Training in Love II: Know That You Are Loved


One of the first exercises in the Ignatian Retreat I attended was to focus on the fact that as unlovable as we tend to see ourselves, we are, nevertheless loved. This step was necessary before anything else could be done because recognizing that you are loved unconditinally makes it possible for you to let go of things that you tend to hold onto. For example, it made it far easier to feel contrition. You feel far worse for a trespass against a loving Father than you feel for rebellion against a stern tyrant with an iron fist. You are far more inclined to do something for the former than for the latter. And finally, there is the realization that if there is something truly lovable about you, despite your wretchedness, perhaps the same hold trues for the rest of creation. Perhaps service is not only an option, but a requirement. Perhaps others are as worthy of God's love as you, and perhaps, if they are worthy of God's love, they are worthy of your own weak reflection of it.

The meditation served other purposes in the grueling thirty-two week effort, as well. But it was most important for starting with the proper focus, "God loves me as I am, despite WHAT I am." When this really sinks in, the world begins to change. If it is so, then perhaps I will act in conformity with that love--perhaps I will act lovable to be loved. Perhaps I will love others as a share in this divine love.

Take time out to realize that God does love you. Take moments to see evidences of it. Be aware of the grace that surrounds your life. To use the stock terminology--"count your blessings." But really do it. This flows naturally from yesterday's thanksgiving litany. As you are giving thanks for each of these things, recognize in each one the sign of the Father's all encompassing love. Embrace each one as a cherished gift from the Father and send back a heart full of thanks.

Knowing that God loves you is opening a necessary door to love. But really knowing that God loves you takes much more work than you might think. You must break through years of knowledge of your own unlovableness. You must accept and embrace that as part of you. You must know that the Father loves you tenderly as though you were the only person in existence--His only Son or Daughter.

If you are a parent think of the things your child did as an infant or toddler that defaced, destroyed, dirtied, or otherwise diminished those cherished things around you. And yet, you did not stop loving this child of yours. So too with all the things we hold against ourselves. God does not stop loving us. He picks us up, washes us off, if we're lucky He uses His minister to help guide us, and then sends us on our ways. We are dirtied, but He loves us nonetheless. Dig below your own unforgiveness of self and find there the image of His Son, whom He cherishes and bestows upon us. Know that you are loved and you are lovable because He loves you.

The first step to loving is accepting love and knowing what it looks like and what it does. Learn from the Father who showers every blessing upon us. We all are loved, and in His eyes, despite our terrible rebelliousness and sin, we are all lovable. We are worthy of this love because He loves us.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 26, 2003 8:22 AM.

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