One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
– Mark 12:28-31
I grabbed the following passage from Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer. It struck me, not because I have a fear of being rejected, but because I seem to search out and embrace people who exhibit the traits mentioned in the passage.
Fear of Being Rejected Causes Rejection of Others
If you cannot believe that you are basically a lovable, valuable person, you will be unable to trust others who claim they love you. If you believe that you must be perfect to be worthy of love and acceptance, then you are a candidate for a miserable life, because you will never be perfect as long as you are in an earthly body.
You may have a perfect heart, in that your desire is to please God in all things, but your performance will not match your heart’s desire until you get to heaven. You can improve all the time and keep pressing toward the mark of perfection, but you will always need Jesus as long as you are here on this earth. There will never come a time when you will not need His forgiveness and His cleansing blood.
Unless you accept your value and worth by faith through Christ, you will always be insecure and unable to trust those who want to love you. People who have no capacity to trust suspect the motives of others. I know this is true because I had a real problem in this area. Even when other people told me they loved me, I was always waiting for them to hurt me, disappoint me, fail me, or abuse me. I figured that they must be after something; otherwise, they would not be nice to me. I just could not believe that anyone would want me just for myself. There had to be some other reason!
I felt so bad about myself, was so full of shame, condemnation, self-hatred, and self-rejection, that whenever anyone tried to show me love and acceptance, I thought to myself, “Well, if this person likes me now, he won’t when he gets to know the real me.” Therefore I would not receive love from other people, or from God. I deflected it by my behavior, which became more and more obnoxious as I set out to prove to everyone that I was as unlovable as I believed myself to be.
Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside. If you feel unlovely and unlovable, that is how you will behave. In my case, I believed that I was not lovable, so that is how I acted. I was very difficult to get along with. I believed that other people would eventually reject me, and so they usually did. Because my attitude was manifested in my actions, I could not sustain healthy, loving, lasting relationships.
Reading that passage brought one question to mind, a question I imagined God asking me – asking us all: Can I love you?
I am a beggar. Are you?
Some people beg for love. Others beg for the opportunity to love in hope of reaping such devotion. I used to beg for love by offering love. Have you ever found yourself begging someone to let you love them? “Can I love you” seems to be the common unspoken question in all my relationships. My way of loving is giving. Giving of myself, my time, my resources. I open my heart, my home, my life to people. I focus on their needs, their comfort, their situation. Can I love you is the hidden question when I ask What can I do for you? What will make your day better? What do you need in your life? Can I love you is what I’m asking when I open my ears and my heart to your troubles. When I embrace you in greeting and farewell. When I offer to fill a need you haven’t even recognized yet.
Can I love you sounds so pathetic, I think, when heard with ears not filtered by the love of God. Some of my beggar years were painful because I didn’t want to appear pathetic, I didn’t want to appear needy. I didn’t want to appear ridiculous begging someone to allow me to love them. Those shameful days of hiding my need to love are over. I’m open and unapologetic with my loving now. I’m okay if you don’t want to receive it. I won’t break down if you don’t know how to reciprocate it. I no longer expect an answer to my question. Like any other beggar, I’ve learned that many will cross my path, a few will stop and make a deposit into my life, some will pause to share a kind word. Others will glance my way while continuing on theirs, but throngs will never notice me at all. The life of a beggar is hard; it’s thankless. But we still give thanks for each person we touch and double thanks for each person who reach out to touch us back.
Can I love you? I want to love you. I want to share the light and grace God has blessed my life with. His love is so wonderfully magnificent I can’t contain it. Neither can you. You can’t hoard it. You can’t wrap your mind or your heart around it. But you can channel it. You can pass it on. You can share it. You can give it. There are no requirements, no rules, no standards. You can bestow your gift of love on family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, strangers – anybody and everybody. That’s the beauty of it – it multiplies with use. You loose nothing by living in love but you gain so much with each interaction.
Don’t be too proud to beg, it’ll do your spirit good!