If you have no strength to love
Hysterical cough is the same as 15 minutes ago, and half an hour, and an hour … Apparently, it hurts my throat, and my son wakes up and cries, complains … I know that I can’t really help, but I get up to sit at his bed and stroke him. It seems that he feels my confusion, pushes away my hand, waves at me and shouts: “Woo! Woo! ”(The sound“ d ”is not given to him). I obediently leave. And so midnight: come, go away, take it on the pens, shake it, put it back, cover it with a blanket, remove the blanket … The child suffers from coughing, cannot sleep. I try to demonstrate to him that I am near, I am ready to help, I sympathize with him.
Where can I get this power? I think about unconditional love – a beautiful expression, but where to draw it, then to distribute? Well, well, child, they say, it’s just a pity, because it’s small, but what about the rest?
How Bashlachev sang:
But how to love them, such unwashed,
Yes, life punched, and then drunk
Well, there is a friend, a boss, a colleague,
Well, okay – accidentally comfort the cripple,
Give to all who ventured to ask …
But like the whole neighborhood, strangers, unknowns,
Yes, as a friend, like a daughter, like a bride –
Yes, let me ask?
(A. Bashlachev, "Dough")
Love is action
Often love is first an action, and then a feeling. “If you find that there is no love in you, but wish to have it, then do works of love, even if at first without love. The Lord will see your desire and diligence and put your love in your heart, ”says Ambrose of Optina.
Moreover, love is an extremely active action that requires, at times, all that a person has: “There is no more that love, as if someone puts his soul for his friends” (John 15:13). The world around us constantly sends every person a call, demands sympathy from him, demands to show love in deed. Much of what we talked about in this newsletter – helping the poor in the streets, praying for peace – requires efforts, often rather big ones. Where can I get this power? I have several sources.
If I received unconditional acceptance and love from others, it is easier for me to give love to others. For this, it seems to me very important to allow other people to show sympathy towards me, to allow others to be attentive and caring to me. Asking for help and getting support is normal; including for this, we are saved in the Church, and not one by one.
The experience of love and acceptance can be obtained not only from people. When I remember how God was gracious and forgiving towards me, I can do something with myself to treat others more carefully: “if God so loved us, then we should love each other” (1 John 4: 11 ).
Often a person is compared to a bowl: if no one fills me with love, if my vessel is empty, can I draw from my vessel to fill the vessels of others? Perhaps this is why the monastic practice often prescribed alternate service to others and solitary prayers: “it’s time to throw stones, and time to collect stones; time to embrace, and time to evade embrace ”(Eccl. 3: 5).
In addition, I think negative experience is also an experience. When they demand from me to love, it is useful to remember how I was when I was ignored, they were not considered with my needs, they were ignored by my feelings.
Probably, it is in the first place for someone – unfortunately, this is not the case for me. Christ came to earth, “that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It is He who, of course, is the source of all power, of all life. Recently there was the feast of the Prevention of Pentecost (the middle between Easter and the Trinity), in the Church they sang: “Thirst my soul to thirst for piety, give it water to you, cry out to all the Savior: cry thirst, cometh to Me, and drink. The source of our life, Christ God, glory to Thee. " For me, prayer and participation in the Sacraments is, among other things, the opportunity to receive life directly from the source of life – Christ, “for we live and move and exist by Him” (Acts 17:28).
One of my worst ailments is constantly defocused attention. Half a minute wrote the text about the ward – checked the mail – replied to the letter – the notification came – read Facebook – oh, I urgently need to add … It is clear that when the need for someone to actively love is woven into this stream, someone will really take care of , my tactics do not change: I get distracted by calls, parallel affairs, I try to read a book in parallel – and when a person reminds himself, I get irritated. Just focus on the business, say to yourself: “I am with this person now, and only with him”, a very hopeful love is very much saved.
Airplane mode (turning off the reception of external signals by phone or laptop) is an amazing thing. Sorry, you can not turn it on in your head …
“Battles win before the battle begins” – of course, this is not a universal principle, but sometimes it is useful. If I think I’ll shake the child for 10 minutes and go to bed, then in half an hour I may be already in a rage. If I tune in immediately to the worst scenario (“until the morning a lot of time, and I will get up to the child as many times as he calls”), then half an hour of motion sickness will seem quite short. Another option is to decide in advance how much time I am willing to devote to this person, and decide what I will do next (“get up early tomorrow, so I will sit with him for half an hour, and then wake up my wife”).
So, when it seems to me that the Lord requires me to love my neighbors, but there is no strength for this, I can:
1) Remember how I received love from others, how the Lord was caring for me, and vice versa – how hard it was for me to encounter the callousness and indifference of others;
2) Pray and ask for strength from the Source of life – Christ;
3) Make a decision that for the time being I will cut off all unnecessary and focus on this person;
4) Determine the time, if necessary, and gain determination not to retreat.
And what do you do when there is not enough power for love? Share your experience on our blog!
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