“How you love others is how you love God.” – Rob Bell
This quote stuck in my head this morning. It keeps spinning around between my ears making me dizzy.
I think he’s right, Jesus did say to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.
I try to take lessons like this to heart, to live them as well as I can.
Where this keeps catching me isn’t thinking about “others” as those people over there. It’s the people I am closest to. It is the people who have hurt me. It is what do you do if there’s a narcissist in your life? It is the word “how.” HOW do I love others?
How implies action. Not emotion. Not cognition. It is doing, living, being.
I know a lot of things love isn’t. It isn’t isolation. It isn’t addiction. It isn’t manipulation. It doesn’t come with strings. It isn’t judgmental. It is not rude or vindictive. It is not violent. It is not selfish.
How do I love my children? That’s easy enough to start with, I make sure their needs are met. They need basics, food, shelter, clothing, education, affection, attention. Now that they are starting to grow away from me, bit by bit, they need room for some freedom and independence. They need to be respected and valued for who they are they way God made them. They need the tools to learn and grow.
Is it that easy? That love is being kind and meeting needs? OK.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Not more than yourself. Not less than yourself. AS yourself. Equal to. The same as. Hmmm. That’s hard. And I’m a Libra, justice and balance and all that. I must value the needs of others the same as my own? Ouch. Good thing I believe in grace and mercy and not having to be perfect. It’s OK to fail, there will always be another chance. It’s OK to mess up, God will still be there.
The more I think about all this the harder it is to understand. I suppose in a perfect world we would all be following this ideal so we wouldn’t have to have boundaries and worries about being taken advantage of. But this isn’t a perfect world. There are cruel, mean people out there. Sometimes even friends and family are really hard to love.
How do I love a friend who is hurtful and pushes me away? How do I love a child who is rude and angry? How do I love a parent who serves money and status? Yikes. It is easy to love a friend who is helpful and kind. It is easy to love a child who is considerate and caring. It is easy to love a parent who is generous and gracious.
How do I love people from different cultures or countries? People with different lifestyles or world views?
HOW? “Love God with all your heart” is what the Bible says. Not half a heart. Not God and Money. Not God and Self.
Looks like I’ll be thinking on this for a long while to come.