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Liberation of Being Loved as We Are

Meister Eckhart tells a story about a little donkey who labors all day long, sometimes with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries about the things that bother only donkeys. And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting than physical labor. Once in a while, a kind monk comes to her stable and brings a pear, but more than that, he looks into the donkey’s eyes and touches her ears and for a few seconds the donkey is free and even seems to laugh, because love does that.  Love frees.

We’re talking for the next three weeks about how love frees. About the liberating power of love. So, let’s take a moment to define liberation. The definition I found says liberation is “freeing something or someone from another’s control.” But I think you can be liberated from many things, not always from another person’s control. For example, we can be liberated from anger, grief, hatred, prejudice, self-loathing, judgment, addiction, negative situations and much more.

Most of these things sound to me like an inside job, things we need to do ourselves. And, yet, I think that being loved as we are has the power to help liberate us from all of these things.

The liberation of being loved as we are frees us to be ourselves, to stop worrying about not being liked. It frees us to take off our masks. It frees us from limits we put on ourselves. It frees us to risk, to make mistakes, to be silly or sad or angry. It frees us from expectations. It frees us from always trying to please others.

It would be amazing if everyone in the world believed that God loved them just as they are. But that hasn’t been the case. Too many people have been convinced that the essence of God is to judge them worthy or not worthy of eternal life. Much of our scripture paints God as an angry parent constantly chastising and punishing His children who keep messing up.

I think the translation of Psalm 139 by Nan Merrill shares a different view.

O my Beloved, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my innermost thoughts.
You find me on the journey and guide my steps;
You know my strengths and my weaknesses.
Even before words rise up in prayer,
Lo, You have already heard my heart call.
You encompass me with love where’er I go,
and your strength is my shield.

Here we find that the Divine One knows us inside and out, knows our hearts, knows our strengths and our weaknesses and still, no matter what, God’s love surrounds us and holds us wherever we go. There is no holding back, no waiting for us to straighten up first, no repentance required. God simply loves us everywhere and always.

What if the reason for that is very simply that the very essence of God is LOVE? And what if, at every moment, the energy of LOVE (God) is around us and in us? What if we can tap into that perfect, freeing love at any second for guidance, for insight, for strength, for self-confidence?

I believe this to be true. But we’re more comfortable creating God in our image. Giving God human characteristics like judgment and anger and a desire for vengeance because that is what we want. We want someone to pay for hurting others. We want some people to be left out of heaven. We want the “justice” (and I use the word loosely) of someone being punished when they screw up.

But what if God is just LOVE, a liberating love? A love that frees us from our fears, our need to be perfect, our need to perform or be successful. A love that frees us from our wounded self, that heals and makes us whole. If this was the God everyone was told was permeating the world, I wonder how life would be different.

Since so many of us have been told differently, and so many of us in this world are turning away from God altogether, or we haven’t felt this spiritual kind of love, we have to rely on people to love us for who we are. But that is hard, too!

Consider for a moment whether there was, or is, one person in your life that loved or loves you AS YOU ARE.  How did their presence affect you?

Would it have been easier for me to ask you to name someone in your life who judged you, who made you feel less than? Someone you felt you had to hide your true self from because you weren’t sure you’d still be loved?

Would it have been easier if I’d asked you to name a person in your life who always pointed out something wrong (your house is too dirty, your hair is too long, you make dumb decisions, you don’t know what you’re doing) rather than simply seeing the you deep within who is beautiful and unique?

Yep. I think so, too.

Perhaps the even bigger question to ask is how have we been loving others in our lives? Would we be named as loving another for who they are, no matter what they did and perhaps even despite what they did?

I understand that it is really hard to look past what people do. But it doesn’t mean we have to agree with every decision or action. It asks us to see beyond what someone does to who they are deep inside. I’ve messed up more than once in my lifetime, and learned quickly that there are not that many people with the depth of love and compassion to see the deeper me.

NOTE: This kind of love does NOT look like enabling or giving someone everything they want. Sometimes it means not doing that. It means seeing a deeper wholeness and holding up that mirror to them when they can’t see it themselves.

It is so important to try to see deeper, to love others as they are, because it is this kind of love that liberates and gives permission for people to learn and grow.

If my partner were the type of person to constantly criticize me, I’d feel unworthy, and like a failure. So, how could I ever risk trying to be better? If I can’t be loved with all my flaws and failings now, how could I ever have the confidence, or feel safe enough, to risk doing something different? There would be no guarantee I’d be loved any better, and if I failed it would simply be more fodder for criticism.

Let me close with a quote by Marc Ian Barasch:

Every now and then, I’ll meet an escapee, someone who has broken free of self-centeredness and lit out for the territory of compassion. You’ve seen them, too, those people who seem to emit a steady stream of, for want of a better word, love-vibes. As soon as you come within range, you feel embraced, accepted for who you are. For those of us who suspect that you rarely get something for nothing, such geniality can be discomfiting. Yet it feels so good to be around them. They stand there, radiating photons of goodwill, and despite yourself you beam back, and the world, in a twinkling, changes.

I want to be that person. The one who sends out love-vibes, embracing and accepting others as they are, I want to be the kind of person who radiates photons of goodwill. I think we all have the capacity. We just need to work at it.

Love & Light!

Kaye