Saturday, January 31, 2009

a.m.a.a.w.w.i.t.r.a.a.y.b.n. part 5

So, if
receiving loving, accepting, peaceful, inviting trustworthy interaction, motivated by real love is what reassures us and enables us to respond to others with real love
we wish to become people who can give that gift to others
other “sort of like love” expressions, though helpful, do not endure,
Jesus is the master of that kind of real love such that when we encounter it from him it not only empowers us to love but also moves us and leaves us profoundly affected for a long time,
can you see what he might be talking about when he told his disciples
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit...As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”?
So the best question to ask myself, as I seek to create loving, empowering, enduring, joyful relationships is, how do you become a person who abides in him: who continues in his love? For that is what will ultimately empower me to love the way I desire to love.

a.m.a.a.w.w.i.t.r.a.a.y.b.n. part 4

Baer, in his book, declares that when we do not feel fully loved, we seek other things from our beloved that are sort of like love.  For example, we might feel a real need for praise (compliments, recognition, appreciation) from our beloved or we might try to create a sense of control in the relationship (power) or we might hunger for touch or physical pleasure to reassure us of our being loved.   Or we might seek a sense of safety and protection or reassurance in our relationship.  All of these are not love itself.  We seek them as an indication that we are loved.  We see them as the outward manifestations of something much deeper.

But outward manifestations are not the real thing.  And experiencing the trappings of love is not the same as  experiencing love itself.  

Not only that, but often we misread our longing for love as a longing for one of those "sort of like love" things and we talk about needing certain types of love languages, or gifts or behaviors from our beloved in order to be reassured that we actually are loved.   Our relationship can easily become one where we are simply focusing on trying to learn how to fulfill our partner's "sort of like love" needs, and getting frustrated or discouraged when ours are threatened or insufficiently supplied.  Certainly, trying to supply another's "sort of like love" needs is a considerate, unselfish thing to do.  It can be very helpful and kind and I don't advocate discontinuing the practice.  But in seeking to love and feel loved, we need to distinguish between real love and "sort of like love" practices.  The latter will wax and wane due to our imperfections and the very human nature of our beloved, fluctuating with our abilities, capacities, stress levels, congniscence, presence or absence over the months and years.   And if we depend or focus only on them  we set ourselves up for disappointment or resignation during those waning times.  And sometimes our anxiety about waning even prevents us from appreciating the waxing times.

"Sort of like love" sorts of things (praise, a sense of power or control, pleasure or reassurance, etc.) though pleasant, are not the essence of warm, welcoming, unconditional love .  They are temporary.  Whether we are giving them or seeking them, they are not the real thing and should not be confused with it.  For me this sheds a little more light on the verse found in 2nd Corinthians:

Charity never faileth but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a.m.a.a.w.w.i.t.r.a.a.y.b.n. part 3, The effect of REAL real love

John Murdock attended the School of the Prophets in Kirtland Ohio in the winter of 1833.  He wrote about his experiences there which you can find in "An Abridged Record of the Life of John Murdock", located in the Church Archives.

One passage from that record struck me a few years ago.  He wrote of a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ he experienced there.  I won't post the whole thing here, though I can send it to you if you wish.  What struck me most was the sentence at the end of the paragraph in which he describes the experience.

"[It] left in my mind the impression of love, for months that I never felt before to that degree."

Jesus is the master of giving that kind of love; the kind that frees the receiver from tendencies to feel hurt and alone or to respond with anger, deceit or withdrawal and instead encourages warm, loving response.  He is the model.

Monday, January 19, 2009

a.m.a.a.w.w.i.t.r.a.a.y.b.n. part 2

Baer goes on to write:

"When we react [to others] with anger or withdrawal, or by acting hurt...we feel more alone and miserable. So why do we keep doing those unproductive things?

"The answer is simple. When you do feel unconditionally loved you lose your tendency to feel hurt and alone, and to react with anger, deceit, or withdrawal. You have those negative feelings and respond in those negative ways, therefore, because you don't feel loved. Human behavior is usually that simple."

For Baer, it seems, the best source of help for someone's abiltity to respond warmly rather than coldly, or fearfully or angrily is a sense of being fully and unconditionally loved.

Now certainly any good cognitive therapist will tell you that there are some people to whom you can give unconditional love but who will refuse to allow themselves to believe that you do fully love them and enjoy your interaction with them. Negative, false thinking habits are not uncommon among most of us. So you may find yourself trying to show forth real love to someone who prevents herself from being empowered and blessed by it.

And of course there will always be some people who have embraced wickedness to such an extent that to even approach them would be foolhardy unless you weigh 250 pounds, can bench press 500 and are a crack shot.

But there are many who will find it a real blessing and help in their efforts to respond well to life and its challenges and to others if you can become a person who can really, consistantly give them warm, welcoming, unconditional love in your daily interaction with them.

I think it must be, at least at first, a conscious decision in most relationships; a decision to actively take pleasure in another's company, put one's ego or one's sense of how things "should be done" out of the picture, to let go of a need to manage things, to be at peace in spite of your differences of opinion, and simply enjoy a beloved one. At least for me it would be. My "natural man" is way too front and center to be moved unconsciously.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A man and a woman walk into the room and address you by name.

I've been reading a book by Greg Baer. I wish to remember some of the things I learn as I go. Writing them will help.

"Imagine that you are having a difficult day. Several people have confronted you about mistakes you've made or assignments you've not completed and you are feeling inadequate and irritated. The computer isn't working--again--and your car is in the shop for the third time in the past two months....

"In the midst of your frustration, a man and a woman walk into the room and address you by name. Even though you've never seen them before, you feel as though they've known you all your life. Somehow you sense from their peaceful and inviting expression that you can trust them completely. They ask you to go with them, and without hesitation you get up and follow them.

"Side by side, you walk beetween this couple for some time, finally turning into the driveway of a beautiful home. Walking through the front entryway, you enter a spacious, well-lighted room, where many people are talking to one another. After seeing you, several of them come over to greet you. Although you've never met them before, you feel no anxiety, because you see in their faces and gestures nothing but sincere and unreserved welcome.

"In a way that you can't describe, you sense that everyone in this room feels loved and happy, and you know that no matter what mistakes you've ever made or what flaws you have, these people accept you completely. As you sit and talk with them, you realize you don't need to do anything to impress them, nor do you have a need to hide anything from them.

"Utterly relaxed, you begin to tell them the story of your life. You talk about your mistakes, your foolishness, your weaknesses, your fears, and your successes. They understand everything you're saying, and they accept you and care about you. You know there is nothing you could do that would disappoint or irritate them, nor would it be possible to feel embarassed or ashamed around them. For hours you talk and laugh with these new friends.

"Allow yourself to enjoy this feeling. Let it sink in and fill your entire being. Allow yourself to float in the calm, sweet ocean of the peace you feel. You'd like to stay in this place forever, but the day draws to a close and eventually you must go home. As you leave your friends invite you to return anytime you wish, and you know they mean what they say.

"Now come back to the real world and consider this question: While you were with these people, did you feel any inclination at all to be angry at them--or lie to them or withdraw from them? The idea is ridiculous--how could you feel angry or otherwise react negatively toward people who [you realize] unconditionally accept and love you? Moreover, while you were with those people, did you feel any inclination to be angry with anyone else--at any of the people you know in [your everyday] life? Were you irritated about the dysfunctional computer or the car in the shop? While you were with those loving people you didn't have any of those negative feelings because when we feel unconditionally loved, we have the one thing that matters most in all the world, and then we lose our need to be angry , to feel hurt, to lie to people, and to withdraw from relationships."

So the first thing I learn, as I read this book is the importance and goodness of sweet, loving, accepting, peaceful, inviting, trustworthy, welcoming interaction. There is great goodness in this gift one can give to the members of one's family when, no matter another's mistakes or flaws, you accept them, love them and are honestly interested in them.

I've known a few people who radiate this kind of unconditional love and have enjoyed that blessing from them. But I don't always give it. It's too easy to instead fall into the trap of being disappointed or anxious or feeling insecure or worried in my interactions with others. And when I do, I miss out on the opportunity to give them the one gift that most helps them to respond to life well; unconditional love.

More thoughts later.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On a lighter note

Elizabeth sent me this.
Ours must be a free range one. It's not where it used to be.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Comforting, truth, sorrow, compassion

It is interesting to note that "the Comforter", in all its references, speaks gospel truth. Try doing a scripture search for it. For example, the most well known one:
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
• • •

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you"

What is this connection between truth and comforting?

Some truth brings sorrow. When you state a truth that brings sorrow to you or others is that truth simply incomplete truth; truth that sees only part of the whole, missing a part that is unknowable or imperceptible or neglected now, but may be clear at another time?

What is the relationship between truth, sorrow and comforting? Can I assume that each sorrow that devastates is an incomplete truth, needing full attention, but not complete in itself?

And if that is the case, then there looms the obvious, egregious error of discounting another's sorrow or glibly reciting general platitudinous truths in response to it, something we often do in our attempts to avoid feeling its pain.

Compassion, truth, comforting, sorrow. All together. It requires more than most of us feel inclined to fully bear all at the same time. But perhaps they are inextricably entwined when fully experienced.

"He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

By others? "willing to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort"
By turning to the Lord? "For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from thecoasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, andEphraim is my firstborn.

Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.
By the Holy Ghost? "the comforter"

It seems to be more likely if you are living a repentant life (Mormon 2: 12-14).

Lessons for me? Be willing to mourn and comfort others. Learn what is helpful and what is not helpful. Keep repenting; trying to make the precepts God teaches a natural part of you, turning to Him. Be responsive to the influence of the Holy Ghost as a source of comfort. Recognize it. Take it to heart.

Much to be learned.