“I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.- John 13:34-35
Love is a powerful emotion. It can be expressed both positively and negatively. It can bring pleasure, and it can bring pain. It can cause us to spank our children, “because I love you,” and to even murder a loved one as an “act of love.” It is a very visual emotion that presents images of hearts, flowers, chocolates, and diamonds. Movies, and “chick flicks” are written to evoke emotions of love, and even entire channels (Hallmark) are dedicated to the feel good emotion of love. We change everything about who we are in pursuit of it, and feel lost and lonely without it. We express a need to be loved, and have difficulty understanding how to express it back to someone we love. We can love in both close and distant proximities. We can withhold our love and punish another, or through a simple touch can elicit a lifesaving emotional response in newborns and the elderly.
If this emotion is so vital to our existence, why do we have such difficulty understanding it’s value in our relationships? How do we “fall out of” love? What gets in the way of us giving and receiving this life energy which can bring us such deep emotional satisfaction, and bring us to tears in the depths of depression?
The movie “UNBROKEN” is set to be released Christmas Day. It is the story of a World War II war hero, Louie Zamperini, and is directed by Angelina Jolie. But unfortunately the entire story will not be told. For anyone who read the book, UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand, only 1/2 of Louie’s story will be shared with the world. The portion left untold of Louie’s life is the best part of his life, and the part that carried him not only through a plane crash that left him afloat in the ocean for 47 days, only to be “rescued” and sent to a Japanese prisoner of war camp for an 3 additional years of torture; the “rest of the story” is about his post-war sufferings with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and subsequent alcoholism that drove him to his knees. Finally, when all hope had left him, he went to a Billy Graham crusade and gave his life to Christ.
For the rest of his life, Louie shared his transformation, speaking at churches, on Television, and even returned to Japan where he “forgave and hugged his captors, even those who had tortured him” (Henry Howard; American Legion magazine, Dec.2014). Hillenbrand even subtitled the book: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Unfortunately, the Redemption part won’t be shown in this movie. And, I believe it is the love story portion that we all should see. Love goes beyond the “feel good” and “what have you done for me lately” beliefs of current society norms. Love is as powerful as we BELIEVE it is. If you believe you possess little love, you will give and receive little love. If you believe you possess abundance of love, you will be able to give out of that abundance to others. And the more you give, the more you’ll receive.
Jesus knew the power and magnitude of love and said, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13. The Message Bible translation restates that we are to “love extravagantly.” I like that translation. It means to shower our love on each other…to drench our entire being in love. What a refreshing concept; to be so fully submerged in love so that if we could shake like a dog, the love that flies from our body would splatter onto everyone in close proximity. But instead of annoyance, they too would feel the presence of our love on them.
My challenge for you this Christmas is to shake like a dog…and let your abundance of love bless everyone who has the privilege of knowing you. Vicki Coffman, LMFT