Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Walking in love

I stopped watching the news about two years ago. I found myself at times overwhelmed by all the violence, hate, and destruction reported, analyzed and almost celebrated on our news channels and ultimately in our homes. The "news" often left me anxious, depressed and hopeless.  Now, there's nothing wrong with watching or reading the news; but, I have chosen not to begin and end my day with these (primarily ratings-driven) stories to protect my peace of mind.

Yet, as unimaginable acts of violence continue to pervade our family dinner tables and workplace halls, I realize that there is nowhere I can really run or hide from what is happening in the world today.  What I can do is refocus my attention

Violence is a direct result of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of others and ultimately fear that we are not enough. Yet, we know that the opposite of fear is love

Yes, love is the antidote.  Perfect love drives out fear.

being love

Now, bear with me. I know this sounds cliche. Some would say it's not realistic. What about what he/she did? What about the pain they caused. Justice should be done.  Evil must be rebuked.  Love? That's too easy. Too...spiritual?

Ironic given that many of the folks who have a problem with resolving violence through love consider themselves people of faith.

Yet, if we are going to really walk this walk, then we must defend Love.

So, rather than focusing on what is happening "out there" - and all the anger, fear, anxiety and judgment  I then direct into the world -- I can start to examine what is going on inside of me.
Love is not merely a word, a feeling or passive inaction.  Love is the foundation of our true selves.  And being Love is an everyday act of faith in God that we are who He says we are.
In Romans 12, Paul writes about love in action:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
Later, Paul writes that "[w]e who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. . . .  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

In 1 John 2, we are later cautioned that "[a]nyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.  But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them." Without love, we are walking blindly in the dark, stumbling, confused, afraid and wondering what has gone wrong with the world.

But I want to be in the light! In love, we are complete. Made perfect. In intimacy with God. Full of His Spirit.

Dear Lord, as we enter a new season, I pray that accept the truth of who we really are, which is the embodiment of Divine Love.  That we are strengthened to share that love fully, openly and courageously as we embody the example that You have set before us. That we accept each other, as one body, unified in Your name. Glorifying You always, Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Are you blocking love?


I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of 2012 to open my heart to receiving and sharing love in all my relationships.  I've been doing this work of healing with family and friends, and I wanted to bring greater awareness to my romantic relationships.  In 2011, I took time away from dating to take stock of my relationship patterns.  I discovered that over the years I've built a wall around my heart with fear.  I had internalized a belief that people, and particularly men, would hurt me and that by trusting and becoming vulnerable, something would go wrong.  By dating men who I knew couldn't give me the partnership my heart truly desired, I would never have to risk too much of myself.  Connected to this was also an underlying belief that I somehow wasn't enough -- not worthy enough to have safe and loving relationships.  Staying in relationships that didn't honor me reinforced the belief that I wasn't worthy of the love I truly wanted.

Sound familiar? 

How do you break out of these patterns?

1) Figure out what your blocks are.  The first thing I had to do was recognize and acknowledge the beliefs I allowed for so many years to block me from embodying the love that is in me.  You see, fear and love cannot exist together.  I needed to drop my victim story.  Yes, in my past, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop because it often did.  I'd tried my best to be "good" to lessen the blows.  I sought some sense of safety by trying to plan for and anticipate all possible outcomes.  But I am not in the past anymore.  I am here.  Rather than being victimized by my story, I can see it now as the experience which has allowed me to be everything I am today, in this moment.  I am accomplished, enough, beautiful, amazing, smart, safe, loved, worthy, valuable and whole.

2) Choose to love.  The essence of choice is to act.  So in choosing love I had to start acting in love -- opening my heart to others, being vulnerable, asking for help, not pretending to have it all together, being authentic, not taking everything personally, having fun, celebrating who I am as a child of God, forgiving myself and others, being courageous, expressing my needs . . .

3) Realize that rejection is an illusion.  Opening myself up required me to stop giving power to the illusion of rejection.  Many of us have given rejection significant power in our lives.  We allow the fear of rejection to limit our dreams and block us from trusting God, ourselves and others.  At the core of rejection is a belief that we are not good enough; that someone will not love us for who we are and honor the gifts we bring.  It is an identity issue.  We feel rejected when we base our identity on things/people/situations/activities that are outside of ourselves.  But who you are comes from within.  Do you not know that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

The only person that can reject you is you.  Rejection says that we need approval, acceptance and validation from other people and things.  Rejection says that we are lacking.  Rejection says that we are not enough.  Rejection says we are starved for love.  Rejection is the very opposite of what God wants for us. When you believe these lies, you enable rejection to take hold of your life.  The truth is that we are blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, predestined, marked for an inheritance, lavished with grace, gifted, loved, saved, redeemed, forgiven...God created us just as we are.  Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.

Though I have written much of this in terms of what I have learned or have done, the truth is that these are notes to myself even in this moment.  So let us pray that we know, deep within our souls, the love which God has permanently seeded in us; that we will forever know that love is who we are.