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Monday, August 29, 2011

The 3 Imperatives of Love



Everyone who’s even vaguely interested in life is after the key to it. And even though ‘the secret’ is easy to understand, it’s correspondingly difficult to apply. It’s as simple as this: love God, accept ourselves, and be gracious to all others.


That’s wisdom in a nutshell.


But we would be remiss to dismiss school at this point having not understood the enormous complexities involved in simply practising love.


It might seem easy to describe loving God, ourselves, and others as simply acting in love; but realistically, most people will still be scratching their heads about what that actually looks like.


Loving God


Central as the most important thing we can and should do is love God. But just how do we do that? In today’s distractive and noisy world it may not be as much about actually worshipping God as it might be about watching what we might be susceptible of worshipping otherwise.


In other words, loving God is perhaps as simple as ordering our other devotions, and keeping in check the passions that might be opposed to God. That done, the positive action of worshipping God by being in constant communion with the Holy Spirit is what’s in range.


Accepting Ourselves


Surprisingly, most of the basic problems we have in life emanate from the poor relationship we have with ourselves. Most of those problems came because of our development, and some of them came to us even before we were born. Accepting ourselves is somehow an incredibly difficult process.


Of course, accepting ourselves is a double-edged sword. Some things we cannot accept no matter how hard we try. We feel determined to change some things, and because we have changed some things our confidence has surged. So, accepting ourselves is sometimes about changing ourselves first.


But ultimately, we do need to come to a landing regarding acceptance for who we actually are.


Being Gracious To All Others


This is where we all come unstuck. Because we are all emotional beings, sensitive to the partialities of others, we are all prone to being hurt and, therefore, to hurting others because of our reactions.


Understanding this is the key. When we are expectant of hurts—for they will come—we empower the awareness of our higher minds. As the inbounding hurt arrives we are then able to pause just long enough to prevent a reptilian response—that is the flash of reaction that just initiates regret.


When we understand that others are just as easily hurt as we are—and that we have more in common with others than we realise—it’s easier to be gracious. Besides, what a blessing it is, personally, to prefer empathy as the mode for considering others; trying to understand the challenges of other people can only help us love them better, and it affirms us as well.


***


For all the problems we have making life work, fitting in with the world, and feeling comfortable in our own skin, and even enjoying a modicum of success along the way, we can distil these down to love.


Our life problems are based in maladaptive relationships. Faulty concepts of God, struggles with our own identities, and conflict in our other relationships; these are what makes life hard.


Focusing on love—studying it, meditating over it, and applying it; never giving up—is the simplest and most effective personal vision and mission. This alone will deliver our best chance at truly enjoying life.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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