When we are doing things that we didn't want to do, but figure out we really enjoy doing, we are in a good place indeed. To love God with all our heart is a good thing, but let me tell you that it takes time for us to realize just how good it is to let the things we thought were so important to fall away while allowing Christ to take that place within us. We allow a lot of things to occupy the space in our lives that really are meant to be fulfilled with what will truly satisfy us - giving us a sense of enjoying life to the fullest. There are times we do everything in order to avoid the things that will produce true joy and fulfillment because we don't want responsibility in our lives. I am here to tell you that 'responsibility' may be hard, and we may think with responsibility there will be no real sense of doing something because you love it, but when we begin to give of ourselves, not because you feel an obligation to do it, we will begin to enjoy it more.“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart. You must love Him with all your soul. You must love Him with all your strength. You must love Him with all your mind. You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have said the right thing. Do this and you will have life.” (Luke 10:27-28)
God has created us to be a gift - to love your neighbor as yourself. Let me start with telling you this is very hard until you come to love yourself. We need God to heal us to the point that we love and forgive ourselves, even when we make mistakes. Then we begin to see those who are hurting and bruised, wounded by life, ready for us to become the means by which they begin to realize their own healing. We begin to see others in our circle when we begin to look outside of ourselves. We need to be on the road to wholeness in ourselves if we are to ever to begin to set others on that road themselves. As we begin to heal on the inside - in the depths of our emotions and the recesses of our spirit - we begin to have opportunities to let others experience the things being worked out in our lives. It could be as simple as a simple word of encouragement they need - gifts don't have to be 'huge' in order to be the 'right one' for the one in need.
The genuineness of our love for God isn't really seen in the amount we put in the offering plate on Sunday. It isn't in the times we put ourselves out there for some 'return' on what we have done that love becomes evident. It is in the times we put ourselves out there even when we don't feel like it - when there is likely to be no return on our 'investment'. Our sense of fulfillment isn't found in just the good times - it is nurtured in the bad times. That seems a little counter-intuitive, but it is in giving of ourselves that we find the places that still need a little 'touch up' or total 'renovation' in our lives. There is something that happens when we extend ourselves - something that otherwise isn't realized when we just 'stagnate in place' in life.
When we move as God would have us move, looking for opportunities to embrace our neighbor, loving them well, we find our life becomes full - until we almost overflow because we are so full. Remember, we cannot love others if we cannot love ourselves. We have to first 'get over' the sense of worthlessness we feel in ourselves if we are to begin to give out of ourselves, finding ways to bless the lives of others. We don't find the answers to what 'hangs us up' in our own self-wallowing and bitter moments of self-criticism. We find the answers to these hang ups when we begin to use what God has given us to be a blessing in the lives of those around us. Just sayin!
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