I’ve been thinking about love and prophecy and marriage and people in general. As a follower of Christ, I believe Jesus gave us a new law and covenant. It’s easy to remember as it only has two parts. Love God with everything and love others as you love yourself.
As easy as this is to remember, it’s difficult to live by. Why? In all my study of human nature, I think it boils down to this: humans look out for themselves first. There is no judgement in that statement. We have this internal drive to survive, even thrive so we put our needs and wants first. It is part of the foundational way we are taught through experience and observation. We don’t want to be hurt in relationships, so we insulate ourselves somehow, holding something back from others. Or becoming cynical and expect to be hurt so when the big let down happens, we tell ourselves we weren’t surprised therefore we aren’t hurt that badly. Of build a wall between ourselves and others through shame and judgement.
This is a simplified explanation, mind you. It doesn’t explain how deep or repeated trauma impact a person’s ability to love and trust. And again, I’m not judging. I live with this subconscious mindset every day. I hold back parts of myself from people because I want to feel safe and to put myself out there, I feel unsafe. I lock onto views and impressions of people and hold those beliefs close to my heart because to bring them out and examine them in the light of true unconditional love, I may be wrong. And being wrong hurts.
To truly love someone else, to be unconditional, we need to step outside this propensity to put ourselves first. I want to get something straight here – I’m not talking about not taking care of ourselves. I’m not talking about not doing the work to be healthy so we can enter into healthy relationships. To be healthy people who are capable of loving others as we love ourselves, we need to do the work. And sometimes doing the work may mean we deliberately put our need for wholeness ahead of nurturing others. I’m also not talking about putting others ahead of ourselves. Though sometimes love shines through sacrifice, this is not where I’m going.
Where was I? Right, loving others as we love ourselves. Engaging in self-growth allows us to put others on the same playing field. As we grow we see others differently. We open up ourselves to others. We learn to see others without cynicism or the baggage of our past. We aren’t swayed by the opinions of others as we once were. We seek out the truth because we are finding the truth within and around us.
Love others as we love ourselves. I can’t love someone if I don’t love myself. I can’t give love if I don’t know what love looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like. I can’t be healthy in my relationships if I don’t have a true view of myself as beloved by God.
Without these things, I, we, judge. And we do it well. We compare. We resent. We open up ourselves to bitterness and anger and cynicism and capriciousness.
I can’t be a prophet if I don’t have a foundation of love. The visions I receive, the whispers from the Holy Spirit about others, they could easily lead me to feeling superior. Better than the person the Holy Spirit is giving me words for. I definitely wouldn’t be driven to pray and speak with humility and compassion. Mercy would not have a place in my vocabulary.
Love is so very key. I’m not there yet. I’m a work in progress. Take my feelings toward my MIL. I resent her. I find it difficult to think kind or loving thoughts about her. I want to clench my jaw and tell her all the things God is showing me, not to edify or build her up, but to show her just how awful she has been and to shame her. Yeah, not very loving.
God is using my MIL to help me see some of these very difficult things about myself. Oh, he’s patient. So very patient. And he has a sense of humor. Amidst the pain associated with lancing the poisonous bile of judgement from my spirit, God shows me the funniest pictures of my MIL. Not to shame her, but to help me understand her motivations. They make me laugh, but they also drive the point clearly home. My MIL is a hurting woman with a mental illness. She is responsible for the consequences of her actions, but she is also worthy of grace. She is beloved by God. Cherished. We have that in common. We have my husband, her son, in common as well. I can start here, with the Holy Spirit showing me just how loved she is. And reminding me of how loved I am.
Love is a battlefield. Not because love itself is war, but because there are so many things out there that want to kill or warp the perfect love of God.