven or Hell, Light or Eternal Darkness.) These matters are the paramount issues that every human being has to decide while they have the opportunity. Decisions have to be made while we are still capable of making them.
So how do we discover (monkey see monkey do) what real love is? We can seek out great minds and learn from their wisdom on love. For instance Aristotle stated that “Love is a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” Plato his pupil had his own thoughts. “The madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings”, and of course we must not forget William Shakespeare who described many facets of love both in his plays and throughout his multitude of love sonnets. This is my favourite Shakespearean love quote, it is apt.
“If you love and get hurt, love more.
If you love more and hurt more, love even more.
If you love even more and get hurt even more, love some more until it hurts no more…”
Love is mysterious…
No human being has successfully described the phenomenon of love, though many a brave soul has attempted to. The mystery of love remains undefined and unexplained. Why love has the power to overwhelm us and cause us to reach beyond our comfort zones and grow and learn and share in ways unimaginable before we met the object of our affection, will remain an unknown quantity. The agony and the ecstasy…
Three helpings of ecstasy please never mind the agony…
Paul the Apostle thoughtfully describes some of the aspects that prove the presence of real and tangible love in 1 Corinthians:13:1-13 we are aware that even so great a lover, apostle and teacher as Paul could not grasp or explain the mysterious reality of love. At some point in our own search we too discover that it is simply beyond the minds of humans to conceptualize such a mysterious reality as love which was created by the unknowable mind of God. Although it is not given to us to fully understand love, we are told to give and receive love in as much and as many ways and to as many people as we meet. We are to experience love in our hearts and souls and to share it freely.
Love for the other…
Jesus says that “He who lays down His life for another has no greater love.” John 15:13 He also tells us that the greatest commandment and the one that supersedes all the others is the one which states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Some people deny that God is a God of love because He sent/allowed/chose/came as Jesus to die on the cross. It is a wrong assumption to believe that God is unloving because He sent His only Son to suffer and die for the greater good – the salvation of all humanity. It takes restraint to refrain from making assumptions about any situation at first glance, the better way is to choose to go deeper, to think more about each subject that has the capability of transforming lives including our own.
Going deeper –
The deeper reality is that God loved us so much He came Himself in the person of Jesus to die in our place. That is the ultimate sacrifice. To give up all hopes, dreams and goals for the future so that others may live. Jesus was the first organ donor and He gave ALL that He had to give, every single drop of His blood, for the sake of Loving Me and Loving You. He intends for us to fully embrace our lives and love as He loves, unconditionally and without judgement of our fellow human beings. Giving up judgement is the first step, loving unconditionally is the second and greater step, though both are necessary for growth.
What the world needs now…
This secular world that we live in models ‘love’ as bed-hopping, having babies outside of the marriage bed, allowing people the “right to die”, instead of encouraging and supporting them through their suffering to experience the grace and the deeper lessons of love that suffering bestows. Our hedonistic society happily believes in encouraging women to ‘own’ their own bodies and so deny their indwelling children the right to own their own lives, through the unloving act of abortion.
Our society glorifies the physical human body which at all times is degenerating. Scripture informs that we must feed our spiritual bodies which in contrast to our frail physical bodies, are at all times capable of growth and eternal. Scripture tells us that we do not ‘own’ our own physical or spiritual bodies, Jesus redeemed each one of us from our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. Therefore loving our bodies in a healthy way is being a good steward of our ‘temples’ which we share with God in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Am I on the Agenda? –
Putting ourselves on the agenda can sometimes seem difficult. We may try to spend time with God, (prayer, church attendance, scripture study, reading inspirational literature etc.,), we try to balance our family and work lives. Life is pulling us in many directions. We are the good ‘neighbour’ to those who are struggling, but sometimes it happens that when we try to ‘save’ someone else being overwhelmed with life’s troubles, we are sucked into the turmoil of their life dramas and crises. Being a Christian means we must love our neighbour, it is not optional and who is our neighbour ? Everyone. We are all one in Christ. In or out of a relationship with Christ everyone deserves love, dignity, respect and compassionate understanding. Everyone includes you and it includes me.
Recognizing and helping others in need is always a good thing. Sometimes others become dependant on us and that is never a good thing. Setting healthy boundaries while still being charitable and loving is necessary for relationship building. A boundary is not a brick wall, it is an acknowledgement that we love ourselves enough to say enough. Helping others to find and develop their own strengths is the greater gift. The more capable and wise people there are in the world, the better.
Loving You –
Loving others is not optional – it is a commandment, which is only accomplished when we step out of judgement into jumping heart first into unconditional love. God is the Creator and Inventor of love, He is Love and when we ask Him to put His love for others into our hearts then and only then do we become capable of loving without judgement, filled with the free gift of God’s grace we are now capable of loving and accepting others exactly as they are, not as we wish they were and loving ourselves exactly as we are also.
Loving Me –
Self care and self love are vital if we are going to be able in any way to effect change for the better in our own lives, the lives of our loved ones and in the greater community. Our earth is really a series of villages and we are all neighbours interdependent on one another for the quality of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the health we enjoy. No man/woman is an island, we all need each other.
We Hold the Power –
Below is a short excerpt from the book “Advice from a Failure“, written by Jo Coudert it very nicely sums up why it is vitally important that each one of us takes responsibility for the life that we choose to live.
“You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. It is rewarding to find someone whom you like, but it is essential to like yourself. It is quickening to recognize that someone is a good and decent human being, but it is indispensable to view yourself as acceptable. It is a delight to discover people who are worthy of respect and admiration and love, but it is vital to believe yourself worthy of these things. for you cannot live in someone else. You cannot find yourself in someone else. You cannot be given a life by someone else. Of all the people you will know in a life-time, you are the only one you will never leave or lose. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.”
The wisdom in the above quote teaches that it is not possible for another person to make us happy, we have to make that decision on our own. It frees us from placing unrealistic expectations on others and on relationships that we have with anyone other than ourselves. Loving ourselves and accepting ourselves enables us to attract others who are similarly evolved. It removes neediness from relationships.
Choices We Make –
We inhabit a world where people are attracted to celebrity, beauty, wealth and fame. This is not so different from the days of Jesus. There have always been leaders and followers. People who think and people who are unwilling to do the hard work of thinking. Sometimes we just react to the situations that life throws at us and we do not plan for our lives and so we experience one drama after another. However we can choose to be accountable and take charge of the matters that we can and take positive actions when called to do so. We are responsible for our lives and our choices. This is a great gift and a great responsibility.
Forgiveness is the first step to moving forward in a positive healing way, we cannot keep dragging all the people who have hurt us in the past into our future. For us to feel light and free and happy again we have to forgive those who have hurt us.
In my own life I was holding onto unforgiveness towards a person and did so for quite some time. One day I learned that this person had been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness and this touched my heart enough to pray with all that was in me for the persons healing and this one act of prayer finally set me free from unforgiveness. The anger I had previously felt and stored up towards this person dissipated, and then the most amazing thing happened, I could feel a physical release as this weight lifted from me and I once again felt free and light and joyful. This small act of love, in the form of prayer, actually set me free. Jesus says that He came to set us free, and when He sets us free we are free indeed. I can vouch for that statement a hundred times over. (The person was later diagnosed to be free of the illness and continues living a happy healthy life.)
Clearing the Cobwebs of the Mind –
We cannot move forward while we are looking backwards. Reliving painful memories causes us to experience the pain of them again. This shortens our life expectancy. Filling our minds with pleasant memories is more beneficial to our health. No relationship is ever all good or all bad, no human being is all good or all bad. Mother Teresa says that, “When we are judging people we have no time to love them.” So let us decide to remember and focus on the good things about others and forgive and forget whatever was/is less than perfect in our families, friends, acquaintances and ourselves.
I did not know what real love was until I met a person who loved me unconditionally, no games, no hidden agendas, no unrealistic expectations, just a genuine love and concern for me and my life. I will always be grateful to this person because the love that was shown to me, affected me deeply. It impacted me in the way I looked at myself, in the way I look at others, in the way I perceive God, in the way I think about the planet and all of God’s creation.
When I said earlier in the article, “monkey see, monkey do,” I was saying we normally model love as it has been modelled to us. When we are given an excellent model, (as I was by this beautiful and well-adjusted person), we can then in turn model love in its’ highest form which is showing love unconditionally with no expectation of anything returned, loving for the sake of loving. Fully accepting others exactly as they are and loving them and fully accepting ourselves exactly as we are and loving ourselves unconditionally – just as we appear today in the mirror. Perfectly lovable 🙂
Loving without expectations –
“The success of love is in the loving
– it is not in the result of loving.
Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person,
but whether it turns out that way or not
does not determine the value
of what we have done.”
– Blessed Mother Teresa
This means if our intention is to love with sincerity of heart and that is what we aim to do then that is all that we can ask of ourselves. No skill was ever perfected on the first attempt, keep on practicing love and kindness and each loving act and word will build on the last and before you are aware of it you will have built a beautiful castle of good deeds, treasures that are counted and stored for you in Heaven.
Keep practicing love…loving me loving you.
Marion Sinclair-Simpson (C)