This Thanksgiving I had an epiphany that can potentially change the way I function in this world. I asked myself the question, “How would the world be different if everyone knew that they were absolutely Loved?” Every time I go back to my hometown of Portsmouth, VA, I end up going through a series of emotions and thoughts. It’s difficult because I inevitably end up reflecting on my childhood. I look back on it with the whole of my present awareness to see the difference between who I am today and who I was as a child. It mostly comes down to how my beliefs about God have changed over the years and also how my relationships with the people who still live there has changed.
In some ways I ran away from Portsmouth. The truth is that I left because I started to feel helpless there. In my experience, Portsmouth is a place that has a lot of pain and despair. When I lived there I did my best to keep shining no matter what was thrown at me because I wanted the people around me to know that they were loved. I didn’t have words to explain it at the time, but I could sense that many people had no idea what Love was or that they were recipients of its gifts. You would think that with all of the churches all over the place the Word would have gotten out, but that was rarely the case.
We were told that God loved us on the surface and in Sunday School we sang the words, “Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” But when it came sermon time, most of the messages that got preached when I was younger reenforced an idea that we didn’t even deserve the Love God gave us. We were told more about how much we sucked or what God wouldn’t let the devil do than we ever were about how Loved we are. It was the same type of message that the slave masters used to use to keep slaves in bondage. What kind of Good News is that?
When I first left, I had this idea that I was going to go out into the world and get some different experiences that I could bring back to convince people how much love there was out there. I thought if I could establish some kind of authority people would believe me when I said to them, “God loves you and so do I.” But what I found was that the lack of awareness of Love’s presence is not just a Portsmouth thing. I’ve met people from all walks of life and from different countries and have found that feeling unloved or unworthy of the Love being extended is an epidimic. When I did eventually return to Portsmouth for a stay of about a year and a half, I was crushed by the fact that I was still unable to convey what my heart knew to be true.
I’ve been through a lot of junk in my life. For a long time I thought that if I only learned how to communicate better, my life would be smooth sailing. I see now that if Love was assumed , then a lot of explanations would not be necessary. You know how it is when you have a best friend that really gets you? You don’t have to say much or speak with precision in order for them to know where you are coming from. That’s because the hardest part is already established–you love each other.
Now I am not under any illusion that people are just going to start running around loving each other. First of all, most people don’t seem to know what True Love is. They can sometimes recognize expressions that can be associated with Love like sex, gifts, and other kindnesses, but absent from the unity of God and neighbor with the Self, every act is lifeless. Love is always Life giving and Life affirming. It never takes away but is always flowing toward others for their benefit. That’s why Paul calls it the greatest gift. God is ever present and eternal Love that gives Life to everything that is, was, will be, could be, could’ve been, and never will be. (a deeper explanation is coming or can be found hidden in the pages of It’s All In Me)
It takes nothing more than a little faith and a willingness to accept that the we are all a part of Love’s Mystery. We don’t need to understand it to receive it. As I said in my last post, God Loved us into Being. This means that we are not only objects of Love, our fundamental nature is a project of Love. If we choose to accept this we even have the opportunity to be Love to our world expressed by simply being. Doing this will radically change how we experience Life and how others experience us. It may sound difficult to believe, but I bet you can feel your soul hoping that it is True. Why not see where that takes you? What do you have to lose?
I know that I sound like I am doing an infomercial for Love, but I am convinced that not knowing that we are Loved is the root cause for every ill in this world. If we can risk trusting depression pills that can cause strokes, missing limbs, and all other side effects, why can’t we entertain the possibilities of the gifts of Love?
1 Corinthians 13
The Greatest Gift
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.