The deepest longing of the human heart is to be loved – specifically to be loved, accepted and valued for who we are and for the unique gifts we offer this world. One would think that this would be the easiest thing to accomplish – especially considering that we have an unconditionally loving God and parents who love us – right? (I’ll let you answer that one yourself!)
The degree to which we know ourselves as loved, accepted and valued for who we are and for the unique gifts we offer this world is directly proportional to the love we are shown in the early years of our life. For many, if not most, the love that we are shown in these formative years is limited at best.
For most, the first experience of love comes from our parents. While our parents are undoubtedly doing the best they can, they are only able to show love to the degree it was first shown to them. If they were abused as a child, criticized or condemned, or led in any way to believe they were anything less than love, the love they are able to show will be limited by these past experiences. This is true unless before (or during) their experience of being a parent they acknowledge the ways in which they experienced the limitations of love and healed the resulting wounds, thereby freeing them to show even more loving acceptance of their children because they now love and accept themselves. Additionally, every person has their own love language and their own unique temperament and the combination of these embodied by our parents might not be the language we need to hear to know we are loved. Finally, our parents are a product of their conditioning and what society said at the time was “good parenting.” (ie: it isn’t all our parents’ fault!)
The same is true of our “god.” If the religion in which we were raised preaches a god of infinite love and then crafts rituals and practices which reinforce that love, then we are golden! Here we know of a god who is loving and kind, generous and merciful and the tribe to which we belong treats us as such. For many, if not most, this has not been the case. Instead, the talk of god has been confusing mix of love and punishment, mercy and retribution, praise and shame, etc. This leaves us feeling anxious and confused and wondering where we sit with that which we call “God,” and the people who preach this “God.”
The same is true of our culture. We feel loved, supported and valued for who we are and for the unique gifts we bring to the world when we are raised in a culture that values diversity and then provides the necessary support in which the seeds of our gifts might mature and bear fruit. For most, this has not been our cultural experience. Instead, we are expected to conform to a culture that needs us to fit into tight little boxes where we can be controlled, all the while feeling rejected for who we truly are and the authentic gifts we have to bring to this world.
The same is true of our friends, co-workers, peers, etc. etc. etc. We will only experience the feeling of being loved, honored, supported and valued to the extent that they feel this love themselves. Sigh!
With all of this collective woundedness, where does this leave us? This leaves us among the several billion human beings longing to know love. This is the collective wound of the human experience – the gaping wound of emptiness and longing where love is meant to dwell. But, we need not remain in this place of wounded emptiness and longing. Fortunately, there are those who have gone before us who have successfully found their way through the labyrinthine journey that leads to love. By following their example and adhering to their guidance, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain….
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