Monthly Archives: January 2014

Saved or Loved? Need or Love?

Words have such different meaning for each of us. I’m not very comfortable with “saved.” For one, it sounds like I’m finished, so why am I stuck here? For two, it sounds like now I belong to the in crowd, instead of the rest of the human race. I never was much on being with the in crowd, because it seemed to require trading my individuality for a false sense of pride or security.

To me the message of Jesus was: Humanity is loved unconditionally. Loved unconditionally means you are of eternal value…..it is not a short term thing.

If I’m loved unconditionally, then why wouldn’t I just do whatever I feel like doing?

Because once I experienced that kind of love that is beyond human understanding, it changed everything. Nothing else comes close to that joy….no pleasure, no fame, no drug, not even a parent or spouse’s love. Life is about learning and growing, but particularly it’s about being emptied so we can be totally filled, full to bursting with the joy of that love.

Whether I am a thimble, a tea cup, or an ocean won’t matter, because I will be full.

We learn to love, when we discover that we are not only loved, but that we are of eternal value, so we aren’t limited to a life span. We don’t have to grab all the toys, pleasures, friends, fame, success we can in our limited time on earth. They are here to enjoy, but they are only snacks, not the main course. They are the junk food of life……and though on any given day, in our humanness they may help us temporarily get through a scary place, if we don’t regroup and once again turn to that Love Beyond Understanding, that we call God, we become addicted and make them our whole diet and then there is no room for the joy of love.

Loving others, not just as we love ourselves, but as Jesus loved us, is what makes room for joy. It involves letting go of the bling, of the snacks, so we can be filled with the joy of loving.

I don’t think we can love someone we need. If we need them to be a certain way and they can’t, what happens then?
If we are weak, we are needy. Weak is not being afraid, but being controlled by our fear of pain or suffering. There are a million addictions, probably a hundred per person, that we use to blot out pain, whether the small and shallow or the overwhelming and deep.

But to be controlled by fear of pain means never risking loving someone, because love doesn’t fear not being loved, it fears hurting with the one we love, when we are helpless in the face of their pain. Love increases our vulnerability a hundred fold. Love means letting our fortress walls fall to ruin because it is not the enemy they keep out, it is love itself, the caring more about another than protecting our tender inner self.

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I Love You, God, BUT…………

I realize that much of what hits me is really pretty obvious, but sometimes familiar things suddenly speak to me at a different level, hopefully one that will help me grow more loving.
I used to think that praising God was loving God, then I realized that God doesn’t need praise, He wants us to praise him for our sakes.  He wants us to lift our eyes from our tiny selves so we can connect with Him and his love, and get a very different perspective on life.

I also, have “known” for a long time that what we do to others we do to Jesus/God.

I had some difficulties with the “Love God with your whole heart etc. and love others as you love yourself.”           First, if I love God with my whole self, what’s left over for others?  Plus, my study of Psychology and my own experience have shown me that I love others exactly as I love myself! When I am in a good place about myself, I find it much easier to love others and when I am in a bad place about loving myself, I am the Wicked Witch of the West to others.  Which fits with Paul’s statement that we love, because God first loved us.  God is our well spring.  And we may be Spirit filled, but we leak.  So we have to keep returning to our source.

Jesus grew in his understanding and ultimately called us to a whole other level of loving….to love as Jesus loved is to put aside our self for others.  The way we love God is by loving others with no conditions.  Not my favorite thing frankly.  This morning after reading a post on the blog “everyday gurus” about a child correcting his father when the father criticized someone the child loved, I realized that mostly my way of loving is, “I love you, BUT…….couldn’t you stop doing …… couldn’t you be more thoughtful……couldn’t you show more appreciation……..” In other words, I love you, but I’d love you more if you met my needs, my expectations.

When my kids were young and  got in trouble, they used to say: “Nobody’s perfect!” And my husband would say, “Well, try a little harder!” But that’s the same thing really.  The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to love the imperfect.            It somehow seemed clearer today that the only way we really have to love God, who is way beyond our comprehension, is to love His creation and creatures, but particularly the most challenging ones, his very human people. I do pretty well with the creation part, a little less well with some of his creatures, and generally at some point fall back to: “I love you, BUT” with his people……. particularly those closest to me, whom I expect to meet at least some of my needs.

So much for loving God! Dear God, I love you, BUT………………………….!

Well, back to the drawing board……………..or better, to the Source.

The Journey through Disillusionment to Meaning

I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big God and Jesus and Holy Spirit fan. What not everyone knows is that I was an agnostic for some years and a big Madalyn Murray O’Hair fan.

When in college, I visited Nursing Homes, in my mid twenties I taught ballet at a Children’s Psychiatric Ward, in my late twenties, I worked at the NAACP offices for Project Equality, and also wept while watching battles in Vietnam on TV. It was hard to find God in those situations.

In 1963, my dad, Pope John 23, and John F. Kennedy all died. It seemed like all my heroes of hope were gone.

It isn’t very comfortable to hate God, so I simply stopped believing in Him.

My journey to personal faith ultimately took several years spent in a serious search for some sort of meaning to life. That search was motivated by having my own children begin asking me hard questions. And though it is still obvious to me that life is not fair and that life is often hard and miracles are rare, I have found purpose, meaning, and great joy in life through an ongoing growing relationship with Jesus Christ, who made life and God understandable for me. It was a journey starting from faith in religion and faith in heroes, through disillusionment with those, on to a first hand experience of the love fleshed out by Jesus and the call to pass it forward.

I worry about the young people who are being exposed to both the hardships of life and its dark side in so many ways long before they have their love for their own children to motivate them to seek meaning in life instead of escape.

That seems to be the crux of the problem. Whenever we become aware that life is going to be hard sometimes for everyone, will we have the maturity to search for meaning rather than to seek escape?

Everyone’s journey is different, so all I can do is share that the search is well worth the effort and struggle and pain. My way may not be your way, but ultimately the truth will set you free for joy, hope, and love.