It’s in our nature to love and be loved. Love should come as naturally as breathing. Yet, it seems that love is one of the hardest concepts to grab hold of. We think we are in love, or we think that someone loves us, because they pay attention to us, accept us, admire us, treat us with affection, or lust after our bodies. We substitute alcohol, drugs, success, power, and food for love, because these things stimulate our senses in much the same way. They are feel-goods that replace the love we lack. Addictions develop because the state of euphoria is temporary, and we’re compelled to get additional boosts of this perceived ‘happiness.’
Why don’t we all experience love as we should? Why does it elude so many of us? The reason is that love must be learned. Wait a minute! Didn’t I just say that it is in our nature to love? Yes, love is a need that must be quenched. We hunger for a loving relationship just as our bodies hunger for food. However,‘how to love’, like other skills, is learned.
From infancy to the day we die we are being tutored in the art of loving. We get our first taste of love from our primary caretakers. If the people who were responsible for our well-being did not show us affection and love, it is very likely that we can’t show it either. Very often, we end up imitating the very things we hate, and keep perpetuating the dysfunction. As children, we don’t have a base of comparison, or the knowledge to figure these things out. All we care about at this early stage in life is not being rejected by the people we depend upon for our welfare. It is a sad fact that some of our initial tutors were not equipped to teach us more than basic survival skills. But, honestly, how can anyone give what they do not possess?
Let’s try to understand that our care takers had tutors too. This will help us to forgive them for what they neglected to do for us. As far as learning is concerned, there are two types of pupils in this world: those who watch people and learn what to do. And those who watch people and learn what not to do. Which type are you? Think back. Who initially taught you to love as you do? Who reinforced your idea of what love should be? Do you consider yourself to be a skilled lover? No, I don’t mean in the sexual sense, but in the way that really matters. Are you able to form intimate, lasting bonds that make your life more enjoyable? Or are your relationships shallow, fleeting and full of turmoil? Have you ever wondered why some people have good, solid relationships and others do not? There a reason…and there is a solution.
We’re all products of our past. A lesson is learned in each situation we experience, and without realizing it, mind-sets and habits develop along the way. There is an automatic, sub-conscious, process that stores our feelings of every event within our memory bank; everything experienced goes into our brain and gets deposited in its own little vault. These function as ‘background programs’. Unfortunately, many of our experiences were thought to be something they were not, and consequently, they got mislabeled. Faulty perceptions color our world, because our outlook on everything is based on what has happened to us. We are myopic; unable (and sometimes unwilling) to distinguish anything beyond the scope of our personal experience. When our perceptions get warped our ‘choice making’ capacity suffers. We pick the wrong friends, the wrong life partners, the wrong occupations and end up traveling down the wrong roads. How has your view point worked for you so far?
Before anything can change for the better, it is important to realize that we are responsible for most of the problems we face. So, if you want something you’ve never had, then you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. Are you willing to take a good hard look inside yourself to make that happen? That means tossing out some wrong ideas and replacing them with the right ones, and there is only one source for finding out what is right.
Scripture says we should be like little children who trust and draw near to their Father for what they need. Seeking to know what God expects of us, and what we can expect of Him, is one of the most important steps to changing our lives for the better.
Everything starts and ends with God. He is the One who formed us and gave us life…He is our true Father. It is a simple matter to determine the nature of true love when we understand that the nature of God is love. When we realize who God is, who He says we are, and how valuable we are to Him, we can begin to think differently about ourselves and the way we relate to people. Using God and Christ as our examples, we can determine how love should be expressed. We are to imitate the ways of Christ who was sent to be our Teacher.