By Sarah Levesque (Rated G)
Too often I see people stagnate in their relationship with God. Too often I see the same stagnation in my own life. But I’ve had an idea – an idea that might seem bizarre, but actually connects to the lives of certain saints. It may be difficult, but I think it’s worth a try.
We tend to think about our loved ones all day and brag about them incessantly. Do we do that for God? We put our significant others before ourselves (I hope), but have you ever heard the phrase “I am third”? It’s a reminder that we need to put God first, others – family, friends, neighbors, enemies – second, and self third (or last).
But I’ve got an even more radical idea for you – what if we treated Jesus like we treat the person we’re madly in love with?
Say that person is your significant other. If you’re anything like me, you talk (in some form or another) to them as soon as you wake up and you text them throughout the day. If you’re lucky, you see them in person after work. If not, you call, or at least keep texting. And when you’re together, you hug, you hold hands, you snuggle, you kiss… You probably do all you can to show your significant other how much you care, and you try to think of him/her first. Throughout your relationship, you probably gravitate toward what they like, and avoid what bothers them.
Now, what if we did this with Jesus? Talk to Him from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. Read His words in the Bible and good books; hear them from the pulpit, by listening, by watching beneficial shows and movies. See Him in person in the Eucharist as often as you possibly can. And, when you can, receive Him physically by partaking in Communion. See Him everywhere in the people all around you. Do what you can to show Him you love Him. Don’t know how? Just remember His words: “…I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me… Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me.” Emulate Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who truly saw God in every person she encountered, regardless of background. And always think of Him before yourself: think of what He would want you to do, of what would please Him, of what would make Him smile. Need some ideas? Keep reading!
There are five love languages that we humans tend to use. These are ways that we show love to others, and ways that we prefer to be shown love. Each person has his or her own preference to give love, and his or her own preference to receive love. We can use these same love languages to love God, and to see better how God loves us.
Acts of Service
- Give to Him by serving the Church, the poor and the people around you.
- Receive from him blessings and answered prayer. Note that prayers may be answered “no” or “not right now”, not just “yes”.
- Give Him your time, talent and treasure. Do what would make Him happy; follow in His footsteps (WWJD?). Sing Him songs of love and of praise, wear clothes that He would approve of.
- Receive from Him answered prayer, blessings, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Give it to Him in prayer (talking to Him), in Church, in reading your Bible and other books to help grow your faith, in being fully present with the people around you, in volunteering, in ministry, and in helping others.
- Receive His words, His presence in Church and everywhere.
- Give it to Him by receiving the Eucharist and by reaching out to others.
- Receive Him in the Eucharist and in appropriate interactions with others.
Words of Affirmation
- Give it to Him by praising Him, thanking Him, telling Him how much He means to you; and by using positive, affirmative and truthful words with others.
- Receive His encouragement and suggestions from the Bible, Christian music, faith books and the people around you.
After all, I’ve realized, if sinful men and women can love as much as I’ve been blessed to witness, how much more perfectly must the Son of God love us?
“But,” you say, “my significant other’s love is more tangible than God’s, so it is harder to love God.” I can relate. Let the following ideas settle into your mind and your heart:
- God the Father created you, and loves you far more than any human significant other or parent, more than the human brain can dream of.
- God the Father sent His only Son to die a horrible death for you. Yes, for you – He would have done it if you were the only person on the earth.
- God the Son (Jesus) obeyed the Father and died a horrible death just for you. He, too, would have done it if you were the only person on earth.
- If fallen mortals – particularly significant other’s and mothers – can love as completely and as fiercely as many do, how much more the God Who made us, Who gave up His Son for us, Who died for us, that we may live with Him forever?
- God gave you your significant other and your parents, the people in your life that are expected to love you the most, the people who you are expected to love the most.
If I may generalize, you (hopefully) trust both your significant other and your mother to want what’s best for you and to try to accomplish it, even when you don’t agree. How much more the God Who loves you, Who created you? How much more, then should you trust Him?
If I can love my mother who bore and raised me this much, and if I overflow with love for my significant other, how much more should I love my Creator, my Lord and my Savior, God, Who Himself is Love?
How many times a day do we sacrifice something we want for the thing wanted by our significant other or a family member? Whether it’s doing a chore, listening to their preferred music instead of ours, going out for the evening instead of staying in, attending to a sick loved one instead of enjoying oneself… If you do this (as you ought to) for others, why not for God? Do little things for Him – listen to Godly music, help others with their needs, attend a faith-based event when you’d rather stay home, hang out with people who give God glory and build you up. And do it cheerfully, as (I hope) you would if you were doing it for your significant other.
Today, I challenge you (as I challenge myself): try to treat God like you do or would treat your significant other. Put Him first, others second (all of them – remember “what you have done to the least of these…”) and yourself third. And see what happens. If it makes a difference, let me know!
Author’s Note: I wrote this piece a number of years ago, and I’ve been trying to follow my own advice. I think it’s helped my relationship with God, and I hope it will help yours too!