by Dick Innes
Les Brown, an Emergency Technician, was driving home from a busy day at work when he heard an emergency call on his car 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 was not able to. 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, love 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."
This kind of love also cares, commits, communicates, and has compassion, all of which include involvement with others, and makes life worthwhile. Without this kind of love we may exist, but we cannot live life to the full.
Tests have shown that babies who don't receive sufficient love, care and holding can die. Teens and adults who don't feel loved can become very aggressive, withdrawn, depressed, suicidal, or end up in jail, or become victims of any of a number of addictive substances or practices all of which are a vain attempt to fill the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 nor they can become ill physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Some, feeling unloved feel powerless and overcompensate by using control as a poor substitute for empowerment. Others who didn't feel loved, especially as children, unconsciously seek to replace parental love in marriage. But as adults no spouse can ever meet their mate's unmet 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.
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 mature love that isn't contaminated with over dependent need.
Second, recovery begins when we admit the truth to our-selves, and to a few trusted friends, that we don't feel loved or we didn't feel loved as children and that we have spent too much time looking for love in wrong ways and 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 to.
Fourth, when feelings of loneliness and emptiness continually plague us we need to realize that the roots of these emotions often lie in love deprivation from childhood. If so, it is important not to attempt to anesthetize our pain through endless activity, performance, food, substance abuse, etc. What is needed is healthy re-parenting. What we didn't receive as a child we need to receive now.
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 received it. We don't want to feel sorry for ourselves either, but take full responsibility for our own re-parenting and getting our needs met in healthy ways, and not expect anybody else to do this for us.
Sixth, to re-parent our self we need to be genuinely open and honest in safe, trusted, non-judgmental and affirming relationships (non-romantic) with both sexes, and keep accountable to these people. When we admit our weaknesses to these people, we find we are loved and accepted exactly as we are. Because of this, little by little we learn to love and accept ourselves. Only to the degree that we do this are we able to love and accept anybody else. An effective way to do this is in a twelve-step recovery group.
Seventh, for those who have been abused, especially physically or sexually, it is essential to get good counseling to resolve your fear so you can discover how to discern and receive healthy love and learn to trust again.
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.
Especially at Christmas and Easter we are reminded just how much God does love us. In sending his Son, Jesus, to earth as a babe and then die on the cross to pay the penalty for every sin you and I have ever or will ever commit is a profound demonstration of God's love for you and me. To experience this love we need to accept 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.
We need to constantly remind ourselves of, and thank God for, his love for us and ask him to help us love and accept ourselves as he does.
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!"