The topic of love has been on my heart quite a bit recently for reasons I’m not telling. I've gone through what can be described as an epic transformation, metamorphosis if you will. At any rate I will spare you the exposition and share with you how love has been on my heart. As a follower of Jesus, I am expected to love everyone. Myself, my neighbor, my neighbor's annoying friend, my neighbor's jerk brother. And the rest. I just finished the book Blue Like Jazz and I got to say....wow. Very good stuff. At any rate in that book the author proposes the question "Do you love unconditionally?" And so like the responsive reader I am, I asked myself the question, "Brian, what about the way you love people says you love unconditionally?" I couldn't answer the question... In the book the author has a similar freak out experience. I noticed that sometimes I'm not that great at being loving to all people. Particularly in my attitude towards others who annoy me or offend me or those who call me short. Nobody likes being reminded that they are small. Its okay I can run faster than them anyway.
So, a few days after I read that chapter I thought I would try something to try and fix my attitude issue. I went into work (Six Flags St. Louis as a performer) and everyone I passed I looked at them and thought "I love you." People need to hear those words. I think words must start as thoughts. It's best to think before you speak. I looked at probably 50+ people and muttered and thought I love you. All of them different. Kids, old folks, moms, dads, weird looking people, fat people, skinny people, people in wheel chairs. I thought I love you and something started to happen. I got this very "more than Brian" goofy grin on my face. It was like I was walking in the clouds. I felt lifted and purposeful. As if I was connected in a web. Part of a big family and every stranger my best friend or brother or sister. I wanted to kiss a child on the forehead. Good thing I didn't. I'm not a fan of jail. After a while of mentally confessing my care for these people, I felt an urge to pray.
Father help me to love as you love. Unconditionally. Help me be a magnet of love for you. Use me to show others that you are love and that only through your Son can we be made whole. Teach me and correct my selfish attitude. Let me not withhold love from anyone. Amen.
How can we experience the love of God if we haven't first felt the love of another? Furthermore how can we give love to others if we first haven't felt the love of God? Feeling love and knowing love are different things but they meet somewhere, hard to say exactly where.
Another concept concerning love on my heart is the idea of learning how to love yourself. How can I love myself? Isn't that pride? No. I don't think we can love others or God until we know how to receive love. That starts with the self. The knowing part of love means understanding that you are loved. Feeling love is the hard part. Loving yourself I suppose means respecting yourself. When you respect yourself with what you know (that you are valued and a gift wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of Almighty God) then you will let yourself be loved. Goo Goo Dolls say it best.
"You're the only one I ever believed in. The answer that could never be found. The moment you decided to let love in. And now I’m banging on the door of an angel, the under fear is where we begin. The moment we decided to let love in."
I recently took my Dad's advice the sage of 50 that he is. I let myself be surprised. I am learning how to let myself be loved. Nothing is more humbling.
When will we stop hiding and let love in? When will we let ourselves be loved? When does hate stop? When does selfish attitude stop? It begins with me. I must love myself in full confidence that I was bought at a price. I am not my own. I was loved enough to be died for. In turn I love me because I am loved. Then I can love my neighbor. All of them. All seven billion.
I love you. Whoever you are reading this. You are loved. Love yourself. Don't withhold love. It is not limited. There is enough to go around. So go. Share. In Jesus name.