What your neighbor needs now is love but they often encounter indifference. We need to find a way to listen to them and tell them they are loved.
I wonder at times that under depression and anxiety, there is a deep unmet need for love. That many are love-starved and are unaware of it.
There are a lot of lonely people; maybe you’re one of them. I want to tell you that you are loved, but ‘Love’, I believe, is the most dangerous word in the world.
When heard, it can be twisted into all sorts of meanings and intentions that were never meant. Romanticized, sexualized, it can take on a life of its own.
I love my wife, my family, and my friends. Sounds right and proper, but what about saying ‘You are loved’ to someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety. Someone is psychotic?
Would they hear it within the intention that you are seeking to speak from?
Everyone needs to know they are loved.
You are loved because
Why are you loved?
That’s quite a profound question, and for many people, they may dispute that they are loved at all.
They have tied love into being the result of a performance.
When they do these certain activities or behaviors, then they will be loved. If they look a certain way, say the right words, cook the perfect meal, earn a certain amount of money, then they will be loved. If they follow the rules then they will experience love.
They put the power of hoped-for love into other’s hands. Always risky and fraught with potential manipulation and servitude.
You are loved because you are you.
Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
I’m not indifferent to you
What would be the perfect behavior of love? How would you know 100% that you are loved?
I think it would be that you feel that you have been genuinely listened to. That you are acknowledged and known. That the lover, the one who is listening, has not been indifferent in any way to your heart.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Elie Wiesel
Indifference kills relationship.
It’s those words of ‘whatever’, ‘I don’t care’, ‘tell that to someone who cares’, ‘can’t be bothered’ that will shoot the already wounded.
The greatest lover of all time, Jesus, was never indifferent to the needs of those whom others were indifferent to.
He stepped into the world of shame and failure and had love feasts with the outcasts. Those on the sideline and not in the game. Those discarded and invalidated by others.
As I write this, I keep thinking of a picture by David Hayward and the story it comes from.
It comes from the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. John 8:1-11 She was about to be stoned for supposed crimes. Can you imagine the terror and anxiety flooding her?
Love reached out and saturated her life.
Taping into love
For every broken hurting person, I would like them to hear and know that they are loved.
I wonder what would happen if when we exchanged words of farewell such as ‘Bye,’ we instead said the words ‘You are loved’.
Perhaps it would cause people to think about the vast reservoir of love that is contained around them at all times.
This week as I write, it has been one year since the tragic killings in Christchurch. A man stormed into two Christchurch mosques and with a semi automatic rifle slaughtered men, women, and children.
Were we indifferent to the pain?
No, love flooded and burst out all around this broken community. Love conquered hate. Indifference never got a look in.
Around every one of us, and especially around you, is a vast untameable lake of love, and it needs to be taped into.
The Bible may tell us so
As a child, I learned that I was loved by Jesus because ‘The Bible tells me so’.
That’s a left-brained, logic-based, cold fish approach to knowing something.
I want to know that love with the depth of experiential awareness.
Full emotional awareness like being held and embraced in the depth of a storm. Having a waterfall of powerful flowing love washing and pounding against me.
I can’t experience that love without you, and you can’t experience it without me.
There has to be a crossing over the divide of rugged independence and self-reliance to the truth of interdependence.
Listening for love in all the right places
Why does it have to take a funeral before people come and express their gratitude and love for someone?
Does it have to be mass murder before the community says we love?
I want to know I am loved and have worth beyond my role, my functionality, and strength or beauty. Can you tell me I am loved?
Someone you are going to meet today needs to hear that they are loved. Don’t be indifferent to Spirit (Holy) when the prompt comes.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis
I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Quotes to consider
- The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.
To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead. Elie Wiesel
- Some people care too much. I think it’s called love. A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
- Where there is great love there is always miracles. Willa Cather
- Love acts like a giant magnet that pulls out of us, like iron filings, every recorded injury, every scar. Terrence Real
- He [Jesus] can only reach as far as you and I are willing to go.
Anna Dimmel – I went to a Strip Club
Questions to consider
- There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.
- What do you think would happen if we regularly told others ‘You are loved’?
- In your community, who needs to hear that they are loved?
- How much does isolation and unawareness of love play into a person’s depression or anxiety?
Image cc: Gage Walker