Living, Loving and Learning Part II
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."1
In classes/seminars I've taught over a number of years I have asked hundreds of people how many feel that they would like more love in their life. In response, most hands are raised. But when I ask how they can get more love, almost all answer, "By giving love."
Sounds reasonable and works wonderfully well as long as we feel loved. The fact remains, however, that we cannot give what we haven't got. In other words I can only give love to the degree that I have been and feel loved.
In my experience I don't think there are many principles I find so simple and yet so profound in its effect—and so difficult for people to grasp—than teaching how to grow in love so that they will feel loved and have more love to give.
Here's the principle: We love God because he first loved us. We love people exactly the same way—by someone first loving us!
Love is a lesson to be learned. We don't come into the world knowing how to love—only with the capacity to learn love. If we grow up and live with love, we will learn how to love and become loving. If we don't, we won't. That is, if we don't grow up in a loving home atmosphere, we won't learn to feel loved or how to love. We become what we grow up with.
If we grew up with less than adequate love, we need to get it now. So how do we do this? As we said yesterday, we can only feel loved to the degree that we are known. In other words, to fully love we need to be fully known for who we truly are. That's the scary thing that makes it so difficult for people to grasp.
I fear that if you know who I truly am with all of my fears, faults, and failures, you won't like me, let alone love me. However, if I am with safe, loving people the exact opposite is true. The easiest people in the world to love are people who are real—who are honest—people who are not hiding behind a false mask pretending to be something or someone they are not.
In other words, I learn love by being with safe people; that is, non-judgmental, non-advice-giving, and non-trying-to-fix-me people. If you are a safe, trustworthy person, as I allow you to see my fears, failures and faults and you don't judge me, tell me what I should or shouldn't feel, be or do, but accept and love me as I truly am, little by little I learn to love and accept myself in exactly the same way. That reprogramming of the mind doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and persistence. Try as I might there is no other way to grow in love. There is no simple, quick-fix solution.
For the healing of persons, which includes healing in love, the Bible teaches us to confess our sins and faults to one another, to pray for one another so that we may be healed!2 But don't ever confess your sins and faults to unsafe people. If you do, you will only feel more rejection.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be open, honest and real with myself and with you, and to find at least one loving safe person with whom I can be totally open, honest and real and confess my fears, faults, failures and sins … and in so doing experience healing—and thereby learn to love and accept myself as you love and accept me. And then make me a loving channel through whom your love can flow to every life I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 John 4:18-19 (NIV).
2. James 5:16.