"My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there's something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves."1 John 3:18-20 (The Message)
I love love.
There is nothing I adore more than showering the people close to me with love in whatever shape, size or form. I also enjoy loving mean people into being, albeit very rare, still very fulfilling.
There's just something about loving someone beyond yourself that excites me and makes me want to celebrate.
That being said, I have never really thought about the other side of love. The part where I allow others to peel away my layers and see me as me and for a reason entirely shocking to me -- love me for me.
Because of certain fears and numerous rejections in the past, I have learned to put up ridiculously high walls and have perfected the art of pushing people away the moment they see me vulnerable.
And by love, I don't mean the love we see on our social networking sites 24/7 but the kind of love Jesus himself displayed here on earth.
It is the kind of love that isn't based on the superficial but rather the kind of love Jesus would have wanted you to display every single day -- raw, messy and unnerving and yet, relentless.
I always have this fear (surprise, surprise) that when people begin to see the real, dorky me, they would all run away so I omit things or run away or stay comfortably within the fort I have constructed in the past six years. Nobody is allowed inside the fort (unless you're Sheldon or Manny or Ted), the fort is sacred.
I thought that loving people without expecting anything in return is good enough. That I could go on merrily into the days of my life without being bothered because I have expected this simple fact.
However, what I didn't realize is that part of loving people is allowing them to love you too -- because Jesus isn't selfish, he doesn't demand for us to give everything and never get anything back. He has promised that as we give. the more we live because He fills us with himself.
I guess I read it and I heard it but never really understood what he meant. In a way, I have underestimated Jesus and His power to bring in people in my life who would love me for me -- the way He does.
Again, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Truth is, being scared to let people in may say a thing or two about how I reflect on Jesus' love for me.
A love so powerful and so unselfish that it brought him to earth to hang on the cross for things he did not do just so I can live a life away from the horrific is astounding enough for me.
But for Him to love me despite my nuisances and when all the layers are peeled away, like those times when i'm alone in my room, all cried out or when I finish off an entire bag of Reese's Minis and later on deny it or when I feel utterly unlovable because I did something so shameful I can't even mention it -- is just mind blowing.
This kind of love is so big and so huge that there are days when I try to sweep it under the rug because that kind of love in the world today is so unimaginable that it can't be real but is.
Believe me, I've wrestled with it. My pride tells me I could never, ever deserve so I might as well not accept it.
But that's why Jesus came. He came for each and every one of us and no matter how many times we push away his hands that offer to wipe our tears away and hug us until we're okay again, He won't go away -- ever.
Once we've set our eyes on Jesus, we might as well accept the fact that we are loved forever.
We never did anything to cause Jesus to love us, so at the same time, we could also never do anything to make Him stop loving us.
And in the world today, I have encountered people who have left the moment the saw the real me and I have lost faith that real people will stay despite my innate need to push everyone away. I never once thought that I was worthy enough to be loved like that so I'd rather not try or give anyone a chance.
But you know what, that means I have underestimated Jesus and His power to work through the people who loves him radically. I have forgotten that the Jesus who loves me this much also has the power to bring in people who would love me the way He does. That love is not limited to just loving the unlovable, but loving myself as well because when love for myself is depleted it would be really difficult to love others without expectation.
It's really a cycle -- all connected.
Once I truly accept with question that Jesus loves me and that His love is mine for all eternity, I will learn to relax a bit and maybe one by one, the walls of my fort will come down and I'll start letting people, no matter how difficult it may be at first.
That maybe I should not longer give in to fear, but instead trust that Jesus knows what He is doing and that maybe my future relationships will make up for all the sad ones I've lost in the past.
That as I allow the love of Jesus to truly heal me, I begin to love the messy parts of myself a little bit more and trust that in the process, Jesus will send people who will love me not just for the part that I show them but also for the me that is both unstable and a bit neurotic.
I believe that as I continue to bask in the truth of Jesus, He will send relationships that will leave me secure and not the opposite. And that because of this love, the fort will be long gone with nothing left except relics of how I used to be and how far I've come.
And because of that, it does feel like a brand new day.
Special thanks to a friend who reminded me that fear is basically just that-- fear :)