I’ve been thinking about love lately.
Our pastor preached on “Right Connection” last Sunday. Although I agreed with his points – We are made for connection; right connection with God helps us have right connection with people and vice versa; right connection is incredibly important – a couple of implications from how it came out bothered me a little bit and got me thinking.
In talking about how much right connection with God helps us to connect with people, he mentioned how much a tough marriage affects your whole life and hurts your happiness.
But – I have experience with a tough marriage and heartbreak in marriage, and I have friends in similar situations. Being in a tough marriage does not mean something’s wrong with your connection with God. And I especially disagree with any implication that heartbreak has to destroy your happiness. I mean, by definition heartbreak makes you sad. But – finding joy in other things was a crucial part of healing for me. And being surrounded by the love of friends was also crucial.
So – all that got me thinking about love. I’d also just finished reading Lorna Byrne’s book Love from Heaven. Lorna Byrne says that from birth, she has been able to see and talk with angels. She also says that the angels taught her what the force of love looks like coming out from people. Angels showed her that people are born with a soul of pure love – but with one thing and another, we learn to wrap a band around our hearts and lock up our love.
(You can feel love and peace coming from a newborn – at least one who’s sleeping!)
Now, I believe that loving others is all wrapped up in following Christ. My pastor also preached on Sunday about two passages that affirm this. Jesus said that people will know his disciples by their love for one another. Jesus also said that the two commands that sum up the Law and the Prophets are Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
So why do I know so many Christians who are in marriages that are breaking their hearts? If our faith helps us to love, why does that happen?
Well, to me, the thing about humans loving others is that we get hurt. We fail to be as loving as we should, and in return we are not loved as we should be. Or it may even be no fault of our own – even babies are not always welcomed into a loving home.
What made me want to write about this was a memory that came to me this morning. It was not long after my husband had told me he wanted a divorce. Now I could tell people that I was having marriage difficulties. I told my family, and I told my Sunday school class. And I remember there was a Sunday when three different people told me, “You need to let Steve go.” The first two, I thought were just saying that because they were divorced themselves. But when my wise mentor who’d had marriage difficulties but was still married said so – well, I finally figured out God was trying to tell me something. (I managed to loosen my grip a tiny bit. Actually letting go took years. But the process was beginning.)
Anyway, what I remember about that day was that a woman in my Sunday school class who had been divorced and was standing there with her new husband was one of the people who told me I needed to let Steve go. But she also told me, “You will become hard.” She said that she had become a much harder person during her divorce, and I could in fact see it in her eyes.
I decided in my heart right then that I didn’t want that to happen to me.
And I’m not talking about dating or getting married again. I’m talking about opening my heart to love.
Lorna Byrne says that it’s all the same thing. Locking up your love affects your ability to love anyone. If you let out love in one way, it’s going to help you release love in other ways.
And that rings true.
It’s not even only love of other people, but also love of yourself and love of life.
And that ties in with what Steven Stosny talks about in his books. Among other things, he says that when you value other things or people – even something like beauty in nature – you will feel more lovable. You’ll “access” your core value.
When I was struggling through my marriage falling apart, it helped so much to find other things that brought me Joy. They helped me remember who I really was, what I was about. Sure enough, it helped me feel more lovable and valuable. (That takes a big hit when someone who’s promised to love you until death parts you decides you don’t deserve his love.)
I’m also reminded of the book Deeper Dating. That author, Ken Page, talks about finding your Core Gifts. He talks about expressing your Core Gifts and finding people who are attracted to them, attracted to you.
In a roundabout way, he’s saying the same thing as Lorna Byrne: Loving yourself makes you more lovable and more able to love. Release that love! Don’t wrap a protective band around your heart.
When I think of these in light of what Lorna Byrne is saying, it all fits. They’re talking about loving yourself – and like Lorna Byrne says, that gets you releasing love and more able to love others.
I think following Christ can also help you release love. Connecting with a community of Christ followers can also help you release love. That’s how faith can help in this.
Releasing love is dangerous though. There’s a really good chance you’ll get hurt. Being a Christ follower definitely won’t keep that from happening. You’ll be tempted to become a harder person.
But I do think that faith and loving people can help you open your heart again and love. Believing you have God’s tremendous love for you goes a long way. And actually seeing that love expressed through people – That is gold.
So – that’s what I’ve been thinking about. It’s come out a bit incoherent. But I’m trying to say that Joy in life and Love and Forgiveness are all wrapped up together. Let’s try to loosen that band around our hearts – whatever it is that’s happened to us. And let’s release that love and compassion. Let’s connect with others and refuse to become hard, even though it feels like it’s a lot safer.
And if you harden your heart in one area, I really do believe it’s going to affect your ability to love in every area.
Praise God! He loves us unconditionally, and we can go to Him when loving brings wounds. And try to learn to open up and let out that love again.
Recently, my cousin, who’s divorced, asked if someone who has once given her heart, given her all, can ever get that again.
Now, my cousin clearly loves life. I don’t think she’s wrapping a tight band around her heart. I think she’ll find that love.
And, no, romance again isn’t guaranteed. But I want to learn to radiate Love. I do believe it goes hand-in-hand with Joy and adds so much richness to life. And the thing about following Jesus is that he showers that love on us. He will help us spread that love to others.