Thursday, June 28, 2012


I once had a friend who grew to be very close to me. Once when we were
sitting at the edge of a swimming pool, she filled the palm of her hand with
some water and held it before me, and said this:
"You see this water carefully contained on my hand? It symbolizes Love."
This was how I saw it: As long as you keep your hand caring open and allow
it to remain there, it will always be there. However, if you attempt to
close your fingers round it and try to posses it, it will spill through the
first cracks it finds.
This is the greatest mistake that people do when they meet love...they try                    
to posses it, they  demand, they expect... and just like the water spilling
out of your hand, love will retrieve from you .
For love is meant to be free, you cannot change its nature. If there are
people you love, allow them to be free beings.                                                               
Give and don't expect,
Advise, but don't order.
Ask, but never demand.
It might sound simple, but it is a lesson that may take a lifetime to truly
practice. It is the secret to true love. To truly practice it, you must                
sincerely feel no expectations from those who you love, and yet an
unconditional caring."
Passing thought... Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take;
but by the moments that take our breath away.....


Actions Affect Feelings

The power of Love


Les Brown, an Emergency Technician, was driving home from a busy day at work when he heard an emergency call on his car radio scanner. A child was choking and in need of immediate help.
The police dispatched a rescue squad but Les, realizing he was only a few blocks away, knew that he could get there sooner. He radioed the police to tell them that he was also on the way. When he tried to exit the freeway, he couldn't. A large caterpillar tractor had dug a deep trench right across the exit.
Les pulled to the side, jumped from his car and yelled to the tractor driver, "There's a baby in trouble down the street. I have to get there urgently!"
Immediately, the man filled in a large part of the trench he'd spent all day digging, packed the fill down and waved Les across. Les rushed to where the call came from. There he found a frantic mother waiting for help to arrive. The baby she was holding had turned purple. Les grabbed the child, put him over his knee and carefully hit him on the back and out popped a button from his mouth. Much to the mother's relief, the child breathed again.
On the way home the following evening Les noticed the tractor working at the same exit so he pulled over to tell the driver what had happened. When the man saw him, he jumped from his tractor and this time he yelled to Les, "The baby you saved yesterday ... That was my baby! Mine! Mine!"
Here we see genuine love in action and such love has many facets. In the powerful words of Scripture, it is patient, thoughtful, kind and forgiving. It isn't jealous, proud, boasting, self-seeking, rude or easily angered. Nor does it keep a record of wrongs. "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It never fails."1
This kind of love cares, commits, communicates and has compassion—all of which include involvement—and makes life worthwhile. Without this kind of love we may exist, but we cannot live life to the full.


To wait–the phrase is tantamount to torture for me. Few trials elicit more anguish than longing for something, only to have its fulfillment impeded. Even the Psalmist states that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." Ever been dehydrated to the point of wanting to pay a ridiculous price for some cool libation? How about needing to be somewhere in a hurry only to find yourself behind a driver who feels it’s their civic duty to meander slower than the speed limit? Have you ever fallen in love and yearned to have your feelings reciprocated? To thirst, yearn, and desire all have the quality of hoping for something just beyond our reach. Often, I’d prefer to be pro-active–trying to avert the uncomfortable tension of an anticipatory situation. So I play "dodge the slowpokes" at the grocery store by detecting the fastest bagger and checkout clerk, only to be derailed by a customer who wants to write a check or has an item with no price.

Now, waiting has similarities to being suspended in motion and that is not always a bad thing. I like to rest and the thought of a lazy afternoon relaxing in a hammock with a cool glass of iced tea and a good book with no interruptions is something akin to heaven. Rest without anticipation leads to relaxation and eventual sleep. But waiting by its very nature requires rest with expectation, alertness and availability. This is where we must embrace the "want" of the desire and the tension of fulfillment’s "not yet." Now, couple the word "wait" with the phrase "for love" and we have upped the ante. "To wait for love" is a wager that leaves us feeling vulnerable, anxious and exposed. It is similar to an actor who delivers a well rehearsed punch line and pauses for the audience's reaction–the perspiring palms and breathless seconds seem like hours. The more we hope by opening ourselves to the vulnerability of waiting with anticipation, the riskier life gets. Waiting for another to move towards us only increases the spacious tension as we are unable to define its consummation. Unlike movies with happy endings, like Ginger Rogers gracefully swirling across the room, and the debonair Fred Astaire stopping in motion, waiting with baited breath, arms open and a body poised to receive his partner again, life is much more open ended and disappointing. To avoid the anxiety and pain, often, we play it safe cocooned in layers of self-protection–distancing ourselves from wanting, hoping and being available for love.

We generally dislike waiting, but we are far more terrified of love offered without apparent reason and no compensation expected. Yet, love is what our hearts long for the most. At first glance it seems unthinkable and ridiculous. However, acts of love can seem more disconcerting than reaffirming when we are caught off guard by an unexpected gift, public recognition or a surprise birthday party. Our terror lies in the sense of being exposed--warts and all, while being embraced at the same time with no reciprocal acts to hide behind. It is not uncommon to hear someone say,"I died a thousand deaths when I was publically recognized." We like manageable love which can be poured into a blender, emulsified and digested through a straw. But love by its very nature is mysterious, unsettling and extravagant. God’s love is no less and at times we grow weary and angry when His ways can’t be formularized, His unpredictability tamed and His abundance mercies coerced. Truly, we dislike love’s mystery, because we struggle containing and subduing it. Yet, when we domesticate our hunger for love, there is little delight in the reconstituted version. Compliments manipulated don’t fill the heart, in the same way that surprises hidden and discovered deflate the wonder and celebration. We live to keep our lives not too out of control. How sad that we miss what our heart longs for the most--extravagant and surprising love. Instead we supplement what our hearts long for the most with false loves which will deliver a minimal and dependable amount of pleasure with little exposure or delay.

False loves prevalent in our society today often come in the form of addictions. Though socially acceptable, workaholics, control freaks and people-pleasers suffer similar isolating and detrimental effects as addicts hooked on food, sex, alcohol or drugs. We substitute our hunger for love for more predictable, less risky imitations. Sexual addiction is known as an intimacy disorder and the cause has little to do with sex. It is driven by loneliness and anger that masks the hunger for nurturing and emotional connection. What makes any addiction so compelling is that by its very nature, it is always faithful to provide relief and escape from the harsh realities of life and the unreliability of human relationships.

One form of sexual addiction that is skyrocketing in both men and women is pornography. Found so readily over the Internet these days, it provides a secretive portal into the realm of sexual fantasy. A recent study among conservative, protestant Christian men and women reveal that 41% of men and 16% of women reported (during the past 12 months) watching an x-rated movie, visiting a club with nude or semi nude dancers, purchasing sexually explicit books and magazines, calling sex phone numbers and purchasing erotic devices and sex toys. Another survey among a conservative group of Christian men reported that 62% of the men struggle with pornography.

What makes pornography so insidious is its highly addictive nature. James L. McGaugh at the University of California in Irvine suggests that memories that occur at the time of arousal (including sexual) become "locked into the brain" and are difficult to erase. The degree of reinforcement is heightened when the image is associated with sexual arousal.

Those visual images that become ingrained in the psyche send a dehumanizing message about women as they are seen as objects to be used for men’s sexual pleasure, devoid of soul, thoughts or needs. Further propagated is the idea that it’s normal for men to have multiple sex partners as red-blooded males can’t help it. This has a diminishing effect on relational intimacy as again, men are taught to be self-focused and to take what is theirs, instead of desiring to be with their spouse, waiting for love by opening and revealing themselves, enjoying the pleasure and giving to the other person in a way that cares more for the other than for themselves.

Pornography creates isolation and a false sense of intimacy as images become less riskier to relate to than a real woman. Again, pornography conveys a false message that women are always ready and willing to meet their needs. Finally, porn often links sex and violence with the perverse message that a woman’s "no" means "yes" and that indeed women enjoy being violated. Sexual crimes are on the increase and Dr. Stanley Rachman’s studies have shown that male subjects can be conditioned into sexual deviants by being shown erotic pictures. And probably the saddest statistic is the increase in victimization of children. One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually molested before the age of eighteen, and 87% of molesters of girls and 77% molesters of boys use hardcore pornography. How can we not be disturbed by these figures?

Our congregations can begin to not only weep over what is so prevalent in our society, but also what is rampant in our own backyard--high percentages of Christians struggling with a secret pornography addiction. Dan Allender summarizes well pornography’s allure as it numbs our hunger for love with a counterfeit which avoids waiting for what our heart desires the most--love that comes to us mysteriously and unpredictably.

Why is that form of lust so difficult to overcome? Because it is the best alternative to satisfying our empty hearts without dependently bowing our knee before God. Changing it not only requires giving up something that has worked, to some degree, to fill our empty hearts, but it also necessitates embracing a God who invites us to experience what we deeply despise--brokenness, poverty, weakness, and dependency. In the face of a walk through the valley of the shadow of death, an addiction to pornography...seems like a lark in the park. Even if the lust is destructive and life-threatening it may be preferable to a God who calls us to love those who harm us and serve those who in fact are below us. True worship is too costly; creature worship is--at first, at least--less demanding...Paul says that deception and enslavement to all kinds of passions begin to melt in the light of the kindness and love of God (Titus 3:3-4). The brutal power of lust will not succumb to any force of the human will unless the heart is captured by the glory and tenderness of the gospel. As the good news of freedom from God's wrath increases our wonder, laughter, and passion to live, then the dark desire to possess, to consume, and to destroy will have less power in our lives. The joy of being forgiven, not only of behavior but also of the sin deep in our hearts, will increase our desire to love (Lk. 7:47). And an increase in a desire to love will deepen our desire to see beauty enhanced in everyone whom we have the pleasure and privilege to encounter. 

Why do we love?

In the 1947 song "Nature Boy," songwriter Eden Abhez posits, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return". Four years earlier, the psychologist Abraham Mas low published his book, "A Theory of Human Motivation," which included his famous hierarchy of needs. In the middle of this hierarchy, above physical needs like safety but below esoteric needs like self-esteem, lies our need for love and belonging -- the need to love and be loved in return.
While Abhez and Mas low may have disagreed exactly on how important love is to the human experience, both knew that love is one of the most crucial aspects of being human. Where Abhez was content to simply note its importance, Maslow included love as something humans are motivated to have or achieve. Love is a motivating goal for humans, and our behavior can be explained by our attempts to achieve this goal.
Research supported Maslow's hierarchy for decades. In 2005, a groundbreaking study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was published. The study, conducted jointly by researchers at three universities, found visual evidence that supports Maslow's view of love as motivation.
The human motivation system is linked to the reward system in the brain. Once we achieve a goal, the brain releases dopamine into a region of the reward system called the nucleus acumens. We experience this as a profound sense of pleasure and excitement -- the types of sensations one associates with the experience of romantic love.
In the 2005 study, researchers found that when 17 young participants were shown a photo of the person they loved, regions of the brain responsible for motivating and rewarding began to function. In other words, the study found that romantic love motivates people, and the motivation toward this goal -- loving and being loved -- is fueled by the brain's reward system.
The imaging also showed that while the emotional centers of the brain were active, no distinct pattern of emotions was followed. This finding counters the longstanding view that love is based in emotion; instead, it seems that love springs from our goal-seeking behavior and that the emotions we attach to it come second to our motivation.
But the question remains: Why do we love?


Self love forms the foundation of your single, most important relationship - that with yourself. The strength of all your other relationships is exactly equal to the strength of that foundation. To love yourself is not just a self-esteem boosting piece of advice. It is the prerequisite to truly loving others. The Golden Rule tells us to "love your neighbor as you love yourself". You are likely to have heard it many times, expressed in different ways, thinking it is about loving others. Look a little closer though, and you will find that at its very center is the command to love yourself.
The Mistaken Identity of Self Love: First, let us dispel some myths about what it means to love yourself. Self love is not about being arrogant or egotistical. It is not about  to determine if you are good enough. It is not about always putting yourself first at the expense of others. It is not about always getting your way. It is not about always winning. It is not about "only looking after number one".
Will the Real Self Love Please Stand Up? To love yourself is to be in awe of the miracle of your existence. It is to accept yourself as you are - the "light" parts and the "dark", the "good" and the "bad" - while knowing that the real you is above the perceived dualities of the physical realm. It is to be willing to receive as much as you are willing to give and do both equally. It is about knowing your values and your boundaries and honoring them. It is about teaching others how to treat you by showing them how you treat yourself. It is about being kind to yourself. It is about looking after your mind, your body and your spirit; all three. It is about knowing you are worth it, not because of what you have achieved or what you look like or what others think of you, but because love is your birthright no matter what.

What Do You Most Need to Hear? Take a moment to think of those things you most need to hear from others. Whether it be that they love you, admire you, accept you just as you are, appreciate you, forgive you or anything else. Take a piece of paper and write them down. Make sure to exhaust your list. You will find that what you most want to hear from others is what you most need to tell yourself. You should now have a list of positive affirmations tailor made for you. Repeat them every day, morning and night and include them in your You will soon enjoy a sense of self love and inner peace that you never had before.
You Can Only Give That Which You Have: It is an obvious statement that you cannot give something that you do not possess, yet so many people desperately love others without having or giving love to themselves. It is little wonder that in time their reserves of love are exhausted and their relationships falter. To give love, you must first have love. To have love, love yourself. Only then will you be able to truly love others for the pure joy of loving them. Give the love you wish to experience to yourself and you will find all your relationships transforming in miraculous ways.
There is a Single Source of All Love: There is a single, intelligent Consciousness that pervades the entire Universe - all knowing, all powerful, all loving, all creative and present everywhere at the same time. Through all of history this Single Consciousness has been revered by many names. God, the All, Brahman, to name but a few. It is the Source of All Love. It is Love. When you know and understand the truth that you are one with the One Source of All Love - that your very essence is love - then you will have discovered unconditional love for yourself and unlimited reserves for everyone and everything. You will know that to love yourself is to love the One Creator.
The Benefits of Self Love: Loving yourself is a win-win for all. It provides you with an inner happiness, confidence and peace of mind that is not easily swayed by outside events and opinions. It enables you to make healthier choices and the best decisions across all areas of your life from your intimate relationships to your finances. It allows you to truly rejoice in other people's good fortune rather than wondering "why, not me" or even resenting it. It enables you to be more genuinely loving towards others and to be of greater service to the world at large. Ultimately, the more you love yourself, the more everything and everyone you encounter benefits.
"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself,as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
In a nutshell, self love is a prerequisite to loving others. Your relationships are only as strong as the foundation of your self love. Release any belief you may hold that loving yourself is selfish or egotistical and replace it with the truth that your very essence is love, that unconditional self love is your birthright. When you know that you are one with the One Source of All Love, that you are connected to every thing and every one, you will know that you cannot possibly experience true love without first loving yourself. You will have discovered the truth that self love truly is the greatest love of all.