Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. -1 John 4:7
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. -Ephesians 2:8-10
Each person was created in the image of God and therefore carries God’s reflection. Is this what you see when you look at yourself or your family and friends? For some of us it is a challenge to see and love those around us. For others, it is more difficult to love ourselves. If these challenges resonate with you, remember that our God is alive and active, an ever present help in our need. Below are ideas for inviting God to help us in our weakness.
From spouses who irritate, to children who seem ungrateful, and coworkers who aggravate, it can be challenging to see another person as God’s workmanship. If this sounds like you, here are some things that might help:
- Admit to God that you’re having a hard time loving the person. Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath and slow down. Then describe your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to God. For example, if you’re feeling angry, tell God about your anger, and ask the Holy Spirit for insight.
- After you tell God about how you’re struggling, reflect on what it is about the other person that makes it so hard to love them, such as, the words the person has spoken to you or consider situations that have been particularly challenging. What does this say about you, your own brokenness and where you need God to heal you? Ask God for wisdom and understanding to see yourself and the other person more clearly.
- Next, switch to considering the situation from the other person’s perspective and pray for God’s help to see their standpoint more clearly. Can you enter into their world and feel what it might be like in their shoes? Can you see how God might be working in them or how they might be hurting and in need of your love?
- Lastly pray for compassion and love for the other person. Set your intentions on love, committing yourself to compassion and seeking God’s will.
For others, we may need to remember to see God in ourselves. You were made in the image of God and you reflect Him. He loves you, in your weakness and failing, and in your triumph and strength. In fact, He chose you when you were still far from Him, loving you before you loved Him. You will never be “good enough” and you can never be separated from the love of God. All the pressure you feel to prove your love to God may in fact be getting in the way of simply being with Him and enjoying His presence in your life.
If this sounds like you, here are some things you can do:
- Admit this to God in prayer. Tell Him about your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and needs. Tell Him how you long for Him and how you have trouble seeing yourself as worthy of His love.
- After you pour yourself out to Him, allow His word to fill you up. Sit in His presence and allow His love to flow into you. If silence is too much, go to His word. Pick your favorite verse or Psalm (Maybe Psalm 8 or 103, or Ephesians 2:4-10), or even Christian song about the love of God. Allow it to speak God’s loving voice to you.
- Lastly commit yourself to Him. Remind yourself of God’s strength, power, and presence. Set your intention to listen to His word for you and to live in His strength instead of your own.