“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (Emphasis mine)
“Some people come into our life as a blessings. Some people come into our life as lessons.” Mother Theresa
We go to college to learn to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or counselor.
We go to training centers to learn to weld, build, plumb or drive a semi.
We train as interns in marketing, journalism or many of the social careers.
We train as athletes.
And we stumble, question, avoid, intimidate or manipulate to get and keep relationships like a starving person. I believe real love is unlearning many of the concepts we grew up with.
We earn respect.
We earn trust.
We earn an income.
We do not earn love. “For God so loved the world that he gave…”
But from early childhood we are taught how special and loved we are if and when we do the “right” things. We learn to manipulate, avoid, duck and cover, schmooze to earn approval and love. We then think we can “bank” those for the future. It may work—for a while.
That’s not love. That’s survival. Possibly parasitism.
We become teenagers with all the emotions, angst and confusion mixed in with hormones. We “feel” in love so intensely and dramatically. Well, for a day or two. Rejection is seen as a fate worse than death and social media can really ramp this up. How many teenagers have succumbed to the idea that their looks or fitting in means love?
Adulthood. Oh how up and down! We consciously or unconsciously love others the way we learned and shocked when it doesn’t work. Both parties have stuff, usually unconsciously. We get a glimmer of hope that maybe there’s another way and seek answers.
Enter: A church family. Then things get really sticky because our spiritual family has all the same challenges, disappointments, dysfunctions and confusion we do and believe our heavenly Father is the same.
Sheep are messy. Sheep are not very smart. Sheep cling. And Jesus is the shepherd. His sheep hear his voice. How did Jesus handle a zealot and a tax collector? How did Jesus handle a prostitute caught in the act? (I still want to know where the guy was. Smells like a set-up).
We go through the many ways of unlearning our idea of love and start learning the Father’s way. We start by reading the Gospel of John and meander into 1st Corinthians 13 and decide to give up. Who can love like that? We read the story of the Prodigal Son and his homecoming and how we relate with a tender and grateful heart! The Father loves us with mercy, emotions and words that we can’t imagine. Then we become complacent and turn into the son who stayed home and judged while envying his brother and father.
Then we get naked with the Father. We come to him with all the sins, flaws and doubts and test to see how much God truly loves us; like Gideon putting out the fleece every night. Then we study, risk and learn to give first with no motives up our sleeve. We learn that rejection may have nothing to do with us. Jesus was rejected over and over but stayed solid. We accept that learning to love is hard and we’ll never accomplish it perfectly. The real lesson is to keep our heart open to the Father’s guidance.
Falling in love is so wonderful! Embracing your little one is a taste of heaven. But then the rubber hits the road and love is also practice. Relationships are a daily decision. Are you married for life? You are if you decide to be married for today. Are you a parent for life? Yes, yes you are, especially if you decide this daily. Are you a caring leader at your work or church? Again, daily decision looking at ourselves first. And the blessing is becoming a bit more like our Father through his Son. And lots of loving relationships.
Thank you for love. We know that all things will be done away with but love will remain. We know only Jesus loved perfectly and he is our example. “By this they will know you are my followers, if we love one another.” We make that decision today. We make the decision to focus on how much you love us. We focus on how very much we love you.