My spiritual journey with Jesus has allowed me to learn a secret about true love and in this post I want to share it with you. I ask for your patience as I reflect on my journey with Jesus over the last seventeen years.
Let’s begin with the truth about TRUE LOVE:
The love of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is true love. It is a love born of divine sacrifice and selflessness and it reflects God’s deep desire to save us, to live in us, to enable us to accomplish our human potential and to live eternally with us in His home called Paradise.
God calls each of us to imitate the true love of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. One might say ‘that’s impossible’ and indeed if our desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus is all about ‘human capacity’ we will fail. Only the very power and Holy Spirit of God can enable us to truly love. True love is the love that gives everything, hopes everything and never stops yearning for reciprocity.
‘Unrequited love’ is a love that is not reciprocal. So often that is the tragedy of God loving His people and longing for His people and that longing and love not being reciprocated.
Let me tell you about the secret I learned over the course of more than a decade.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
The word ‘deny’ can conjure up images of a thirsty person struggling and suffering but that’s not the type of denial Jesus is speaking about. In fact the type of denial Jesus is asking for is the very thing that enables us to be capable of true love.
Consider this picture:
Imagine a beautiful, precious cup full of toxic liquid. Although the cup is beautiful and precious, it is now rendered useless as a cup to drink from unless two important things happen:
- The cup must be EMPTIED
- The cup must be CLEANED
So often our lives and our hearts and minds are full of ‘toxicity’ and we don’t even realize it.
When I was a young woman I had a ‘passion for fashion’. I used to justify this love of clothes telling myself I was ‘dressing for success’. I spent many a Saturday mornings indulging my ‘passion for fashion’ by shopping for new clothes.
Then something happened! I began to feel empty and unfulfilled. I had accomplished some of my career goals and I was told I had ‘executive potential’ and I should look forward to being promoted. Then one day God intervened and gave me an extraordinary grace.
I heard God’s voice in my heart asking me “What is love?”
I was scared and I answered “Love is a feeling”
To this God said, in a quiet, gentle voice, “wrong”
So I asked “What is it then?”
And God said “Love is a choice”
The rest of the conversation occurred without words. I realized God was calling me to look at the choices in my life. Only choices that pleased God could be called ‘Love’.
This conversation changed my life. After this happened, I realized I need to return to Church and confess my sins, so I did. I confessed and repented of my sins (Receiving the Sacrament of Confession) and I returned to Mass to receive the Holy Eucharist. Hearing the Scriptures in Church made me long to learn God’s Word.
So I gave up my Saturday morning shopping expeditions to take a free class offered by Christians on “Learning the Bible”.
God did many things to remove my spiritual blindness. I realized I was focusing on a definition of success that was all about ‘material success’. I was investing in ‘external measures of beauty’, but God wanted me to learn about ‘internal beauty’.
God began to empty me of ‘toxic passion’ as He purified me of my sins. I wanted to use my skills in marketing and communications to help God so with the support of my husband I left the business world in search of something in the humanitarian sector. For the first time in my life I had the great privilege of spending some truly quality time alone with God.
That time alone with Him went on for many years and instead of reentering the work force in a not-for-profit venture I became an evangelist and shared God’s Word and my spiritual journey with whoever wanted to listen. I still marvel over how God connected me with people all over the world, over 19 million times over the last ten years.
So here’s the mystery that I learned:
The more I denied myself, the more Jesus indulged me with His Love.
The more I made room for Him the more peaceful and calm I became.
THE MYSTERY IS THIS: SELF-DENIAL IS THE KEY TO DIVINE INDULGENCE!
Like the cup filled with toxicity, Jesus helped me to detach from the things that didn’t matter as He connected me to the things that did matter.
Finding the right path with God doesn’t necessarily entail a career change or a loss of income, but in my case it involved both. With the financial support of my husband we didn’t suffer hardship and I changed slowly but surely. One day my teenage daughter said, “Mom you have lost your sense of style. Look at your socks! They don’t even match!” I laughed as I realized that God had quietly purged me of my ‘passion for fashion’ as I fell more and more in love with Him!
I was lost in sensual superficiality and I needed God to ground me in His Truth and show me His Way. As human beings we tend to equate ‘passion’ with sensuality but the word “passion” comes from the Latin word “pati” which means to suffer.
When we figure out what we are truly willing to suffer for then we will discover our TRUE PASSION.
God IS PASSIONATE ABOUT HIS PEOPLE!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16
Jesus gave His life for us so that we could become precious, beautiful vessels of His love—empty of arrogance and superficial attachments, purified of our sins by the greatness of God’s love and sacrifice.
If we want to be capable of TRUE LOVE then we must invite Jesus into our hearts. We must surrender to His tender, compassionate love and allow Him to fill our hearts and minds with His Holy inspiration as spoken in His Holy Word.
If we surrender and trust in Jesus, we will discover the meaning of TRUE LOVE.
TRUE LOVE is…
TRUE LOVE IS SELFLESS: It doesn’t ask ‘what’s in it for me’; it asks ‘how can I serve God and my fellow man’. “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24
TRUE LOVE IS HUMBLE: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2: 3-4
TRUE LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL: It gives without consideration of the cost. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
TRUE LOVE PERSEVERES: TRUE LOVE NEVER GIVES UP! God does not tire of forgiving us or helping us so long as we are truly trying to follow Him and honour Him. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
TRUE LOVE IS CHARITABLE: True love is always looking to help the less fortunate. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17
TRUE LOVE FORGIVES: God is always ready to forgive us and He expects us to forgive in return. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
TRUE LOVE DOES NOT JUDGE: We live in a world with too much discrimination. There is gender discrimination, racial discrimination, religious discrimination and so on. But God looks at the heart and He knows us. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3: 27-28 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
TRUE LOVE IS GENUINE AND DOES NOT LIE: Truth is a foundation for true love. True love must be genuine and authentic. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3: 8-10
TRUE LOVE IS FULL OF GRATITUDE: True love must always say ‘thank you!’ We must say thank you to God and thank you to all those that are helping us in our life journey. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
TRUE LOVE PRAYS WITHOUT CEASING: Prayer is our lifeline to God and it must be continuous. We must pray for those that we love and for those that have hurt us. We must especially pray for God’s enemies, people of violence, murderers, terrorists, etc. “Never stop praying.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
TRUE LOVE IS JUST: We must respect the sanctity of life, protecting the environment and all God’s creatures (human beings and animals). We must work to ensure the precious right of each person to live without oppression and threats of violence. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Let us pray…
“Holy Lord thank You for loving us so much that You would die for us. Help us to follow You and imitate You. Empty us of all the things that separate us from Your love and purify us and strengthen us through Your infinite mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Jesus to enable us to become people capable of True Love. We love You! We Need You! We hold You in our hearts Jesus now and forever!”
Please learn more about the peace movement that is giving glory to God by uniting Christians in a daily remembrance of the Passion of Christ here.