Life Without Love Is Lifeless
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."1
Dr. Alfred Adler, international psychiatrist, based the following conclusions on a careful analysis of thousands of patients: "The most important task imposed by religion has always been, 'Love your neighbor….' It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow man who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring."
As I have said a number of times, it may not be the most desirable for many of us, but we can live healthily as a single or without romantic love in our life. But we cannot live healthily without loving relationships—or at the very least, without one loving relationship.
I would agree with Dr. Adler in that, more often than not, it is a lack of love that drives people into self-destructive behaviors such as: looking for love in all the wrong places and getting deeply hurt and disappointed; acting out sexually as a false substitute for love; and turning to drugs and alcohol as a means to anesthetize or deaden the pain of emptiness caused by a lack of love.
So, if we are lacking in love or feel that we need more healthy love in our life, where do we find it? Easy question; tough answer.
First, it begins by admitting to ourselves and to at least one trusted friend exactly how empty and lacking in love we feel.
Second, remember that we get damaged in damaging relationships and are healed in healing relationships. This means we need to be in relationship with at least one loving, accepting, non-judgmental, trusted person (a capable counselor if necessary) with whom we can be totally open and honest and, step by step, open up and reveal our true self—warts and all. It's only as we reveal who we truly are that we can be loved and accepted for who we are, and not for what we have ever done or have failed to do. As we are loved and accepted in this way, little by little we learn to love and accept ourselves.
This, of course, takes courageous work and time. However as we learn to love and accept ourselves, we are not only freed to change, but also in a position where we are attracted to loving people and they to us. Remember, 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 ourselves have been loved and accepted.
Third, and most important, realize that we not only need the love of others, but most important of all, we need to know and experience God's love, forgiveness, and His divine acceptance. As we open up to Him and confess our true self to Him—sins and faults—and ask for His forgiveness, He forgives us totally. And, of course, we need to learn how to forgive ourselves. Then we are freed to experience God's love in the depths of our inner being. And joyously we will discover, as we grow in love towards others, our love for God will also grow and be enriched. As God's Word says, "If we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us"
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to find a loving friend with whom I can feel totally safe to open up and share my true self—my sins and faults—and give me the courage to be totally honest and do this. Help me, too, to grow in love towards others so that Your love is made complete in me. And then, help me to give the same love to others as they and You have given to me. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name. Amen"
1. 1 John 4:11-12 (NIV)