Love. What a weird concept. It can take so many forms, whether it is towards your family, your friends, yourself or a significant other, love is incredibly important and we can show love in so many different ways. We live in a world right now faced with so much hurt and suffering but contrary to what most believe, I believe that these circumstances leave more room for love, and the possibility of being transformed by it. The most important aspect to consider though is that "we love because He first loved us" 1 John 4:19.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" John 13:34
So if God so clearly lays out in the bible that one of his greatest commandments is to love others, why is it something we struggle so much with? For me personally, I struggle most with loving those who are different than me, those who have differing opinions. Sometimes I find myself asking God, "Really? You expect me to love her/him after they just did that to me?" But God's answer I know would be "Yes, I do" because I think we learn the most about ourselves and our world when we dive into loving others that are different than us. We begin to learn more than we ever knew before and loving others the way that God loves us removes separation between us and God and improves our relationship with him as well. So sure, those people that wrong you or have opinions that you know just couldn't be right are hard to love, but it is those that are hard to love that God strategically puts in our lives to help us grow and learn.
"You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you" Song of Solomon 4:7
Ahhh, the hardest one of all. God tells us to "love others as ourselves" but how are we to do that when we don't even fully accept and love ourselves. In society today, I feel as though we are raised to doubt ourselves, our strengths, abilities and attributes that God so clearly drew out for us but this is obviously not the way it was intended to be. This has to be the biggest slap in the face to God. Imagine if you put something together that you feel is absolutely perfect and flawless in every way, only to step back and hear that you created it "wrong" or "didn't make it ______ enough". I can only imagine how hurtful that would be. You were created absolutely perfect in God's image so start living it out and truly believing it. God doesn't view your lack of a thigh gap or crooked nose or cellulite to be imperfections, He seems them as special aspects that He specifically crafted to make you, you. Begin to love yourself, cellulite, dimples, and all, and you will begin to find it easier to love others.
You Aren't Called to Love Alone
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" 1 John 4:7-9.
We are called to love because God first loved us. As clearly stated in the verse above, love is from God. So when you do find it hard to love someone that may be different than you or has done wrong to you, remind yourself that your love comes from something so power, so almighty that it cannot be defeated. And therefore, you can love that person who is hard to love.
In a world faced with so much evil, harm and doubt, let us be reminded that God is love and because He first loved us, unconditionally and unshakable I might add, we are called to love others in the same way. However, we can't love others until we first fully love ourselves. We owe it to God to view ourselves in the perfect image that he created us to be, because anything less isn't fair to Him.