Hello Friends, you know when we are very young, patterns of relating are ingrained into our brains as part of our character. We have certain dynamics that we repeat until we change them. Our most basic and primary need is to be loved by God and people. We can try to put that need off, or we can meet it in unhealthy ways and try not to feel it, but it’s a spiritual reality. Paul illustrated that need well when he wrote, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you! ” (1 Cor. 12:21).
When we have been emotionally hurt our ability to receive love is thwarted. Part of our heart goes hungry. Just as our internal organs begin to break down when we don’t have enough nourishment, our hearts start to break down when we don’t receive love. When we’ve experienced repeated disappointment, we enter into the condition the Bible calls broken heartedness. God has a special tenderness for this difficult condition: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps.34:18).
The brokenhearted person has – literally in the Hebrew – a “burst” heart. They have lost the ability to trust, to need, and to reach out for attachment. In some instances a person will reach out to connect with others and there is a relational rupture causing a breach in trust. Their deprivation is so great that they can no longer function relationally. This rupture can be experienced in several ways: through abandonment, inconsistent attachment, or attack.
As Christians we know that the greatest power is found in the power of love, because without it we would not be saved. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole law of the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40).
The opposite of love is self-sufficiency. Why? Because self-sufficiency is a product of the fall. It’s typically described in positive terms like responsible, independent, and grown-up. However the problem with this thinking is that God did not create us to run our emotional affairs like a one-man business. The reason that people say confession is good for the soul is because it brings the unloved parts of our character into places of love. As you begin to open up to others and share these parts of yourself, a wonderful thing happens. Over time, your self-sufficiency melts away and gives way to need. You are then reconciled, not only to God and others, but also yourself. Need is not a bad thing – it’s reality. We all need one another, however you must be wise in choosing whom you open up to.
Life is all about learning how to love, and God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a difference or conflict. Paul wrote, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, … Agree with each other, love each other; be deep-spirited friends.”
Paul taught that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity. To be a loving person requires an investment of your time. Christ created us for connection, however connection is not a passive process. It requires activity, movement, ownership and energy from someone you care about, even if it is freely given. If you want to truly experience the love that Christ has for you, you need to find people who have the ability to connect and invest with them. Get in there for the long run and commit to the relationship. What really changes lives is having repeated, structured and committed times of connection with a person.
One of the most challenging aspects of learning to love like Jesus is that you will need to give up control of how you are received and experienced by other people. Others will determine whether you have successfully connected with them, especially in the aspect of hearing what they are saying. You cannot demand a response, or expect others to appreciate you, open up to you, thank you for your time, or feel connected to you. That’s entirely up to them. All you can do is love them. You must remain humble, flexible and open to whatever the Lord has.
The reality is this. Christ desires, well actually commands, for us to love others. However connection is a two way street. You cannot do all the work. The other person must do work as well. Regardless if others reciprocate, continue to love them – because love is what will heal.
The world will know us by how well we love. When you choose to give love freely and expect nothing in return, then you will experience life in a whole new way. Live your life to please the Lord, not people – because people will fail you, but God never will. Love others just as Christ has loved you, and watch how our world will be transformed by the changes that Christ makes through YOU.
Dr. Christy 🙂