What the world needs now, is L-O-V-E

Ok, my apologies to all of you who will now be singing all day one of Dionne Warwick's most famous songs! But seriously, IT'S SUCH A GREAT SONG!

"What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of.

It is true. The thing in this world we lack most is L-O-V-E. We humans, as a collective group, have somewhere along the way lost the ability to TRULY love. And before you get all bent out of shape with me, I am not saying we don't love each other. I am saying, that we lack enough love and we lack the condition-less kind of love. The kind of love where it doesn't matter who you are, you are loved and loved deeply. The kind of love that makes a stranger feel all ooey and gooey inside! We can't even smile at a stranger sometimes! Honestly, some of us need a laxative, we're so uptight! But if giving a simple smile to someone costs us too much, then how do we expect to love in a world-changing kind of way? More importantly, how do we expect to truly love others, if we first aren't able to truly love ourselves? 

While I was writing The Identity of Purity: A Teenage Girl's Guide to Sexual PurityI recalled a moment in my childhood when my parents finally gave me the doll I had been asking for and wanted so badly. Ok...here's an excerpt from chapter 3:

"When I was about the age of seven or eight, Cabbage Patch Kid dolls were just coming out. I wanted one so badly, I think I cried when I didn't get it for my birthday. My parents knew I wanted one. I even felt a little ignored by them because I couldn't understand why they didn't get it for me if they knew it was what I wanted. But I didn't know they were actually planning to get it for me all along - just not for my birthday, but for Christmas, a couple of short months away from my birthday. That Christmas I got that chubby, dimple-faced doll with brown yarn for hair, and I was SO ecstatic. I adored that doll. I slept with it for several years until I thought I was officially too old to sleep with dolls around 11 years old or so. It's funny how we can get so attached to an inanimate object with no life in it. "Xavier", as I affectionately called him, was a gift of stuffing and material. No life was in it, and frankly, my parents only got it for me because they knew I wanted it so badly. But they knew I didn't NEED that doll."

This story brings to my mind how amazing I felt receiving that doll and how loved it made me feel. As an adult, I know that my parents gave me that doll because they felt it would bring me happiness, even if only for a short time. And again, as an adult, I realize that while I don't have as much of a desire for temporary, material, things as gifts anymore, there is one gift I will receive and bask in for the rest of my life. That is the most valuable gift ever: L-O-V-E. Love. The thing we need most...and yet, we have such trouble receiving it from others. We have trouble receiving it, and therefore, have trouble giving it, because it is impossible to give what you do not have within to give. 

Guilty. I am the first to admit I've had trouble with this. And yes, I still struggle when I feel more rejection over love from those around me. It makes me want to retreat and not give to anyone ever again. I understand the feeling of needing to protect myself from hurt. The issue with walking around with an iron-clad shield over our hearts, not letting others love on us in case they also hurt us in some way, is that we aren't able to fill ourselves up with the most valuable ingredient to make this world a better place. Next thing you know, we're walking around with a frown instead of a smile and literally have so little to offer this world. 

Let's take this one step further, shall we? What happens when we don't allow ourselves to accept the single most powerful gift of love ever? This love I speak of, is the gift of love from God, the Father...Jesus. This gift is free! This gift is whole! This gift of love is unlike any other! I have had to check myself when I feel rejected and tell myself "Nope. Not doing it. I'm not giving this person any more of my love because it hurts too bad when they don't receive it". THEN - CONVICTION.  I know that even when Jesus was rejected, spat upon and scorned, he still decided to love. He still decided to give his life for the very people who led him to be brutally crucified. 

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

It's one thing to not receive love from others because of whatever walls and insecurities are present. But denying yourself of the greatest love of all is paralyzing. It literally paralyzes you from living your best life. Talk about self-sabotage! The sacrificial love shown by Christ is transformative. When it is received fully, it has the power to heal. It has the power to forgive. It has the power to allow you to do unimaginable things. You begin to see the world through HIS eyes. You see those hurting when others can't. You want the kinds of things that HE wants. Essentially, when we have accepted in great depth the love of Jesus, we have more of a capacity to love as He did! 

Are you one, who like the old me, struggles with receiving Christ's love fully? Do you feel you don't deserve it? Do you believe that you'll be expected to pay Him back somehow? Maybe, you're just not sure how to actually receive a love so great! That is fair! It's not like receiving a material gift and saying, "Thanks!" Receiving the love of Christ is an act of belief! When I began to believe that truly Jesus loved me so much that he died for me, (John 3:16), I could hold my head up a little taller and open myself up to love others and BE loved by others!

"We are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. " - Romans 8:37-39

Do you believe that you are "more than a conqueror" through this great love? Do you live your life like you believe it? If you do, you are drinking in that love just as God hoped you would when he sent His son Jesus! I challenge you today, to begin to live your life in the knowledge of his love and all it has provided for you! That is how you receive fully the love of Jesus! As you do so, because His love is in you, you will then be able to TRULY love others. (1 John4:9-16)

Here's to believing in all that Christ did and made available to us through His love for us! Here's to having such the capacity to love that we, first of all, will be able to TRULY love ourselves. Lastly, here's to doing the things that display the incomparable, unconditional love of Christ. Because Dionne was right...What the world needs now is love, sweet love! 






Rhianna Sanford