I grew up singing that song, being assured that God loves me, my parents love me, my church loves me.
We learn the definition of love by experiencing it.
So when a child hears, "God loves you!" and also learns that God commanded people who didn't believe in Him to be killed, a child learns that love is conditional and harsh.
When a child hears, "Mommy/Daddy loves you," and then is struck repeatedly after some wrong-doing, a child learns that love is painful.
When a child hears, "Your Sunday School teacher loves you," and then is treated to harsh words or eye-rolling for not moving quickly enough (or for moving too much) to suit the grown up, a child learns that love is impatient.
When a child hears, "Your pastor loves you," and hears him bragging about all he has done and why the church owes him unquestioning allegiance, a child learns that love is boastful and arrogant.
When a child hears, "I love you," but then is met with a laundry list of failures, a child learns that love holds grudges.
When a child hears "I love you," followed at some point by disbelief toward the child's expression of feelings or a cry for help, a child learns that love is suspicious.
When a child hears, "I love you," but then has affection withdrawn from him when his behavior does not meet with the approval of the adult, a child learns that love gives up easily.
When a child hears, "I love you," but cannot be honest with his parents for fear of a reaction, a child learns that love is not interested in truth.
When a child hears about love, but is then shown the opposite, is it any wonder that child does not desire a deeper relationship with her parents or develops a fear of God?
Contrast that with God's definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, because God is Love, you could replace the word love with God to get a more accurate picture of the Divine.
|Love is patient, love is kind. |
Love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud.
|Love is not rude, love is not self-seeking, love is not easily angered, love keeps no record of wrongs.|
|Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.|
|Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.|
Love never fails.
True love is more than affection and doesn't always come easily for me. I daresay, true love doesn't come easily for most people, considering how poorly love is shown to us and others.
I have found that the reiki principles are basically a condensed version of how to express love. In addition to reading and trying to live the definition of love written in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, I have also begun meditating on the following:
How much better could we be as people, as parents, friends, and community members if we stopped talking love and walking hate? How much good could we accomplish by living in an authentically loving way? How much radical change could we effect by ceasing to call hatred love and showing our world what love really means?
I intend to find out. Will you join me?