The first face of love is to love God, The Divine, The Creator of the Universe, or whatever name we choose to give to that which is above all and greater than self. We love not simply because The Divine loves us—although that is a good reason—but because loving The Divine is our natural response to a perfect deity. For a child not to love a parent is unnatural. Even if that parent is judged by others as unworthy of love, it makes little difference to the child. We love because we are a part of that parent—an extension of their lives.
We are also an extension of divinity. That which created us, we naturally love. That which gave us life and a world in which to play, is the One we are drawn to in love. Our world is filled with churches, some simple and some ornate, that demonstrate that we love The Divine.
Worship is merely a means to express our love individually and collectively. All things begin and end with love. Our existence is meaningless without love. A life lived without love is often a dangerous and fearful life. Even though we may deny love, it doesn’t make it go away or any less important. Even when we don’t feel the love of The Divine, it is always constant and unmoving. Always present, always caring, always drawing us back to that which is greater than ourselves.
The second face of love is to love ourselves. When done properly, this doesn’t have to involve the ego. We love ourselves not because we are special, but simply because we are an extension of the Creator, or an extension of Divine Love. “Special” implies that one person is better—or in some cases less than—someone else. But, when we understand that all of The Divine’s creations are equally special and that favoritism is not part of divine plan, then we can hold our egos in check.
I love my children, but if one of them lived as if they were unworthy of my love or as if they were unlovable, I would be disappointed and hurt. I know they are lovable or I wouldn’t love them. My children don’t have to say or do anything to deserve my love. It is theirs and it always will be. They are an extension of me, and I know they have great potential for love.
We extend the love for our children to ourselves. We love ourselves because it is healthy, and because the alternative is harmful to our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
A store owner occasionally takes inventory of his stock in order to determine what he has and what he needs. This process works in our lives, too. If we have set a goal for our spiritual lives, wouldn’t it be helpful if once in a while we took inventory of our spiritual stock to see what qualities we have and which ones we lack?
What are some of the items that we might want in our spiritual inventory? Patience seems like a good product. So does kindness and generosity. Do we have these items or is our stock depleted. How about time? Do we have an abundance of time, or is it a scarce commodity in our spiritual storehouse? What about strength, courage, and tenacity? Are these items that we need, or can we get by with shyness, timidity, and weakness? What about the commodity known as intuition? Is that in our inventory? And, if so, is it fresh or has the expiration date come and gone?
Other items we might search our storehouse for are forgiveness, love, a listening ear, and prayer. As we make use of these items, they renew themselves daily. But, the more we leave them on the shelf, the less value they have and the less effective they become. Some of these items seem to be a natural fit with our personalities and abilities. We connect with these and concentrate on using them. That’s fine, but don’t neglect any of the products in your spiritual store. All have a purpose.
Knowing when you need to relax is just as important as doing the relaxing, because how can you relax if you don’t know you’re tense? I know some of my warning signs, but probably not all. One major key for me is grinding my teeth. When that occurs, it usually means I’m working too hard on something and getting minimal results. Another sign is irritability. I become short-tempered and sensitive. Another is tension in my neck, shoulders, and arms.
Another sign that I need to relax and let the universe take care of itself is my ability to drive courteously when others are driving recklessly. In my moments of sanity and lucidity I know that other drivers are not out to get me, that they have places to be and things to do, and that they could care less about me. As a friend reminds me from time to time, not everything is about me.
If I allow someone to cut me off in traffic without giving him or her a piece of my mind, what harm does it do? Besides, I need to save my mind for my old age when the pieces seem to vanish without me giving any away. These are just some of my warning signs. Perhaps we share some of the same ones. The important thing is to learn what the signs are, and then when the triggers go off, to take time to sit in silence until we find our center again.
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