This morning someone said “love has no limits.” The idea struck me. What exactly do we mean by limitless?Does it mean that we love not matter what or that the love is as wide as the universe? I suppose it can mean either.
On the face of it,it is true. Love should have no limits. That’s when we think of unconditional love. The kind of love that keeps on loving no matter what. This is a mother who loves her child who is a serial killer. This is loving the warts and ugly temperament. This is loving the child who actually hates us.
But there are some loves that even though limitless must have constraints on them. An abused women loves her husband but needs to learn to love herself and move away from the abuse. A child will love a drug addicted parent who doesn’t care for them. That love doesn’t make the neglect forgivable. A spouse may have to divorce an alcoholic partner. The love may still be there but the situation is unmanageable.
There are cases where the love may be limitless but one sided and the relationship is fated to fail. Is it possible for the limitless love to continue? I don’t know.
If we are Christian we are asked to love without reservation. Loving this way may not require us to accept the behavior associated with it. We are also asked to love ourselves and this may be the hardest thing of all.
It seems to me that to love genuinely and unconditionally we must first love and accept ourselves with all our flaws. This is what allows us to love others flaws and all. This may be love without limits.
Sometimes people who are young look at those of us who are older with disdain. What do we know? They dismiss us or not even see us. It usually doesn’t bother me but sometimes I see someone just ignore someone elderly and it makes me furious.
I wonder if they think it won’t happen to them? Well guess what? If it doesn’t happen then you are dead. I wonder when we stopped seeing elders as wise. Most of the people I know have so much wisdom to impart. Many of them are sharing by helping others in some sort of volunteer work. The mediations I do are voluntary. The center would be unable to function without us. We are using what we have gained over a lifetime to help people come to an agreement that keeps them from going to court. This is just one example.
I remember one day when I was having a conversation with my daughter (she was in her car—auto phone) and my granddaughter and friends were listening. I was talking about my blog and one of her friends said “your grandmother writes a blog?!!” There was incredulity in the question. Someone my age writing a blog? Who would have thought?The girls were impressed but it shows what they expected of someone older.
Don’t dismiss older people because of their age. Yes, some people have dementia or fading memory. Some choose to sit in a chair and vegetate but they are not in the majority. My contemporaries are out there doing good works. Don’t dismiss us!
People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.
You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)
God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)
Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)
I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)
God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)
Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)
Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear
Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?
I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?
I am so sorry
I will call you soon (only if you really will)
Give a hug
Cry with them
Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.
Most importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!
Today, a friend at church, was showing us the bruises and stitches gotten when she she fell in the grocery store. She fell while buying a bottle of wine. The bottle broke and she was cut by the glass. She talked about going to the immediate med place and smelling like a drunk. I can imagine her saying “but I wasn’t drinking!”
She will have a small scar in one place and that started me thinking about the scars that we all carry. I have one from the time I put my finger in an electrical socket as a child. I have one from falling on a sharp piece of bamboo in the back yard.
We all have scars. Some are physical and some are emotional. I think the emotional scars are harder to heal. The trouble is we keep pulling them out to look and remember the pain. It’s funny how we do that and hardly notice the physical scars.
It is so easy to remember the times that we were hurt and to dwell on them. We can feel the emotions all over again…whether it is anger or pain or sadness. We almost treasure them and tuck them away so that we can get upset all over again.
We have to open those closets inside where we shove those scars and pull them out and throw them away. The sooner we do that the sooner we will be able to move past them. Holding on to them hurts us. Probably the people who caused them remember nothing and there we are still hurting.
I am trying to expose those scars and push them away from me so that I don’t have to feel the pain. In the Lord’s Prayer it says (new version) “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” A version from the New Zealand Prayer book says “in the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.” It makes me think that one meaning we can get from that is forgive us for holding on to those hurts.
Turn them loose and move on.
Today as I sat in church I was struck by the thought “don’t let religion divide us.” I am not sure why that came to me so strongly but there it was and it kept repeating itself until it was rooted in my mind.
There have been wars about territory, water rights, expansion of empires, money and whatever else. There have also been wars over religion. The middle east (or the fertile crescent) has changed hands so many times. Mostly is has been about territory but religion was involved. The fertile crescent had many different religions over the centuries but the Jewish worship of one god persisted.
As Christianity grew it encountered other faiths and prevailed over most of the ones in Europe. A form of the Jewish faith moved south and morphed into Islam with Mohammad.
During the middle ages Christianity and Islam battled in Spain and the Holy Land. The crusades were launched to recover the Holy Land. Many died in this conflict.
Later Christianity became obsessed with itself and the Inquisition had many innocents slaughtered in the name of religion.
Conflict rose again with the protestant reformation and Catholic and reform groups both suffered.
Religion has added prejudices to the ones about skin color, nationality, and anything that makes someone “other.” Now there is much disagreement among Christian denominations.
If we add the widening influence to other cultures and their faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism and many others we now have a world with religions bumping into each other everywhere.
I think all of this leads me back to my original thought. Do not let religion divide us. It already has with Islamic extremists planning death to “infidels,” fighting between India and Pakistan and conflict almost everywhere.
I love the God that I believe in and I don’t think that his/her intention is for us to slaughter each others over our faith. Instead we are called to love everyone. We are told to turn the other cheek. We are not told to murder others because of their beliefs. God is greater than us and his plan is beyond our understanding. Please Lord, help us not to kill each other over religion.
Romans 8:7 New International Version
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Today I was reading another blog on this passage and it brought some things to mind. When we read passages about the “flesh” we tend to think in terms of sex. This passage is way broader than that. Paying attention to our flesh is to think of ourselves first. It is to put ourselves in the place of God. We create idols and worship them.
One of the worst is money which is connected with power. Some people want the money for moneys sake. I had an aunt who spent the early part of her life so poor that there was nothing to eat. She did not spend money as she acquired it. She squirreled it away so that she would never be that poor again. For her money was a life line. There was always that fear controlling her.
For others money is about luxury. Things. Having the best of everything. Being able to go out and buy anything you want. This is connected with one up-manship. This is wanting money to be better than someone else. This is trying assuage the hole in your soul with things.
Then there are those who use money for power. Their lives are spent manipulating those around them. They love being in control. They seldom think of anyone but themselves.
Although all of these things are connected to money each is flawed on its own. Each of these things create idols that are worshiped instead of God. Each of them takes us further and further away from what is real and meaningful.
Worship of the body itself is another idol. Our society loves this one. Youth and a beautiful body are all that matters. They cannot see ahead that each of us is dust and to dust we will return. God does not ask us to ignore our bodies. In fact we are called to care for ourselves as his creation. Just not turn it into worship.
There are many more things than sex connected with the flesh that become idols. We need to think broadly and see the truth. “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
Life can be so frustrating. Things can begin to pile up and then they push us over the edge. And we fall. Tonight I spent time talking with someone who is being pushed and is maybe too close to the edge.
Living with anxiety and depression can be hard for us but it can be terrifying for those we love. They can see the cycle happening and want to do something but everything they try doesn’t help. They sense the danger and can do nothing. This can lead to overreacting. Being anxious and feeling watched for signs of stress doesn’t make life easier. The sad part is that we know it is about love but we also can do nothing.
The books that came out in the 1950’s and 1960’s talked abut what life would be like if we were being watched. “Big brother” is always watching. This idea is unsettling. It takes a toll and makes life even more difficult. It adds on guilt for seeming to be a burden and making those around us afraid.
This is a heavy weight to carry. Someone watching our habits…sleeping…eating…living and questioning our level of wellness can actually set healing back. I don’t know what the answer is. To be loved is what all of us want and need but it can be overwhelming.
Each of us needs to find the middle path between our loved ones anxiousness and our own search for wholeness, wellness and ability to function on our own. We must accept their loving care but need them to know that we are aware of their fear of harm for us, understand but also need space to just be be ourselves.