An Expanding Love
Loving the “True You”
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
St. Patrick’s Day
I very much enjoyed my time with Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, when we worked together on the Reclaiming Jesus project and when I had dinner at his house in New York City. He reminds us why we must accept God’s love for us before we can love another:
I’ve come to see that the call of God, the love that bids us welcome, is always a call to become the true you. Not a doormat. The true you. Not an imitation of someone else. The true you: someone made in the image of God, deserving of and receiving love.
There is a Jewish proverb, “Before every person there marches an angel proclaiming, ‘Behold, the image of God.’” Unselfish, sacrificial living isn’t about ignoring or denying or destroying yourself. It’s about discovering your true self—the self that looks like God—and living life from that grounding. Many people are familiar with a part of Jesus’s summary of the law of Moses: You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself [Mark 12:31]. Yourself. Loving the self is a required balance. If we fail in that, we fail our neighbor, too. To love your neighbor is to relate to them as someone made in the image of God. And it is to relate to yourself as someone made in the image of God. It’s God, up, down, and all around, and God is love.
Sometimes we can only recognize God’s love for us through the love we receive from another person (whom God has loved well). The important part is that the flow of love gets started. Bishop Curry continues:
The ability to love yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others. The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfill both needs. . . .
I’ve seen it happen enough times to be confident in saying it. Perhaps loving others saves us from the confusion, the frustration, and ultimately the neurosis that comes when we try to center the world around ourselves. Or perhaps it allows us to step outside the self enough to see ourselves with some distance, for a better perspective on what’s missing. Or maybe when loving ourselves is hard, practicing loving others strengthens the muscle enough to turn the force inward. . . .
Love is a commitment to seek the good and to work for the good and welfare of others. It doesn’t stop at our front door or our neighborhood, our religion or race, or our state’s or your country’s border. This is one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth, as the hymn goes. It often calls us to step outside of what we thought our boundaries were, or what others expect of us. It calls for us to sacrifice, not because doing so feels good, but because it’s the right thing to do. . . .
God’s love is everywhere, in all things, and that includes you.
Bishop Michael Curry with Sara Grace, Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (Avery: 2020), 95–97, 23, 49.
Story from Our Community:
When I was 20, after many years questioning the Catholic Church and many years of self-destructive behavior, I had an “amazing grace” experience and felt the love of God enveloping me. After this, my life changed significantly for the better, as I have attracted Love and try to give Love. Thank you Father Rohr for helping me to look beyond dogma and for reaching out to all faiths. God is love…this is what we all need to hear. —Mary B.