|By Bernice Pipa|
It is a commandment second to only one. It reads, ...Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matt 22: 39 It is my father's favorite song. It was my favorite FHE lesson and scripture as a child.
Is love a feeling we are blessed with , the status of a relationship, or the action that displays it? Love is charity. My husband, Andy, said while we were dating, "You don't fall in love, you don't fall out of love, you choose to love." I believe that's true. Although each relationship is different in the expression of love, the essence is still the same. We find value in a person, and express it through thought, word, and deed.
Love is a capacity . It is as a vessel that can be filled, expanded, overflow. God IS Love; it is the nature of divinity to love and be loved. And possessing that nature as His children, it is our essence. By receiving from this infinite fountain of love, at the moment we share from our vessel it is replenished. We can cap it, however; limiting the love given and received. If we don't receive God's love, we cannot have faith in Him (because faith requires trust.)
Developing this capacity is cyclical. 1. We must first receive. Drink deeply from the fountain. 2. We must seek to share that love with others. A fire that is enclosed, is a fire that dwindles. 3. We must love self. Believe that we are worth the faith invested in us by a loving Father in heaven. We must treat ourselves with kindness and compassion.
Why love self? This is NOT selfishness. (Remember capping that love diminishes it.) Softened hearts are synonymous with having an open cap on the vessel. If we believe there is no reason that God would love us, we limit how much love we will receive from him; we restrict it. If we are self-loathing, we assume others think about us as we do; perceived disappointment. We then limit our second, indirect source of love; love from our family, friends, neighbors, and associates. If we judge our faults harshly, we find those similarities in others and judge them. When we do not accept love from others, we silently tell them their love isn't worth acceptable. Our ability to love self is equal to our ability to love others.
We each have a need for love, being God's children. If we are not filled with love, we will look to other sources for love. We become reliant upon others for our self-worth, justification, and love. Physical and mental addiction, abuse of self or others, excessive diversion (leaving a course to which God appointed us for a useless one/ virtual accomplishment.) We teach our children, by example how to shun love. Any act of reducing love is the result of pride; a division between us and anyone else. The result is devastating to family, community, self, eternal potential, and the glory of God.
Let us better seek an eternally satisfying course, love others, love self, and thus love God. For each soul that is loved can better love others.