Your starting point matters. When you begin with love, you change and the way you see others and the world. Everything else may stay the same, but the way you respond to it is vastly different when you begin with love.
Several years ago I went to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. One of the first displays was of two archeologists working on the same dig. The two pulled up similar material. They looked at the same earth. The examined the same relics, but they had very different personal views and therefore very different professional results. One man was an atheist and interpreted what he saw one way. The other man was a Christian and interpreted the same evidence completely differently.
To be honest, I am not sure what to think about the young earth theory and Creationism vs evolution. Creationism is a concept I would have scoffed at many years ago. Now, the Creation Museum and many other things I would have once thought impossible, make me wonder.
Wonder opens a world of previously unimaginable possibilities.
This is not a post debating creation and evolution, but the archeologists illustrate the certainty that how we approach life determines how we interpret, respond, think, and ultimately feel about it. Beginning with love makes a world of difference!
Where Did Love Go Wrong?
Most of us get beaten down over the years. We smile at a baby’s full belly laugh and small children dancing unselfconsciously, but run in the opposite direction if asked to do the same. We miss the creativity of childhood and long to dance through life uninhibited, but we cannot imagine ourselves that way because of the many forms of rejection we have faced including job loss, harsh or unjust criticism, infidelity, broken relationships, and more.
Rejection crushes the human spirit. It tempts us to put on a hard outer shell and withdraw turtle-style from the risk of showing our true selves. What is worse is that we tend to let these experiences spill into other aspects of our lives. We see rejection in one area as a reflection of who we are in all areas.
This also affects how we see God working in our lives. We think we know God’s plans for us, but when we turn out to be wrong, we associate God with rejection and question His Love. It seems easier or safer to put on the seemingly rejection-proof shell than to sink to our knees, develop a new plan, and allow ourselves to be stronger and vulnerable again.
Fortunately, we eventually recognize that what seems easy and safe in the moment, is generally not so longterm. Eventually, we search for more. Starting fresh after rejection is a good thing, but doing so without choosing love from the start paves a path for more rejection, greater confusion, and a questioning of self and God’s plan.
Begin with Love
To live a life you love, you must start with love. This includes a love of the natural world, a love of those around you, a love of the Lord who created all, and a love of self. It’s easy to overcomplicate this idea so let’s look at how we can simplify love and make it more doable in all we do.
Love is Not a Feeling. Love is an Action
Love is not a feeling as current trends would have us believe. Love is not an emotion or a hot and steamy activity. Love is a choice. Love is what you do when you don’t feel love. It is easy to love when life and others treat you well. As the Bible tells us, even the tax collectors do that. What sets you apart is your ability to love even when things don’t go your way. Choose love as your superpower that you can activate it at will. Superpowers are not impressive when life is easy. They become super because they are activated in difficult circumstances when others would fail to do so.
Not All Rejection is Personal Rejection
Understand not all rejection is personal rejection. You may be turned down for a job or relationship because the other party has different needs than those you have been given and grown. Love that the company knows itself well enough to not put you in a position that you are not best suited for! Love that God uniquely creates us and has gifted someone else with what the company thinks it needs in this moment. Love that you have talents someone else will want!
Rejection is not always finite either. It could be a rejection of the moment as you are called to develop talents, skills, mindsets, and growth in areas you haven’t fully developed yet. Love the challenge that presents!
When rejection is personal, remember love is a superpower. It is a choice and an action. If another cannot choose to love you, that is more a reflection on him than on you. It does not reflect your value. It reflects his. This is painful but vital to understanding love and your own superpower, a superpower this other person does not yet possess.
Love in the Morning
Studies show what you do in the first minutes after waking each morning charges your entire day. We often begin by jumping right in or already a few minutes behind. Instead, lay in bed for a moment, not hitting the snooze, but awake and choosing love.
Inhale slowly through your nose. Inflate your belly with love and goodness. Then exhale love slowly through your mouth. Take time to thank the Lord for your breath. Thank Him for all the good and the bad things that will happen this day. Thank Him for loving you and for giving you love as your superpower. Thank Him for giving you challenges as opportunities to train and grow in love.
Take a moment to consider what you hope for in your day and visualize those hopes coming to fruition. Choose to love the plan God has for you. Choose to love all the twists and turns you cannot see now but that will give you the opportunity to meet and love those you would not have gotten encountered without such challenges.
Sometimes we need to find reasons to love. Take time to smell the roses, but don’t stop there! Appreciate the sway of the trees that bend but do not break in the wind. Smile and say hello to strangers and love their reactions no matter what those reactions are. Give thanks to your Guardian Angel for protecting you from the driver who cut you off on the way to work. Value the feedback your boss gives you on your annual review. Admire gifts others have and cherish the differences God makes in all of us.
Often when we don’t want to act in love, it is because we forget we have so much to be thankful for. Even our challenges open doors to gratitude and loving better. When you choose love as your superpower, daily written gratitude becomes your practice field. Use it often. It never wears out and only gets better with time. That is the power of love.
God is Love. People Are Not.
Most importantly, know this. God is Love. He Loves each of us perfectly. People are not love and do not love perfectly. Beginning with love means accepting this fact even when it is hard to understand. Then it means moving on without judgment. Beginning with love means not judging God’s, “No,” in human terms of rejection but in choosing to see it as His steering you toward something else. Beginning with love means choosing to be gentle with yourself and others when inevitable failure hits. Beginning with Love means letting go of perfectionism and choosing to love people where are for who they are – this includes beginning to love yourself.
Beginning with love needs to be approached with intention and the belief that love is possible in all situations. It needs to be approached with the belief that you are Loved in all things, capable of loving in all things, and can strengthen love through practice in all things. Love extends to every conversation, every natural wonder, every missed opportunity. When you commit to beginning with love you do not change the world overnight, but you change the way you see the world and the way the world begins to sees you. You rely less on outcomes for worth and you begin to understand the superpower God has given you.
Choosing to begin every moment with love opens a world of previously unimaginable possibilities. Choosing to begin with love may not change others, but it always changes and frees you.