The Power of Love

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Les Brown, an Emergency Technician, was driving home from a busy day at work when he heard an emergency call on his care radio scanner. A child was choking and in need of immediate help.

The police dispatched a rescue squad but Les, realizing he was only a few blocks away, knew that he could get there sooner. He radioed the police to tell them that he was also on the way. When he tried to exit the freeway, he couldn't. A large caterpillar tractor had dug a deep trench right across the exit.

Les pulled to the side, jumped from his car and yelled to the tractor driver, "There's a baby in trouble down the street. I have to get there urgently!"

Immediately, the man filled in a large part of the trench he'd spent all day digging, packed the fill down and waved Les across. Les rushed to where the call came from. There he found a frantic mother waiting for help to arrive. The baby she was holding had turned purple. Les grabbed the child, put him over his knee and carefully hit him on the back and out popped a button from his mouth. Much to the mother's relief, the child breathed again.

On the way home the following evening Les noticed the tractor working at the same exit so he pulled over to tell the driver what had happened. When the man saw him, he jumped from his tractor and this time he yelled to Les, "The baby you saved yesterday ... That was my baby! Mine! Mine!"

Here we see genuine love in action and such love has many facets. In the powerful words of Scripture, it is patient, thoughtful, kind and forgiving. It isn't jealous, proud, boasting, self-seeking, rude or easily angered. Nor does it keep a record of wrongs. "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It never fails."1

This kind of love cares, commits, communicates and has compassion–all of which include involvement–and makes life worthwhile. Without this kind of love we may exist, but we cannot live life to the full.

Only loved people find mature love.

Both experience and scientific tests have shown that babies who don't receive sufficient love, care and holding can die. Children who don't feel loved can become very aggressive or withdrawn. Teenagers may end up depressed, suicidal, on drugs, or in jail. Adults can become victims of any of a number of addictive substances or practices all of which are a vain attempt to fill the empty hole in their heart and deaden the pain of their hollow lives. Or they can become very ill – physically, emotionally and/or spiritually.

Some who don't feel loved, feel inadequate and powerless and often use control as a poor substitute for empowerment.

Others who didn't feel loved, especially as children, unconsciously seek to replace parental love in romantic relationships and marriage. But no spouse can ever meet their mate's unmet childhood need for mother or father-love. Others substitute sex for love and leave a trail of victims in their attempt to fill their empty void and avoid facing the cause of their emptiness and loneliness.

How then can we find the love we need and be genuinely empowered for life?

First, realize that the answer is not found in fame, fortune, popularity, sex, exciting "bells and whistle" romance, achievement or approval but through recovery. The harsh reality is that only loved people find true love, and in the words of another, "We find it within or we find it not!"

Second, recovery begins when we admit the truth to ourselves and to a trusted friend or two – that we don't feel loved or we didn't feel loved as children and that we have spent too much effort looking for love in all the wrong places.

Third, we also need to realize that we build up a considerable amount of anger, shame, hurt and grief over the loss of love we never received. We need to get in touch with all these buried emotions and get rid of them by expressing them creatively and, if necessary, with the help of a trusted counselor. If we don't do this, we will inevitably take these emotions out on the ones we are closest too.

Fourth, when overwhelming feelings of loneliness and emptiness continually plague us, we need to realize that their roots often lie in love deprivation from childhood. If so, it is important not to attempt to deaden or anesthetize our pain through endless activity, over busyness, performance, sex, or any food or substance abuse, etc. What is needed is healthy re-parenting and getting our needs met in healthy ways – and not expect others to fill the empty void in our life.

Fifth, when we come to the realization that we didn't receive sufficient parental love, we're not looking to blame our parents because they could only give love to the degree that they had been loved. We don't want to feel sorry for ourselves either, but take responsibility for our re-parenting and getting our needs met in healthy ways – and, again, not expect anybody else to do this for us.

Sixth, to re-parent ourselves we need to be genuinely and courageously open and honest in safe, trusted, non-judgmental, and affirming relationships (non-romantic) and keep accountable to these people. When we admit our weaknesses to safe people, we find we are loved and accepted exactly as we are. Through their love and acceptance, little by little we learn to love and accept ourselves in a healthy way. Only to the degree that we feel loved and accepted are we able to love and accept anybody else. One effective way to do this is in a safe twelve-step recovery group.

Seventh, for those who have been abused, physically, emotionally, spiritually and/or sexually, it is essential to get counseling in order to resolve our fear so we can learn how to discern and receive healthy love and trust again.

Divine Love
Eighth, above all we need to realize just how much God, the Heavenly Father, loves and accepts us exactly as we are so we can experience and feel his love and affirmation at the very core of our being.

Every year, especially at Christmas and Easter, we are reminded more than ever just how much God does love us. In sending his Son, Jesus, to come to earth and be born in a manger in Bethlehem and then die on the cross to pay the penalty for every sin you and I have ever or ever will commit, is a profound demonstration of God's love for you and me. To know and feel this love we need to start by accepting God's gift of forgiveness by confessing our sins to him and inviting Jesus to come into our heart and life as personal Lord and Savior.

And then we need to constantly remind ourselves of and thank God for his great love for us and pray that we will learn to love and accept ourselves as he loves and accepts us. It is also helpful to picture yourself as a child being held in the arms of Jesus and being blessed by him as he did the children when he was here on earth.

These steps take time, but follow them faithfully and you will, in time, find the love your heart yearns to find. And then you will be able to say to Jesus, "The life you saved is mine! Mine!"

1. See 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.

By Dick Innes

© 2001 ACTS International. Used by permission.