Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but I'm still thinking about love. In fact, I've been thinking about it a lot this month, partly because my husband, Neil, and I are leading a class on relationships and also because several of my friends are dealing with relationship challenges and heartbreak. A popular song by the Beatles tells us, "All you need is love...love is all you need." These familiar words make it sound so simple. You need love; love is what you need. So just love and be loved. The unspoken promise in these words is that then everything will be okay. Except...it's not that easy, and things aren't always okay. Words and actions wound us. Rejection cuts deep. Betrayal shatters our hearts. And relationships end.
A friend of mine had been married for many years when her husband announced one day, "You and our marriage are not worth fighting for." As she shared this with me, I was stunned by the cold and calloused cruelty of his words, and I wept after hanging up the phone. Someone else shared the hurt of being rejected by a long-time friend and the difficulty of risking relationship after that painful loss. Another dear one carries deep wounds caused by empty promises that were never fulfilled.
The truth is, none of us is exempt. Whether it's with a spouse, family member, friend, or other relationship, we all have experienced the pain of relational wounds. Some are more life-altering than others, but all are serious because they deeply affect us and how we interact with others—whether we realize it or not.
In recent weeks I have prayed about this as I have mourned for my friends and for all of us who carry unhealed relationship wounds. And by the way, that's most of us. Unknowingly and unintentionally, we wind up injuring others in some way because of these wounds. The saying is true: hurt people hurt people. How can we find healing and begin to love one another as Jesus commanded?
Perhaps a clue is found in the command itself. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35 NIV, emphasis added). Jesus tells us to love others as He has loved us. How has Jesus loved us? Sacrificially, selflessly, compassionately, completely, unfailingly, unconditionally, perfectly. Wow, that's a tall order! And it's one we're not able to fill ourselves. Clearly, we need Jesus' power to be able to love like that. And here's some good news: we have it.
Romans 8:11 (NLT) says, "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you." We have resurrection power within us—in other words, life-giving power. This life-giving power that can raise the dead is more than sufficient for enabling us to love one another well. So, if that is truth and knowing truth is all we need, then we should be loving others like Jesus all the time. But, unfortunately, that's just not the case. So, where's the disconnect?
There are deep theological discussions that we could have around that question, but that's not my intention here. Instead, I'd simply like to offer this: I believe the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. What I'm suggesting is that it may have more to do with our hearts than with our heads. Knowing something in our minds or intellects is one thing, but having experiential knowledge—an intimate knowing of the heart—is what changes us.
We may say we know Jesus loves us, but do we truly know His love? We may believe we are loved, as in "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." But there is a knowing that goes beyond head knowledge to a deep heart knowledge, the kind of knowing that heals the wounds we have received and transforms the lies we have believed. I'm using the word transforms here intentionally, because replacing lies with truth in our minds is not enough. It's an important step, but truth changes us only when it becomes part of our experience. So, what we need is an experience of the truth of God's love that penetrates deep into our hearts. That is what transforms us.
If I'm honest, most of my life I've lived out of head knowledge of God's love for me—more out of what I knew or believed about God than out of what I actually had experienced firsthand of God. It's only in the last several years that I have begun to experience the truth of God's love for me in the depths of my heart and soul. As I have said yes to God in new and life-giving ways, embracing His love as never before, God has revealed my own relationship wounds and has brought healing I didn't even know I needed. Contemplative postures and practices, along with inner healing prayer, have played a major role in this process. Here's what I've discovered:
Living out of head knowledge of God's love can get us only so far, but having heart knowledge of God's love is what truly transforms us—and that is what enables us to love others well.
Whenever we're not loving others well, that's probably a good indication that we need an experience of God's unconditional love for us. Only by experiencing God's love are we able to love others as He has loved us.
My prayer for each of us today is that we would know God's love experientially, a love that heals every relational wound from the cradle to the grave, so that we may be healthy and whole and so that we may be vessels of this healing love in the world. Relationships may be complicated and often are difficult and painful, but God's healing love truly is all we need. And as I told my friend, always remember that you are not only worth fighting for; you are worth dying for (John 3:16).
If you are in need of experiential knowledge of God's healing love and would like to explore that in a safe space with a spiritual companion or guide, I invite you to contact me and/or schedule a free consultation.
Hi, I'm Sally!
I'm passionate about connecting with God and connecting with people, offering spiritual encouragement and companionship. I'm so grateful to be on the journey with you as we walk with God together.