How to Be Loved
My 2014 goal is ‘Be Loved’. This year, I want to live under, in and through God’s love.
I want to accept it, as a gift. I want to rest on its abundance.
I don’t want to live another year pretending like I don’t need love. I know what that’s like. It has all the desperate stress of living a lie, since, of course, it is a lie. You say, “I’m fine,” even when you’re not. You hide joy, even when you feel it. Not too high; not too low. You don’t want to be perceived as ‘needy’. Except that you are.
I don’t want to live another year trying to manufacture love either. I know what that’s like too. You have to keep coming up with schemes that make you into somebody. The theory here is that if you are a somebody, then people will have to love you. To get the affirmation you crave, you have to impress people with what you know, what you’ve done or how witty you are. The problem is that the manufactured love and respect is never enough and almost always involves some sort of emotional prostitution. So whatever respect you squeeze out of them, you proportionality lose for yourself.
So there I am. I need love – immense volumes of it. I can’t successfully pretend otherwise. And I can’t make people love me. What do I do? How do I get the love I need?
One answer to that question is that there is nothing you can do. Love is a gift. You can’t make someone love you. Either they do or they don’t. You can’t make God love you. Either He does or He doesn’t. It is His choice. This situation leaves you powerless. The thing you have the least control of is the thing you need the most. No wonder people are insecure.
The other answer to the question of ‘How to get the love you need’ is a little more practical. Since love is a gift, then you ask for it. Still, if the other person doesn’t want to give, then asking does no good. But what if the other person is God? Well then, asking does something very profound. It opens you up. It empties your hands. You aren’t bringing something to bargain with, you are admitting your dependence. And that humility makes you able to receive that grace that is there. Ask and you will receive.
There is one more thing you can do. It is a kind of opening up too. Jesus tells us, “If you keep my commandments – you will abide in my love.” John 15.10. At first this looks like earning love. As if God is saying, “Do what I say and then I will love you.” But the context of this verse is about living in God like a branch lives in a vine. The commandment that He is talking about is to pass along God’s love. Be like the branch that blossoms from the supply of the vine. Jesus is saying, “If you pass along the love you have, then more will come.” So the way you get the love you need is to give away the love you have.
So this year, I know how to be loved:
1) I will ask God to love me. I mean really ask Him. On a walk. In the car. During an argument. Out loud. Under my breath. When I am good. When I don’t deserve it.
2) I will gamble on God’s love – that there is more where that came from. I will love on account of the word of Christ that loving makes room for more love – fresh from the roots of grace.
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Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Roger teaches and leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.