A Motive to Love.

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You cannot give away what you do not have. The majority of my life what I thought was love was actually dependency, needing a person to give me what I thought I needed, instead of getting it from God. I was not loving others, but needing them. When God is the central source of my life I can truly love another human being freely because I believe “Love does not demand its own way”. [1]

If I go to God to be my source for love I find it in abundance, then can I enter relationships with something to give away. This is what true intrinsic motivation to love looks like, it comes from a place of total freedom… I love you just because I do—not expecting anything in return. Love that is given conditionally so that I get something in return is not true love but manipulation. This is being selfish and it is not about loving you well, but all about me.

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When I feel lonely, abandoned, isolated, wounded or hurt my motivation becomes tested. It is in my pain that my true motivation is revealed. If my motivation is fear driven then when I am in the pressure of a crisis and feeling all those difficult feelings, I’m going to slip into my codependency. I continue to learn in my own struggles the unique and powerful difference between the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

What I have learned about myself is that I am really driven by the need of your approval and acceptance to make me feel lovable. I can be easily dependent on your approval and acceptance at the expense of being dishonest with you and myself. If God is my primary source for love then he is whom I seek for my value. Seeking fulfillment outside of God gets me in trouble. The pattern is I give to get which is functioning from a deficit and it is very dysfunctional.

If the truth will set me free, then the truth is nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. I must accept this truth and trust God will do for me what I cannot do for myself. God must become everything to me first, and then I can reach towards others with the gift of love, instead of the manipulation of neediness.

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Growing up, I always knew that when I went home someone would be there to love me no matter what. Like that love, Christ’s love for me is unconditional and I do not have to earn it. Daily, God is teaching me to love, transforming and pursuing me until I come home to him.

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:5 New Living Translation

Why I run from what I long for…

 

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Recently, I have been stuck in a pattern that I dislike: longing for intimacy, but being terrified of vulnerability. For me, there are two types of vulnerability: one type I bring into a small group; the second I bring to one-on-one relationship. In close personal relationship I am far more guarded. I am comfortable in group, but in one on one relationships, I retreat because the risk is so much greater. Vulnerability with those I’m closest with requires honesty and truth about what I am longing for and what my weaknesses are; it is here that I am most afraid. In truth, I am fully aware that you can use my vulnerability against me and choose to reject me.

Rejection would really hurt so I remain guarded, distant, disconnected, no intimacy in close relationships, and I remain lonely.

What I have come to realize is that I fiercely cling to what I know. Even though I may be suffering by clinging to dysfunction, I don’t do anything to change it. Instead, I continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I fear confronting a reality that I find unacceptable. But I accept it fearing that I will just make it worse if I try to change it.

This pattern becomes dangerous because I isolate and withdraw, then use some type of escape to fill the void, perpetuating resentment and self-pity. This pattern continues repeating with some small periods of relief like vacations or trips–but at the heart of it is loneliness. I stop trying to connect.

Brené Brown says, “Those who are vulnerable and risk pain and suffering from vulnerability live whole-heartedly; imperfect and wired for struggle, but worthy of love and belonging.”[1]

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What I am learning in this struggle is people deserve to know the truth. Yes, there is risk and potential suffering from sharing the truth, but it is the only path to being truly known. Isolation is the fertile soil of making bad choices to alleviate the pain. I can choose to suffer in isolation and silence withholding my truth from people, knowing that it will never bear fruit other than loneliness, or I can choose to suffer in the power of being known.

The very thing I run from is the very thing I long for.

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The only way I am going to grow and enter into the sacred place of intimacy is to risk truth in vulnerability. So I have decided that I am not going to suffer in isolation anymore, because vulnerability is the only path that leads to connection with others and ultimately myself.

 

[1] Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead