STONE THIRTEEN CONTINUED
Love: I learn to deepen my ability to love when I learn to tolerate, accept, embrace, and forgive. I choose to employ these attributes to my spiritual walk, to my personal relationships, and to my world view.
Instruction: Love big.
My father had a habit of saying, “If you’re gonna do it, you might as well do it right.” We have nearly reached the end of the Steps and Stones of Religious Recovery, and we have saved the most important instruction for last. Perhaps it should have been first among the Stones and even placed first among the Steps, but, ultimately, all that we write and speak about should lead us back to love. In keeping with my father’s advice, “If we’re gonna love, then let’s do it right.” Let’s love big. Part of what that entails is removing any hindrance to love. How can we love people of a different land if we can’t love members of our own family or our neighbors across the street? To love big, we might have to start by loving small. Both of these extremes are really only in our minds. Love is love, and when I learn to love, I can apply it to those I’ve never met as well as to those who have hurt or abused me. I can apply it to my enemies and to my closest friends.
Love knows no boundaries and only our concept of separation keeps us from loving more fully. If we think we are different from someone else, better than or lesser than someone else, more worthy or less worthy than someone else, we are mistaken, and we will struggle to give love without conditions. Our discussion of tolerance, acceptance, embracing, forgiving, and respecting has led us to the culmination of what it means to love. We love as The Divine loves or our love is conditional and hasn’t come to maturity. Our view of our Higher Power will condition our ability to love. If we believe The Divine has favorites, then we will feel justified in treating people differently. But, for my part, I hope The Divine doesn’t have favorites, because that puts me into competition with those who seem to be favored by The Divine and gives me false pride if I consider myself to be more favored than others. The Divine loves all of creation with unconditional love, and The Divine has no favorites. In the Christian tradition there is a biblical story called the Pharisee’s prayer in which one follower felt he was higher than another follower praying near him, and the Pharisee thanked God in his prayer that he was better. God was not pleased. All are children of The Divine, and, thus, all are children of Love. There is an expression that says, “Go big or go home.” I propose that we go big in Love, for that is our Home.
I want to offer a few more words of caution. Yes, I certainly believe strongly in “Big Love,” but when there is a situation involving an abusive spouse, we are certainly not saying that “Big Love” mandates a return to an abusive relationship. Often the best course of action is to love the abusive person from a distance, even if that means, at some point, permanent separation.
Today’s Assignment is to consider ways to safely enlarge the quality and quantity of your love, but at the same time, keep in mind our words of caution. Love big, but stay safe in the process. Remember that loving big also means to be true to yourself.
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