Free Enough to Love
The truth is: small, simple acts of kindness ADD UP. They add up into a body of work called “LOVE”.
But before we start proofing the pudding of a relationship, we must have 4 key ingredients to be free enough to love. If we can grasp these, we can gain freedom to fly: to love abundantly and live joyfully. Who wouldn’t want that?
#1 – Our Source of Love is Always Secure: When it is in God
God IS Love and God is infinite (limitless) and eternal (endless). If God and I are tight, I can never lose my pure, abundant, and forever-flowing source of true-love. God can rain down love, in many forms, from the four corners of the earth. Any person, or type of relationship you are intensely focusing on, is not your key source (or only source) of love.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Open your mind and heart to the different ways God is trying to show you love, right now. How is God trying to show you love that is not hindged on the specific person you have in mind? How is God trying to take care of you, despite some of your difficult circumstances? What kindness are you being shown? What provision?
After prayer, what strength do you feel inside, where you were once weak? Or, rather, what thoughts are clicking that were not even present beforehand?
Even in the midst of pain, how are you being tenderly cared for? If amiss for an answer, ask God to soften your heart and show you. What bird is singing, who let you cut in line, what wind crossed your face so gently, who smiled purely in your direction today? As they come to mind, start thanking God for these – this is the flow that delights God: our thankfulness.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 NIV
Knowing God will never leave you, will never stop loving you or supporting you, frees us up from crippling fear. It is our second key ingredient to loving another human being unselfishly.
#2 – We Can Only Love –Well– When We are Not Fearful
God’s perfect-love, constant and unfailing, casts out the fears that we will be all alone and unloved forever. If we let God’s promises and presence sink into our hearts and minds, suddenly, these very real fears become illogical. We start to settle down inside and see people and conflict in a different light.
“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.” – 1 John 4:18 NIV
Without the fear of losing love: that awful gripping on our hearts, we are now:
- Free to give more abundantly (more than previously)
- Free to give more selflessly (not to see what you can gain out of the giving)
- Free to give despite their potential negative (or not positive-enough) reaction
- Free to give based on what God is telling you to do, not to control the relationship
- Free to disagree lovingly
- Free to build someone else up
- Free to set boundaries kindly
- Free to be independent and intimate – what a beautiful tightrope
This is an incredible journey and art form I am still joyfully fumbling over. Mistakes hurt and I am drawn to relearn these as conflict comes up.
#3 – Our Value is Never in Question
Peoples’ actions don’t reflect on our self-worth, nor do their opinions of us (positive or negative). People have free will to be idiots, think selfishly, act unfairly and immorally. They also have the ability to go overboard and hold us in a place of worship that we were never intended to hold (see earlier post: Pedestal of the Heart). Neither is a reflection on our worth; it’s a reflection on the condition of their heart. Giving this powerful position over our self-worth, to any human being, is dangerous and ultimately self-defeating. They were never meant to wield this power over us.
If you rest in the value God has of you, your worth is unchanging,
we then have no reason to sway to the changing opinion of others.
- We are free to get old and wrinkly without worry.
- We are free to be alone and still be marked with value and love.
- We are free to live your life as you and God see fit.
- We are free to be content with who you are in Christ.
- We are free to ignore the hateful and unhelpful garbage some may spew at you.
- We are free to accept helpful feedback and change with the help of the Holy Spirit.
- We are free to change without worry of losing who you are, what you have, or who you currently have in your life.
- We are free to be joyful and thankful despite argument, disagreement, or loss.
What does this mean for you?
#4: We Don’t Really Know How to Love – Until God Shows Us How
We all think we know how to love. And, yes, we know how to “love” (with a little l) until it gets hard and no longer remains personally-serving. It’s my opinion that we don’t know how to truly Love (with a big L) until we see how God models that for us through his son, Jesus: who gives us the example of how to Love self-sacrificially on the cross.
Loving someone else will always lead us back to the cross: a dying to the self. This is the last thing we want to hear. (Gosh couldn’t it be easier and more fun that “self-sacrifice”?) God wants to shine His love on others: through us; this can be personally crushing at first, but exponentially–personally–rewarding in the end.
In my opinion: to truly know how to love, and Love-well (with a capital L, by the way), you must be continually: connected to, instructed by, and transformed by the source of LOVE itself: God.
Love is, oddly enough, something we need help with.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:7-12 NIV
An Honest Disclaimer:
If you are reading this, and you know me: I’ve probably made mistakes with you. You’ve probably felt less than loved by me more than once. I might have spoken harshly, stepped on your toes with my words, attitudes, actions, or in-actions. I am sorry. Please know, that the Savior is taking me under His wing and teaching me the difference between Love with a capital “L” vs. love with a lower case “l”.