I remember the first time I heard that question. I was in an inner healing class and I thought “what a strange question”. For me what came next was even stranger “If you have to do anything to be loved, it’s not love. True love is accepting a person just as they are.” Say what??? My perfectionist, performance-based belief system at that time was definitely screaming “does not compute, does not compute”!
At this point you may be thinking this blog is supposed to be about unconditional hope rather than unconditional love. Well, what could be more hopeful than to know that there is absolutely nothing you need to do to be loved?
We all want to be loved. We all need to be loved. But sometimes we just get a little messed up in receiving and conveying love. I guess you could say I’m stuck on this whole people don’t want to be fixed, they want to be loved truth. It’s really changing my world as I tie it together with “if you have to do anything to be loved, it’s not love”.
Here’s what it looked like for me when I first honestly answered the question “How do I say I love you”. It took me several days before I could even articulate what I did mean when I said “I love you”. Finally revelation came: I will DO anything for you. Not such a bad thing until you realize the reciprocal of that is “what do I have to do for you to love me”? The only place that question leads is to exhaustion. Why? Because that question can’t be answered just once, it has to be answered every time you want to be loved by anyone. That’s a lot of work. Don’t know about you, but it wasn’t working so well for me!
I had a choice. I could continue with my paradigm of “doing” to love others or be loved myself; or, I could come out of agreement with that paradigm and agree with the truth that Jesus loved/loves me just the way I am, period. Accept that love and be permeated with that love to the point that it overflows to those around me.
I chose the latter.
It was like my ears were opened to hear things I could never hear before from the people in my life. I discovered people say I love you in many different ways, but I’d missed it because I’d been too focused on trying to figure out what they wanted from me in order to love me.
- Let me help you with that. Original translation = you think I am inept. New translation = I love you.
- Do you need a sweater? Original translation = how dumb do you think I am? New translation = I love you.
- Are you sure you should (fill in the blank) Original translation = you think I don’t have a clue. New translation = I love you.
- Are you trying to do too much? Original translation = you don’t think I’ve got what it takes to be successful at this. New translation = I love you.
- How do you feel? Old translation = Why do you ask? Aren’t I living up to your expectations. Am I being a burden to you? (anyone that has lived with chronic illness knows what I’m talking about here.) New translation = I love you.
- I’m worried about you. Old translation = you doubt me and my choices. New translation = I love you.
How do you hear those around you?
Would you like to be able to relax and to bask in being loved? Good news. You can.
All those trials and tribulations in your life – they do not define whether or not you are loved. But the enemy would like to convince you they do. That’s why Jesus told his disciples and us “In this world you will have trials and tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). I’d always pigeon-holed this to: Jesus has beaten death. No small feat indeed; but it’s even more than that.
A more literal translation from the Greek of “overcome the world” = conquered the kosmos, the universe, the heavens. That pretty much covers everything and anything you or I could come up against to separate us from God’s love. It covers everything on this planet and between us and eternity; the seen and unseen; flesh and blood; powers and principalities. That’s how Jesus said “I love you”. I accept you, just the way you are. We didn’t have to do a thing for Jesus to love us intensely enough to make the choice to go to the cross (he had a free will too, so it was a choice). He said yes to whatever it takes – humiliation, degradation, mutilation, rejection, physical agony, death — so that He could spend eternity with us. That’s a pretty big I LOVE YOU!
With love like that on my side, the future looks pretty bright. Care to join me in the spotlight of His love?