Learning to Love
"We love Him because He first loved us."1
While we are encouraged and even commanded by God to love one another, it isn't always easy to do. Loving actually needs to be learned.
As the Bible teaches, we love God because He loved us first. He modeled it for us. The same principle is true with human love. We love people because someone first loved us and modeled love for us.
We didn't come into the world knowing how to love, only with the ability to learn how to love. If we didn't receive healthy loving or if we didn't feel adequately loved when we were growing up, chances are as adults we will suffer from love deprivation and not know how to love properly—only how "to make" love which may or may not have anything at all to do with love!
In other words, to learn to love we need to be loved first—for what we didn't receive in our early developmental years, we need to receive now.
We do this by having at least one or two safe, loving, non-judgmental, and accepting people to love us as we really are—by allowing them see our total dark side—secrets, failures, sins, weaknesses, faults … warts and all. As these people love and accept us for who we are (not for what we have or haven't done), we learn little by little to love and accept ourselves. Remember, too, that we can only be loved to the degree that we are known, and we can only love and accept others to the degree that we have learned to love and accept ourselves. Admittedly this can be very scary but it is profoundly healing.
This is another reason why the Bible teaches us the importance of confessing our sins and faults to one another.2 Doing this is crucial for the healing of our human hurts and damaged emotions.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a few friends with whom I can feel safe to let them know me fully and love me still. Through their love and your love please help me to learn to love and accept myself in a healthy way. In so doing teach me to love others who also need to be loved in the same way I do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 John 4:19 (NKJV).
2. James 5:16.