I’ve often viewed love as a two-way street. We share love through words of affirmation, supportive actions, and simply being present. And we can receive love in the same ways.
What I also realize is that love does not have to be a two-way street. Sometimes love flows one way with the sender giving love and the recipient receiving. In these instances there is no reciprocity.
While most of us would likely prefer, and even say we abide by the two-way street kind of love, what is more likely is that we alternate between the two. There are moments in life when we find ease in giving love to others, and even receiving. We accept God’s love, and reciprocate by giving thanks, giving praise, maybe finding ways to serve Him. And we do the same with our loved ones. They find ways to show love to us and we can’t help but want to give some in return.
But then there are those moments when we find ourselves on the one-way street, and not as the sender of love, but as the recipient. God, or someone else shows love and we don’t want to give any back. Sometimes we don’t even express gratitude. Maybe we don’t recognize we are being loved, or maybe we don’t care.
What makes these one-way streets even worse is when we decide to put up some sort of blockade. We separate ourselves from those trying to love us saying in effect, I don’t want any. How many times have we done this after a verbal spat with a loved one? How many times have we done this with God, choosing sin over His commandments?
Why We Sometimes Avoid What Matters Most
From time to time we need to be able to ask the question — am I blocking myself from love?
Love from God, love from others. If so, what can we do to change that?
During a time in America where people seek division before they seek connection, this is a good question to ask yourself. God did not intend for all of humanity to dislike one another. He did not request that we divide ourselves based on skin color, religion, or political parties. In fact, Jesus laid down two important truths for us. He identified the two greatest commandments and they both deal with love.
“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)
If we know then that love matters most, why do we at times find ourselves blocking love from entering our lives?
There are a number of different reasons why from time to time we find ourselves blocking the love of God and other people. There may be one reason or multiple. Surely the more aware of these issues we can be as Christians, the stronger our faith will become. Not only will we then strengthen our connection to God, but also others. With spiritual growth we will serve as stronger role-models for our fellow Christians and show unbelievers what our faith is all about.
Finding the root to our block can be difficult though. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Photo Credit: © SWN
“Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
When we choose pride over humility, we take a stance of pretending to be more self-sufficient than we are capable of as humans. Instead of recognizing good moments in life as God’s blessings, we treat them as our own individual triumphs. Yet, who are we without the loving, forgiving, and all-knowing Father?
Pride blocks us from love by making us think we can go through life on our own, but that is far from the truth. We need each other, and we need God.
“A greedy person stirs up conflict, but whoever trusts in the Lord will prosper.” (Proverbs 28:25)
Similar to pride, when we find ourselves giving in to greed, we take instead of give. In fact, all we want to do is take, take from God, take from others. We maintain clenched fists instead of open palms. Taking this approach in life prevents God from using us to spread His love.
If love is to be a two-way street, we can’t just take. We should also strive to give.
“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1)
Just as Adam was made from the earth in Genesis, God also brought him a companion. We need companions in our lives too, whether in the form of family, friends, a partner. When we live isolated lives, keeping to our islands, we stop others from loving us. We shield ourselves from any vulnerability and therefore any potential relationship.
Opening Yourself Up to Love
The only way to overcome these problematic areas of our life is to increase self-awareness. We can achieve this through a number of different ways. Here are a few.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The more we pray and talk to God, the greater we sustain a relationship with him. While He wants a relationship with us, how we respond to Him is our own choice. Choosing to pray to God constantly is like choosing to constantly communicate with a family member or a friend. You nurture any relationship by what you put into it.
When we nurture our relationship with God, we experience His love more, but also return some of that love.
2. Reading Scripture
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Reading God’s Word steeps us in the wisdom that comes from the one who is love. We need his wisdom and insight to grow in what it means to truly be loved. We can’t fully love others if we don’t know what it means to be fully loved ourselves. And as God’s Word reveals, God sees something worth loving in us.
With greater wisdom, we will be more aware of the problem areas in our lives that draw us away from love. With greater self-awareness we can take appropriate steps to changing our behaviors, and start recognizing ways to let love in.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Change is doable when we are by ourselves, but is so much more possible in a community of other believers. When we find others who can encourage us, we can also rely on them as resources of advice and accountability. Knowing we are not alone offers a reminder that love is not just something to receive, but something to give.
These are but a few ways to recognize how we block ourselves from love. The greater love we can both share and receive, the closer we will come to fulfilling the two greatest commandments.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/aapsky
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.
Want more interaction with the women of iBelieve? Join our fans, writers, and editors at the iBelieve Facebook group, Together in Faith, for more videos, stories, testimonies, prayers and more. Visit here to join the community!