Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness can’t drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can’t drive out hate; only LOVE can do that.” Join us today for a discussion on love. While love is always needed, always in style, now more than ever in our crazy and torn world, we need to talk about love. We need to share stories about love.
Stories are our lives in language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you, the listener, ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Power serves you best when you know how to use it.
Last week we heard from Marvin Cassler – a man who is creating a crazy, out-of-the-box story, just exactly the way he wants it to be. Listen to that episode to see an example of someone who knows how to purposefully write his very own story. This week we’re going to delve into the topic of love. I’ll be honest, writing this podcast stresses me out because love is my favorite topic. It’s my favorite because it’s the answer to everything. It’s one of the things that I really, really believe in and that I’m always trying to do better. So this podcast needs to be good. No, it needs to be great, and that type of pressure makes me want to walk away for fear that I cannot do it justice. I probably can’t, but because it’s important, let’s talk about it, and let’s roll around in some love.
In the book Lost in Translation it says, “Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. This is a fact of daily experience.”
This daily experience makes Love a loaded word. Meanings implied and created from media, from nurture, from experience. It is the thing we crave more than anything else and it is often one of the most difficult things we engage in. It provides the utmost joy and the utmost pain. A few have had real transcendental experiences where they were filled with the love of God and actually know what that feels like, an elixir they’ll do anything to get more of, but most of us look to one another, a bunch of other imperfect people, who are also looking for love, and then in the mess, everyone tries to feel and be filled. It is the burnished space of this hunger that we all function from, often looking for someone to fill us so we can reciprocate, but this is a fool’s errand. Love begets love. Hunger does not beget love. There are many facets on the diamond of love. Love of a parent is different than love for a friend, which is different than love for a lover. There is the mature choice to love a person when the hunger transitions into familiarity. Love for mankind because of our connection, love of chocolate, love of a dear pet.
When Christ was asked, in the New Testament, what the most important commandment was, he explained that the first commandment was to love God and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. I don’t know about you, but I’m often thinking about how things will affect me and my family before I consider how it’s going to affect the guy next door. Of course, when the term “neighbor” is used, Christ was referring to all around us – to our other fellow humans here riding this rock around the sun. The older I’ve gotten and the more I practice this, the better I get at thinking win/win for everyone. Coming from a place of love and acceptance without judgment, but it’s something I’m always trying to do a little better. When someone on Facebook really irritates me it’s easy to pass quick judgment. I have to stop and remind myself to love. When I want that parking spot that’s close to the front door and I can make it in before the other person vying for the spot – well, last week I had to make the conscious decision to let the guy who had his blinker on first take the spot, when I could have snaked it. I know, small, but it’s these small daily decisions that define how we live. The other day a friend on FB was really lashing out politically. His content was negative, fearful and attacking. I decided I was just going to more or less because he was really broiled in a nasty swirl I didn’t want anything to do with, but then I was taught a lesson by another joint friend who called him, reached out and showed love instead of frustration and judgment. I learned from her example. From the very mouth of Christ, we are taught that love is the most important thing we can do while we are here. But let me take it a step further. Charity, which is often interpreted to mean giving something to help someone else – like taking someone dinner when they are sick, or giving a dollar to a beggar, is actually much more than that. Charity is the PURE LOVE of Christ. It is a love that fully encompasses us unconditionally. While this is understandably hard for us to do, we get to practice it and try to understand it because truly it is the basis for where we are whole, where others can be whole, where we heal, where we grow, where we become and how we can truly bless.
1 Corinthians 13 Paul clears everything else out of the way when he discusses the importance of love. It says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (pure love of Christ), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And, though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I have my body to be burned, and have not charity it profited me nothing.” Without Charity – which is the pure love of Christ—we are nothing. Not even if we have great spiritual gifts and faith enough to move mountains – those are powerful things! But without unconditional love for our fellow men, we are nothing. Clearly, real love, the best we can muster, trumps everything else. This is why it’s my favorite. When there are a hundred things I am supposed to be doing right, and I’m overwhelmed with the long list of great qualities I should possess, I just toss them aside and come back to love, because if I can get that one right I can figure out the moving mountains and speaking in tongues thing down the road—and besides, learning how to love is a pretty awesome thing all on its own.
We often think of love as a feeling. A feeling we either have or we don’t have. May I propose that love is not just a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s an action instead of a reaction. Often, when one thinks of love, they think of romantic love. The intensity, the perfection, the rush, the hope. Well, even romantic love gets real, sooner or later, and at that point, love becomes a choice. You choose to love a real person who sometimes irritates you. A person who isn’t always thoughtful. A person who can’t read your mind and address your every emotional need. At that point, when you see the warts and things get real, you choose to love them for who they are, or your don’t.
There is also an unconditional love that can be extended to those around us. I did an extended three month VIP emotional training course with 44 other people from around the country. When we started we didn’t know each other well. We got to work closely in groups, we got to know one another’s weaknesses and insecurities, we got to watch each other fail and succeed. Of course, in a group that size everyone isn’t going to like everyone. There are lots of personality types and there will always be a few folks that you’re going to want to strangle. There will be some folks that you don’t respect very much. There are likely to be a few that you would never interact with in your normal life. People with different belief systems, different levels of effective functioning, it was just people – in all their real and messy glory. Well, part of our motto was that we were looking to create win/win for everyone. No man left behind. We all had a voice, we all were responsible and we all got to play team. This means that I got to be in groups where I threw my hands in the air because I didn’t understand how this person or that person could be so low functioning. I got to resist writing others off, and I got to overcome the desire to ignore others for whom I could see no good coming from the interaction. It was a process, but by the end of that three months, I had learned to accept, love, and reign in judgment for every one of those beloved people. I learned to love. It wasn’t a feeling – it was a choice. It was a choice not to judge, it was a choice to look for strengths instead of weaknesses, it was a choice to allow greater diversity in thinking, life approaches, and personality types. It was lovely. It was powerful.
What does love look like? I took an informal survey – I asked people for a time they remembered feeling loved.
Michael said, “It was in the Fall of 1986. We sat in a Buick Skylark, and from the passenger seat, she looked at me and sang with the radio “and that’s why I love you”. And that’s why we should always show our true colors. I giggled at him and asked if he was serious. “Totally,” he said.
Michael’s a musician. Music has always been a language for him, and in this case, a language of love.
Mary said, I felt loved when my young husband learned, (in 1974) that I had dyslexia and struggled with keeping a check book and making change, and he was so kind. I hid it from him for years and when he finally found out, he was so kind and praised me for being so incredibly successful while hiding this seemingly impossible challenge. His understanding and support spoke love.
Constance said, “When my Dad passed away and my husband’s law enforcement brothers/sisters all showed up, even though none of them knew him. They did it just out of love and respect for us! Support translated into love.
Sally shared, “Last year after my husband passed, a lady in my church gave me a hug and asked if I were OK. She told me how important I was to the congregation and if I was sad they were all sad. This beautiful lady passed away two weeks ago but will always hold a dear place in my heart.” Her words – if you’re sad, we’re all sad, show a willingness to walk with the down-trodden, to share one another’s burdens—this is love in action.
In our crazy, chaotic world today there is a lot of active resistance to love because fear has become a huge dark cloud rolling over the United States, as well as the other countries for which the policies of the US have great effect. Now more than ever we need to release resistance. Return to love. Release old thought systems that don’t come from a place of love, and surrender to new ways of being. Surrender to love as often as possible, like Martin Luther King said, hate can’t drive out hate. Let love overcome fear.
I say this because fear is a real power. Fear generates hatred. It creates reaction. Fear stops the creation of connection; fear stops love. And there is a lot of fear going on right now in our country.
We all long for connection. Marvin Cassler talked about it in episode 23 – how on the trail or at the game as a Super Fan, the meaning was often found in the people he met. In episode 19 we talked about how vulnerability allows us to create connection with one another. In many episodes we’ve talked about fear and how important it is not to let it hold us back from becoming our best selves. Well, all of that rolls into a space we must stretch into, which is to try to understand people and cultures we are not familiar with, and to which we might have fear. In the interview with Lynne McNeill – episode 16, folklore professor at USU, we talked about how an outsider must listen to the stories of other cultures and peoples, other families, and groups of people before they can ever hope to understand where they come from. How important it is to be so very careful with allowing judgments to close off our hearts.
Well, I have some great news! Not one of us has to pass judgment on or decide on another’s worthiness. God has said, judge not that ye be not judged, and he’s also said NOTHING is more important than loving each other. How wonderful is that?! He’s taken the dirty job out of our hands and given us the job to find the beauty and light in each other. He’s told us to cultivate love and acceptance, even as we would have for ourselves.
We are all heroes finding our way through our story. At different times we each stumble, at different times we excel. But if we are there to give a hand, to bear one another’s burdens during the stumbling, and to celebrate with one another during the exultant times, we will move farther and faster and more joyfully together. And, thank God that you don’t need to be anyone’s judge and jury. Just their friend. It makes life a whole lot easier.
While Hollywood weaves tales of passion, and movie stars and sports heroes discard spouses as convenience and irritation dictate, our models for love are often terribly flawed. When children get to watch fathers and mothers and other models choose love, choose selflessness in caring for another, they then have options beyond the stories told in the tabloids and on the movie screen. I’m not suggesting that choosing love is always easy. It often is not. But I am saying it IS a choice to choose. To act rather than to react, and that is in your control. You don’t “feel” the love anymore? Our thoughts generate our feelings. It’s so hard to take that much responsibility sometimes, but if you’re not feeling the love, try extending love – finding genuine things to compliment your beloved, on non-beloved, on. Try appreciation. Try encouragement. Try understanding. Love creates love. Gentleness and support, selflessness and mercy go much farther than critical or condemning words. Keeping score how about who did what is more of a business move than a loving move. What if your beloved showed you mercy rather than insisted on justice. How would that make you feel? Can you extend that to another? What if your neighbor reserved judgment and extended genuine friendship and support? Can you do that?
It’s true that love is a balm and a roller coaster and a mountain to climb. Love is speed. Love is a calm day. Love is a choice. Love is an anthem for the soul, love is a hunger, a knife, a space of giving, of bravery, of opening. Love is the greatest work of the heart. Love is not for the weak or the cowardly. Love is God and God is love and you and I are part of this very stuff, and in a way are we not then just trying, day by day, to know our true selves better and in so doing see the face of God and know our neighbor, our lover, our child, our parent, our friend, a stranger?
Go out there and love someone today. Don’t wait for someone to love you – love them first. Love begets love! Get YOUR LOVE OUT INTO THE WORLD! Reserve judgment. Allow for other ways of thinking and being. Find the strengths in those around you, not the weakness. Extend mercy, appreciation, and maybe just sing a love song to someone. Because you can, because that’s your true colors!
See you next week on the love your story podcast. Have a good time creating some loving stories. And, please – go to www.loveyourstorypodcast and give us some feedback. We want to hear your thoughts and stories.