5 Steps to Letting God Love You

Apparently, it’s common blogging knowledge that people like lists. Who knew? Bloggers are suggested to write posts like “Top 10 Famous…” or “5 Easy Ways to…”. Personally, I’m not much of a fan of a step-by-step approach to spirituality – but I can’t help but like the convenience of a how-to checklist. So, here’s mine, a kind of companion to last week’s post:

5 Steps to Letting God Love You

1.) Be open and honest. This may seem like two steps, but it’s really only one. If you really want to let God love you, so that you may become the person that you were created to be, then you must look up from the closed in darkness of your little life to honestly assess all around you. And within you. Being truthful is the most important step to letting God fully into your life, because God is Truth. Know the truth is that you are not in this life alone. There are people all around you in a great big world created by the Infinite/Eternal One. Be brave enough to open your little eyes and your little ears to truly see and hear.

2.) Be not afraid of your limitations. You are small, weak, and imperfect. This is a true fact that your open honesty should be able to perceive. There are some things that you simply cannot do. For example, I cannot walk. And there are some things in your life that you simply cannot change, like the mistakes of your past, the wrongs that have been done to you, etc.. Too many self-help guides to happiness want you to live “without limitations”. But there are some limits that are truly and inexorably LIMITS. There is no shame in this. Every person has limitations! Just being human comes with its own set. So, know yourself, and accept the fact that there are some things that you simply can’t change. It’s okay. This is part of humility. When you bravely acknowledge your littleness, you open yourself up to the greatness of God.

3.) Desire forgiveness. Since you can’t go back in time and undo the mistakes of your past, you need to accept them and forgive. Mistakes that others have made that impacted you also need to be accepted and those in error forgiven. Sins, too, must be honestly acknowledged. Be not afraid! Rather, repent of all of those times that you chose to be unloving, that you chose to close yourself off from God’s love, and ask God to forgive you. Desiring His forgiveness, you will certainly receive – then, forgive yourself. Knowing that God desires to forgive all, forgive those who have sinned against you. Without this step, there will be no love in your heart.

4.) Trust. Each step that you take requires bravery – know that God is right beside you, holding on to you. Trust that God’s love is the answer to every problem, the healing balm for every wound, the inspiration for, and safeguard of, every practical action that you need to take in order to become a fulfilled human being. Trust that the difficult, unchangeable things that come into your life can never, ever take you away from the goodness and joy of God’s love – unless you let them. Don’t let them. Instead, let go of your desire for control and let God take over. Let God love… forgive… heal… lead… through you. You are never alone!

5.) Be generous. Receiving God’s forgiveness, receiving God’s love, you must share it with others! True love can never be bottled up and kept to yourself, or it will become stagnant and poisonous. Rather, true love must flow. God is infinitely pouring His Divine love into you. When you are honestly and mercifully open enough to receive that love, then you will naturally and joyfully overflow with it, giving God’s love to all that you meet. This doesn’t simply mean that you will tell other people “God loves you.” Being generous requires much more than words. Give your whole self away and do not be afraid! You can never run out of true love. So, choose to generously love your fellow human beings – family and friends, neighbors and strangers, even the people that you don’t like very much. Be truthful and know that every person that you encounter is beloved by God, intimately and infinitely. Treat every person that way. Honor every person’s sanctity and eternal beauty – eternal beauty that is seen clearly by God if not by you.
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Putting It into Practice

Let God love that irritating person through you. How, you may ask? Following the steps, like this:

+ Accept the truth that this person is sacred and eternally loved by God.

+ Note, not only the person’s shortcomings, but also, most importantly, your own.

+ Forgive that person for not understanding, for being angry, slow, lazy, ignorant, mean, impatient – for you know perfectly well that there will be many times when you will need someone to forgive you.

+ Now, trust that this situation is completely seen and known by God and that it is good for you, that it is a moment full of God’s flowing love – if you are open to it.

+ Smile and be generous with the love and wisdom that God has given to you, accepting, empathizing, forgiving, and believing in the goodness of the irritating person, being generous with your time, talents, efforts, goodness, and your unshakable joy from God….
clipart relieved-face

When this works out the way you want it to, be grateful. When this doesn’t work out the way you want it to, be grateful. God’s love is in this situation, no matter what. And you know that this is true because God made it happen – and, by the grace of God, you let it happen. You chose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit – you chose to let God love.

There. Now for me to live it …

© 2016 Christina Chase


You may also like:

 Who God Loves More  (last week’s post)

Mercy Is Joy or It Is Nothing

 Righteous Not Riotous

The Heavy Laden One

 Obedience Is Nothing without Love

 

Who God Loves More

Because of my physical disability and suffering, some have strongly suggested to me that God loves me more than other people.

Yeah, I don’t think so.

I’m a sinner just like you.

And even though there was a time when I rolled my eyes at anyone who said “God loves you”, this post is precisely about God’s love – for me, for you, for everybody. It is a re-presentation of the gift that was given to me (through inspiration) a couple of years ago during Lent. I had wondered for years how God could love everyone and, yet, not everyone would be saved. Did Christianity actually teach that there were some people that God loved more than others? Short answer: no. Long answer… well, read on…

Why God Loves Anyone At All

We may think that God loves us because we have professed belief in His Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ and/or because we do good things that are kind to others. But, that’s not why God loves us. God doesn’t love me because I smile despite being physically disabled and in a wheelchair. God doesn’t love you because you praise His Holy Name from a pulpit or in a blog. God doesn’t love them because they are poor and simple or them because they are successful and generous. Nope.

God loves each and every human being because God loves each and every human being. God loves because that’s what God does, because that is exactly who God is.

We have done nothing, and can do nothing, to deserve or merit God’s love – because God has already done it for us. We are lovable precisely because God independently chooses to bring us into being through His Own Creative Love. God loved us enough to take on our humanity and die for us through Christ our Lord. It is for this reason that no human being is worthless. For this sacred reason – and for this sacred reason alone – every human being is valuable, is precious.

We should never think of ourselves as any greater than this. And we should never think of ourselves as any less than this, not even when we sin.

Loved by God Is Who We Are

You know that person who really hurt you and doesn’t even seem to realize how badly, even though you tried to explain it to her? God loves that person intimately and infinitely. You know that person who is always so arrogant and says such cruel things about other people? God loves that person intimately and infinitely. God takes no joy in their sins – God takes no joy in our sins – but He eternally loves sinners. That means that God eternally loves us, each and every human being no matter what we do – no matter how badly we screw up His Commandments or how well we keep them.

Why, then, do we believe that some people go straight to heaven and others do not? What makes the difference of whether or not we will be holy lies in how we answer one question. It is a question we must each ask of ourselves:

Will I allow God to love me?

Maybe you thought that I was going to write that the question is whether or not we will choose to love God. I thought about it. But, then I wordlessly remembered in my heart (or the wordless memory was pushed forward for me) that we love because God first loved us[1]. The only reason that we can love anyone or anything at all is because God loves us. So, even if I want to love God, I must first let God love me.

Letting God Love

What does that mean?

It means that I have to acknowledge and accept who I am – who I truly, honestly, and eternally am: made with and for Love, loved intimately and infinitely by God. Then I can let God forgive me, heal me of my wounds, comfort me in my sufferings, and guide me in my decisions – knowing that God will always lead me to the best place.

Letting God love means that I must acknowledge and accept that every human being is also intimately and infinitely loved by God. And I must ask myself if I love others as God loves them. Do I treat my fellow human beings as sacred and beloved? Do I open up my heart and allow God to love my fellow human beings through me, through my words and actions?

Love cannot be bottled up and kept to myself or it will becomes stagnant. Love must flow.

Countless times I have allowed my annoyances, fears, anger, habits, and self-centered desires to lead me to say “No” to God’s Love. In so doing, I turned away from my own identity. I put up a barrier. I refused to give myself to the flow of love… to forgive, to heal, to strengthen, to comfort, to honor. I miss the mark, I sin.

That is why life can be ultimately dissatisfying. That is why, during the 40 days of the Lenten season, we, who acknowledge our unlove, are mournfully repentant, longing for forgiveness and newness of life. Forgiveness and Newness of Life are precisely what God wants to give to us through His Love – precisely what Christ brings to us through his Passion and Resurrection.

God wants us to be restored to our true selves. The Holy Days of Lent and Easter are a gift from God to help us remember, anew, that we are all divinely loved.

So, let us each ask ourselves:

Will I let God love?

I am only human, and, as such, I can only do so much. But, God can do everything. Will I let Him? Because the thing is… God loves me enough never to force me.

© 2016 Christina Chase


[1] 1 John 4:19

Politics and the Human Person

For whom do I vote? That is the question. As an independent voter in New Hampshire, with presidential primaries around the corner, it’s a very pressing question.

I am so grateful for what I have – especially right now with my dad recovering well from two surgeries and my undauntable mother giving her all – and happy with my life and home. But, that’s not enough. Self-centeredness is sin. I must consider my neighbors and their well-being, too. Are they suffering from some great unfairness? Are there starving people whom I could help or people who are in danger of being killed whom I could save? I cannot sit content with my own little lot, ignoring the plight of others. If there is something that we, as a society, can do together to help someone in need, then we should do it. And, reasonably, helping those who are vulnerable will help me when I am vulnerable, too. For much of the goodness of my life is safeguarded by a society that addresses the needs of the disabled – like me.

But, the goodness itself comes from God.

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Nobody can guarantee happiness for anybody else. No government can solve every problem of the governed. We are created to seek the good and we create governments to help safeguard our right to seek it. Human rights are given by God, not the government – and no legitimate government can take them away. In the democratic republic of the United States, it is the responsibility of the people to vote to ensure that our government does what it should do and does not do what it should not do.

I was raised with a sense of civic responsibility. I will definitely be voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary. But, for whom will I vote… well, I, like so many of us in New Hampshire, am still undecided. I don’t consider myself a member of either the Democratic or Republican parties – I don’t want to be a member of any party. I’m an independent.

And I have no candidate.

It doesn’t help that I am both proenvironment and pro-life. Why don’t these two things go together in politics? I really don’t understand. If I want to protect all wildlife and natural habitats, if I am passionately against destruction and waste, then shouldn’t I also want to protect all human life, passionately defending people from being dehumanized and killed? And, yet, I so often have great difficulty in finding a candidate who shares my passion. Someone who doesn’t want government and paid employees to become more important and relevant than charities and volunteers. Someone who knows that the willingness to pay higher taxes isn’t the same as loving kindness for the person next to you. Someone who understands that the definition of a human person should not be based upon appearances or levels of dependency and ability.

It would also be nice to have someone who truly appreciates the value of every dollar, isn’t conceited, is brave and honest, and doesn’t fall into petty bickering and party politics.

But now I really ask too much.

If you have a candidate that you are passionately supporting, then you could probably tell me exactly how your candidate fits all that I need. But, you really can’t. No one person can fulfill my every need for a leader. That is why our society isn’t comprised of just one leader. Different parts of society look after different needs, like families, religious organizations, neighborhood communities, governments (local, state, and federal) and charities. They each have an important role to play, just as we each have an important role to play. That’s my very basic understanding of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. (It’s way more complex than that, but, basically, if your elderly neighbor needs her driveway shoveled, shovel it if you can, or get your kids or grandkids to do it. This will not only be good for her driveway, but also good for her heart and soul – and yours, and your kids’, and your grandkids’. For those elderly people who are snowed in and don’t have good neighbors or family members, come together with your community to work out a program to fulfill their needs. Volunteers will be best. Legislated programs with paid employees should only be last resort.)

faithful citizenship

usccb.org

 

Anyway…

A national president is very important. But, we should never let everything ride on him or her. That would not be good governing – I think both parties can agree on that. But, I guess I really wouldn’t know. I’m not a party person (in more ways than one, she said with a smirk.)

This is what I comfort myself with when I have great difficulty picking a presidential candidate. All that I can do is the best that I can, staying as true as I can to my conscience. I’m not deciding the fate of the world with this vote. But… in the living of my day-to-day life, I should be more conscious of the consequences of my actions on my family, my neighbors, as well as my town, my state, my nation, and my world. We’re all in this together.

© 2016 Christina Chase

Humble Preparations

I see this image as a visual reminder for us to make our humble preparations for Christmas. Too often are we caught up in the big, the bright, and the busy, forgetting that God came among us in the quiet bareness of a stable. We need to be likewise silent and open, with our hands empty so that we may be able to receive His Presence, His love and mercy, into our hearts and into our lives.

Like the placing of straw in a worn feeding trough, let us make our humble preparations: small acts of selflessness and sacrifice in kindness to strangers; forgiveness, forbearance, and even appreciation for runny noses, noisy neighbors, and the trials of everyday life; whispered, wordless prayers from the heart, taking just a moment to lift up our eyes in gratitude, hope, faith, and praise.

In the busyness of this season, let us be mindful of the Infant Messiah, helplessly wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in his humble manger-crib. May our hearts be as lowly and lovely as this place – fit for the King of Kings…

Christmas king-size bed

© 2015 Christina Chase

Respect Life – What Does That Mean?

You may or may not know this, but – October is Respect Life Month. This is certainly not as “mainstream” as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which has even caused football players to wear pink, and which has become somewhat glamorous with all of the media attention. But, those pink ribbons could just as easily be worn for Respect Life Month. No, I wasn’t thinking of them as a representation of the estimated 1,500 little girls who are killed every day in the United States by abortion – every day…. I was thinking that breast cancer is frightening and something that we want to see cured, because we love and respect life.

Respect Life Month is not about one subject – unless that one subject is humankind.

Some of you may have rolled your eyes and felt indignant when you read the abortion statistic above, shutting your mind to another “pro-life” post. Some of you may have even stopped reading. For those of you who consider yourself to be “pro-choice” and are still reading this, I thank you and congratulate you. You have an open mind. Together, along with people who devote their lives to helping unexpectedly pregnant women to choose life for their unborn babies, let us really consider what it means to Respect Life.

What does it mean to respect life?

For those of you who may not really like to talk about God and such, just consider the throwaway society that we are becoming. Things are undervalued, rendered cheap, replaceable, disposable. But, knowing the importance and vulnerability of our common planet, we know that we cannot be wasteful, greedy, and selfish. There are consequences to our actions and life is too precious for us to be reckless in our living of it. Thus, the environmental message and warning is being sounded in many places: “Respect the Earth!” Rightly so.

We want to protect the environment, keeping the ecosystems of our air, food, and water healthy and vibrant because we love and respect life.

As a believing Christian of the universal Church (Catholic) I see that there is simple, profound, and beautiful consistency here. And it begins with the First Cause and Final End of all things…

Begin at the Beginning

Respecting life starts with this – God created everything. And God looked upon what he created and saw that it was good. God’s creation is beautiful. Matter matters to God and he loves everything that he has created. And God created human beings in his own divine image and likeness – that means that we have a uniquely intimate relationship with God among all of the living. God loves each and every human being intimately and infinitely. God gives each and every human being special gifts and purpose – whether we can see them or not. We are important to God. Every human being is sacred.

This truth is good for us to remember, especially when we’re down on ourselves. When you have setbacks or failures, difficulties and heartbreaks, know that you are intimately and infinitely loved by God. You are important to God. You are sacred.

Authentic Love of Self

This is true love of self – for we don’t learn to love ourselves because of our worldly accomplishments, good looks, or athletic abilities. I certainly don’t love myself because of these things! True love of self comes from knowing that God loves us. In fact, we can only love because God first loved us. With this love in mind, we reflect upon Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. For every human being is sacred, intimately and infinitely loved by God.

Do we look upon our fellow human beings and try to see them as God sees them?

If we did, then surely we would respect life. We would understand that every life is worth living because every human life is important to God, every human being is created for loving relationship. We are most truly and fully ourselves when we are in loving relationship with God – and with others, with our fellow human beings.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” And he did not tell us to love the good-looking, the accomplished, the athletically gifted, or the super intelligent. Jesus did not tell us to love the strong or the independently wealthy. He simply told us to love one another. And he simply showed us that those who we may think are unlovable are our true neighbors in need of love. Jesus bravely and affectionately loved the lepers, the little children, the mentally ill, the possessed, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the outsiders, and the poor. Jesus told us that whatever we do to the “least” we do to him. God identifies himself with the littlest and most vulnerable among us.

The elderly man who is lonely and in pain; the 40-year-old woman who is dying of cancer; the homeless man on the corner with a drug addiction and no shoes; the pregnant 19-year-old who is scared, confused, and desperate; the boy with Down syndrome whose mother doesn’t think he should live outside her womb; the twentysomething man who is about to be killed by the State; the young woman who is being physically abused by her boyfriend; the 16-year-old smuggled to the US in a shipping container, slaving at a sweatshop; the severely disabled veteran, overcome with depression, who wants to commit suicide… God is in each of these human beings. Do we see them as God sees them?

Each one of these people is sacred, loved by God infinitely and intimately. We are to love them as we love ourselves – we are to love ourselves as God loves us: unconditionally.

To respect life is not to meet people’s problems with death as the answer. It is to love. True love does not merely find expedient ends, but gives loving care, attention, and appreciation, to every human being.

We can’t live in a throwaway world.

© 2015 Christina Chase

What Does That Mean? The Law of Christ

An app for random Bible quotes spit out this piece of Scripture the other day:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”[1]

Briefly breaking it down:

What is the law of Christ? “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”[2]

And how does Christ love us? Christ loves us by bearing our burdens. The sorrows of the world are so heavy, heavy as the weight of the Cross upon the heart of God. Three times did Christ fall to his knees, fall to the pavement, fall flat on his face beneath the weight of our burdens. And then, he was nailed to that Cross and died.

Because he loves us, Christ carries our burdens and transforms them into ways to Heaven. No longer need we be weighed down by the burden of our cares, our sorrows and woes, our blood and our tears. We will not be ground into dust beneath the weight of suffering. No, rather, we will be lifted up. Christ bears our burdens with us, in love, and when we bear one another’s burdens, in solidarity with Christ’s love, then our sufferings – those sufferings that we carry as burdens of love – will open the portal of Paradise to us. Our heavy hearts, heavy with the weight of love, will be pierced open to silently reveal to us the sublime, profound glory of God’s endless love. With one true glimpse of the beatific vision, we would deeply know the abiding joy of peace. In loving one another as Christ loves us, in bearing each other’s burdens as Christ bore ours, we will die to self-centeredness as Christ died on the Cross, and we will be raised up to new life as Christ rose.

A foretaste of Paradise awaits us here in the burdens of those around us, near and far. That taste, that glimpse, will be wasted and lost if we don’t bear those burdens with our fellow human beings. If we don’t sympathize with the sorrowful and the confused and offer our hands for them to hold… if we don’t suffer with the hungry and offer our own bread for them to eat… if we don’t forgive the wicked and forbear the annoying… if we don’t administer to Christ when he is suffering in the least of our brothers and sisters with the same love and compassion with which he administered to us – then we will not fulfill the law of Christ. And by not fulfilling the law of Christ, we, ourselves, will not be fulfilled. We will not know the fulfillment of our souls, hearts, minds, and bodies. We will neither experience the wafting scent of Paradise now, nor live in the endless Bliss forever.

We need to be like Christ in what we say and do – in all that we are.

“Bear each other’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

© 2015 Christina Chase



[1] Galatians 6:2

[2] John 15:12