Being unloved and unvalued inflicts a devastating wound that will not heal if left untreated.
When we are deprived of love, we search for it anyway because we are acutely aware that something is missing, not right, not normal. It is stressful to be unloved and the mind propels us to stop the pain; to fill the gap and to seek to to fill our desperate need for love and to be valued. The hunger to be loved, to fill the gap of being valued because we exist, drives us on to find a way to meet the need to be loved.
Attempts to escape the pain of being unloved and unvalued leads to many unhelpful behaviours - addictions to pornography, gambling, drugs, prostitution, sexual abuse. The behaviours apply a numbing agent to our pain but they cannot supply love and heal our wounds.
We need to understand what forces are driving our emotional pain and thus our addictive behaviours.
Some 12 step fellowship groups suggest that we surrender our resentments to the God of our understanding. That is perfectly fine IF the God of your understanding is ONLY LOVING.
It is safe to trust a loving God. However, some entities are not safe to surrender our insecurities to, or to invest our trust in them.
An entity that possess the following traits is unsafe to trust:
EVIL OR WRATHFUL CHARACTER TRAITS;
POSSESSES A SPIRIT OF FEAR;
AGGRESSIVE AND/OR BULLYING ATTRIBUTES;
CURSES THE DISOBEDIENT
BREAKS THEIR OWN RULES
EXPECTS FOLLOWERS TO KEEP RULES THAT THE ENTITY/BEING ITSELF DOESN'T KEEP
TERRORISES THOSE UNDER ITS CONTROL
KILLS THOSE WHO DISPLEASE IT.
Any 'divine' being that possesses any of these negative character traits is not the God of Love. (NOTE: This is not to say that evil deeds go 'unpunished,' but just that the God of Love does not inflict artificial consequences to selfishness. God does not punish us for being selfish. It is our free choice of whether to behave selfishly or to be loving. Selfishness causes its own painful consequences).
What is love?
The most famous description of love is in the Christian Bible in 1 Corinthians 13 : 1-13
If I speak in the language of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are languages, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
How can we love others if we have no concept of what love is? If no-one has ever shown us real love, how can we know how to develop loving relationships? With extreme difficulty!
By beholding we become changed. What our minds are exposed to, especially when we are young and our minds are forming, become our 'normal.' If our parents criticize us, or abuse us, the chaos of living in a dysfunctional family becomes 'normal.' We might sense that something is wrong or stressful, but we 'cope' with dysfunctional relationships and we try to survive the pain inflicted from being abused. Normal, non-stressful relationships can often appear 'boring' to us because the chaos is missing - the adrenaline, the stress is missing and it is that kind of relationship that 'feels' normal to us. It might feel normal to live on adrenaline, but it's not a normal kind of normal at all. It's emotional chaos.
Hurting people often hurt people. If our parents were not valued and shown love by their parents, does that mean our resentments for our own unloved or abused state, should shift to our grandparents or their parents? Where does the buck stop? We can only choose to stop the cycle of 'unloved' ourselves. We can learn what love is. We can learn how to love and by giving love, it is likely that we will be offered love in return also.
Before we can give love though, we have to know what love is and we have to receive it from somewhere.
How can we recognise and imitate a behaviour and principle if we have never seen it, experienced it or understand what it feels like? If we have never been shown love, we don't know what to search for or even how to seek it. We are confused about finding a life partner and can't identify a healthy individual from an insecure or narcissistic person. We often choose 'wrong' partners and then experience a series of relationship failures. It's confusing. Why can other people find their soul mate and be happily married for decades, but we seem to be forever failing in our intimate relationships?
A review of the research done on criminals in prison reveal that the vast majority of them have never experienced being valued and loved. Read the summary article Early Childhood Victimization Among Incarcerated Adult Male Felons from the National Institute of Justice by Robin Weeks and Cathy Spatz Widom by clicking on the button below.
Some extracts from the summary: "...this study found that violent offenders reported more childhood neglect (20 percent) than nonviolent offenders (6 percent)."
"Overall, 68 percent of the incarcerated adult male felons reported some form of early childhood victimization before age 12, either physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. The most common type of reported victimization was physical abuse. Using a measure of “very severe violence,” the study found that about 35 percent of the sample reported severe childhood physical abuse."
"What remains unknown is the processes by which these early childhood experiences lead to criminal and violent behavior and the protective factors that move them away from such behavior."
From the scholarly research, it certainly appears that in order to give love indeed we need to experience love from at least one source. This is why Jesus, while we were yet sinners, lived for us (until death) and loved us unconditionally. He loved us first so that we could know what real love looks like. He didn't just say loving words. He backed up those words with action.
The following video is part of the 4 part series Hard Time presented by National Geographic through 36 episodes that tracked the lives of inmates in several prisons in USA for a period of 3 years.
Hard Time is an American reality-documentary television series on the National Geographic Channel. The series debuted on February 1, 2011 and is hosted by Thurston Moore as he sheds light on the daily life of the prisoners and corrections officers in various state prisons across the United States. Prisons profiled in the series include Hays State Prison, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, Ross Correctional Institution, and Clark County Detention Center. https://en.everybodywiki.com/Hard_Time_(TV_series)
While viewing the inmates' experiences, we can see the painful path of loveless lives and the attempts to fill the void with drugs and other addictive behaviours. We are not claiming that all inmates have had unloving origins, but that many of them, as well as addicts, suffered abuse and neglect as children because of the instability that growing up in dysfunctional families caused.
The story of Christopher Franklin Timmreck aka 'Yankee' illustrates how expressions of love seemed to ease the stress of living in prison. Chris Timmreck was a US Army combat veteran who fought in Iraq and was involved in a serious violent attack shortly after his return to USA. In his defence, Chris blamed the post traumatic stress he suffered from a 'difficult' childhood, but this fact was not given weight by the judge. The Veteran Behind Bars video is a short overview of the Chris Timmreck case while the second video is much longer and Chris' story starts at 1 hour 38 minutes and 40 seconds,
Reading the red lettering of the Bible - those words that Jesus authored, is a great start to understanding the concept of love. Jesus said to Philip, "If you have seen me (my character) you have seen the Father (the Father's character). We have been assured by Jesus that the Father's character is identical to His own character.
John 14 : 8, 9 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
We don't have to be afraid of the Father. He is the kind of loving father/mother (parent) that we all wished we could have, but sadly didn't inherit. Despite being unaware of His unconditional love in our childhood, we can be assured that now, the Father loves us with an undying, unquenchable love. Love is the government of heaven.
Tim Jennings states:
When we understand that God is ONLY and COMPLETELY loving, then we can feel secure. God will not criticize us when we try to do our best. God will not condemn us for making mistakes. God understands that we are wounded because we have been deprived of love and that we have a hard time even understanding the concept of love. God understands and He loves us because we exist - and for that reason only. God does not need us to be free of our addictions before He will love us. God doesn't need us to be 'nice' before He will love us. God loves all of us UNCONDITIONALLY - ALL THE TIME. If we study the life of Jesus, we will see what true love looks like, feels like and His love will begin the healing process in mind and in our heart. Our thinking will become loving and that will cause our feelings to become loving and our behaviour will then become loving. We will be able to recognise when others are loving or when they are being deceptively selfish and manipulative of us. Love exposes narcissism, abusive behaviour and we are no longer confused about relationships. Love is the great standard. Love is our safety. The same love by which we are loved, is the same unconditional love that God has for all other human beings. God loves all his children, whether they recognise Him as their creator or not. God loves those who think they hate Him or deny His existence. God loves those who think and declare that God is their enemy.
Just as God loves His self-declared enemies and as Jesus demonstrated love for His self-declared enemies, God gives us love which empowers us to love our enemies. Resentments fade and evaporate under the warmth of God's love when we ask Him to let His love flow through us to others. The toughest battle is surrendering our 'right' to hold resentments against those who we are 'entitled' to hate - to withhold love from - because we consider ourselves more holy, righteous than those who 'did us wrong.'
"Lord, please let your love flow through me to 'my enemy' as I don't have any love for them myself; in fact, I don't even like them." This is not a perfect prayer, but God answers it anyway when the heart is struggling with holding onto resentments but the mind wants to follow God's loving ways. Jesus gave us the perfect example of this prayer when He was nailed to a cross and yet He still breathed these words of protection over His enemies, "Father, forgive them because they don't know what they are doing."
Many times, we don't know what we are doing either, but we think we do. We think we understand love and mercy, justice and punishment. We believe in 'an eye for an eye' and it feels right to us. We feel justified in feeling, "I want those people to suffer because they did a heinous thing to me." Jesus ripped that perverted version of justice/righteousness to shreds when He declared:
Matthew 5 : 38-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 7 : 7-9 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Luke 6 : 27-31 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Matthew 22 : 36 -40
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
1 John 4 : 7-12 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
How can we love someone we don't even like?
God is not asking us to 'try' to love others when we really don't care about them. To pretend to love them is a lie and a facade. God is not asking us to be fake or to lie or to pretend we wish someone well when we really hope they reap retribution for their evil actions.
God is offering us the power to love our enemies. His Love IS His power. We have the privilege of confessing our inability to love others and of asking God to let His love flow through us - into our minds by His holy spirit of love - to our enemies. Then our hearts will begin to be healed. We will know what it is like to be loved as God loves us. We will have joy in our hearts.
To hold onto resentment and a desire to see our enemies punished is to continue to infect our wounds. The only real cure for our misery, is Love.
The divine power of Love - the Creator - is the source of Love and our true Healer.