“Become a source of reception for love.”
Duh. It seems so simple, right?
But, how easy is this for you? Really think about it. How easy is it for you to receive love?
Often we are told to love others. You hear it all the time. Really, It’s great advice. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your enemies. You’ll make the world a better place by loving it, right? Of course.
There’s a catch. Yes, the world needs you to love, but how much you are able to love others hinges on one important factor.
What I’m referring to can be found in the words spoken by Jesus,
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before”, you might say. I have, too, but I missed something in that verse for most of my life. Every time I would read it in the past I would read, “Love your neighbor.”
What about the other half of that verse? Why did Jesus tell me to love my neighbor as myself? Why didn’t He say, “Love your neighbor as the Father loves them”? That makes more sense, right?
Maybe Jesus is trying to tell us something here. Maybe he’s saying that you can only love others to the extent that you love yourself. Whoa.
Back to that first statement. “Become a source of reception for love.” Why is it so important to be a source of reception of love? Because the more you can receive love, the more you can give it.
But, how much love can you receive? Here’s the thing: The only person limiting how much love you receive is you.
Why on earth would we limit how much love we receive? Well, it happens subtly. You see, to keep the heart open to love means to also keep it open to the possibility of pain. It’s the same place within us. When pain enters our lives, especially through traumatic experiences, we build up a defense against it. Pain hurts. In our efforts to protect ourselves from more pain, we unknowingly shield ourselves from also receiving love. Unresolved pain leads to shame, and shame hides us behind a wall of fear. Fear is the enemy of love. Once shame has taken hold, it calls the shots. Shame defines how you see yourself. It says you are bad. It says you are not worthy of love. It says that if you were to be found out, to be truly known, you would be rejected – you would be hurt even more.
“The lie that keeps people trapped in their fear is that there is no solution to pain.”
– Justin Stumvoll
Shame tells you there is no solution. But it’s a lie.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear” – 1 John 4:18
The solution is love.
Defeating shame starts with discovering your true identity. God is love, and we are made in His image. His image is love. For the sake of time, I won’t delve into the whole process of defeating shame. I recommend you check out Kris Vallotton’s blog, especially going here and here.
Once you’ve removed shame and its effects, you can let love in. Pain loses its sting. You start to see yourself through the eyes of God, that you were created with an immeasurable amount of love – love that the Father always had for you and never once took away. You learn who you really are, and begin to see people through the same eyes, with the same sense of valuable identity that they’ve been given.
When you see yourself the way the Father sees you, you can’t help but love who you see – a lot. Now, taking that kind of love for yourself…love your neighbor.
How much more love can we give our neighbor when we love ourselves like that?
So, get rid of shame. Become a source of reception of love. Be someone who can be loved extravagantly. Let love in. Then love others with the same love.
Your neighbor and yourself are two sides of the same coin. Love them both.