Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Invitation 2: Beloved

Question:

What makes it difficult for you to love?
Write your Answer – click here

Transcript of Video:

It’s so hard for me to love. It really is. You know, I run up against it almost every day here in community. And I find it hard to love because I forget my own belovedness. And if I remember that this was something I could bring into the forefront of my consciousness, my love for other people, which is there, would flow so much more freely. But it really, you know, it does go back to a level of self-rejection. Self-rejection happens to us when we forget that we were loved before we received any human love. We were loved before we came into our human existence, if there is a love primary to and before all other loves, all human loves that we ever experienced, and we have to reclaim that knowledge of our belovedness that is not dependent on human approval or human love.

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

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88 Comments

  1. Beth on March 25, 2014 at 10:51

    With only certain people in my family, that continually misinterpret something I say, and become riled over it without asking for an explanation,. This quiets my love, although it is still there.

  2. Marilyn Weir on March 20, 2014 at 08:52

    Wow. A big question that has a complicated answer that I will try to keep simple! When I think of God, I know I am loved in completeness and without exception and I love God back, but my love feels limited – limited from the perspective that I am human and can’t love like (or as much as ) God. I love and give easily – it’s painful for me not to as it is my nature to do so. However, my love often is not received well or at all and I am hurt. So I pull back to keep from being hurt again.
    If I allow the love to come from that deep place where God dwells within me, then it is a different experience. It’s not coming from me – it is coming from God. That is the love I most need to share and that people most need to feel.

  3. Pamela on March 20, 2014 at 05:38

    How true and powerful your statement hit me tonight. Yes I agree as I often fall into what you have said. I do love but fear rejection that I have encountered from humans most of my life. I do know now that my Lord and Master loves me unconditionally and try my best to share His love.

  4. fred on March 20, 2014 at 02:07

    Ohhhh. That hits the nail right on the head! I’m not sure I ever really, really loved. I’m not mean. I’m tolerant, and I like many people. I do love my grandchildren and my children, in that I deeply care about them. But have I ever really be “in” love? I don’t think so. Do I love me? Not particularly. Love is a huge word. Hmmmmm. Lots of food there! Thanks a mega ton for asking the question.

  5. Lynn taylor on March 19, 2014 at 23:29

    Many obstacles to the free flow of live. My pride. But also my sense of needing to stay protected hidden because if people really saw me they would be repulsed by me Which doesn’t make sense but is my deepest fear.

  6. Sr. Donna Morgan,OGS on March 19, 2014 at 16:46

    Fear

  7. Jenny Hall on March 19, 2014 at 15:48

    I have been reading Brene Brown’s books on fear and shame. She has really opened my eyes on how we are all vulnerable because we carry around shame and how it affects our relationship to self and others.
    I have discovered that I am enough and I am God’s beloved. It has enabled me to love with my whole heart.

    • Tammy on March 22, 2014 at 08:06

      I was reading them on the airplane yesterday and they offer powerful insight about the connection between gratitude and love and fear…thanks for mentioning it….She told the story of how our a parent is overcome by joy at the love for their child only to be gripped by overwhelming fear that something will happen to the child….so they stop being joyful as if it were the insurance policy for the other…..to live joyfully and fully and with gratitude actually increases our capacity to cope when and if that shoe drops….Im getting on the gratitude train. It was the first time that crazy reasoning made sense to me….

  8. Gwendolyn on March 19, 2014 at 10:53

    I sometimes feel that the greatest obstacle to loving others is this perverse notion I have that people are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and therefore do not need my love. And God’s love is so my greater than anything I can give. So I guess this is not so far removed from Brother Robert’s point. If I don’t feel my love is of any value, I’m not likely to give it very freely, am I?

    But on the other hand, I also truly believe that people do far more loving of others than we give each other (and ourselves) credit for. Loving others does not mean condoning or approving ill behaviors or attitudes. Allowing people the space to make their stupid mistakes is just as loving an act as intervening might be. God’s grace allows us to know which is the appropriate loving act.

    My own experience has been that the greatest obstacle to my being a loving person happens when I do not allow God to love through me.

  9. Leslie on March 19, 2014 at 10:01

    Suppose with the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday the priest said, “From Love you were made and to Love you shall return.”

  10. TM on March 19, 2014 at 09:50

    Since I’ve come to know God a bit better in past years, I actually find it easier to love. But I sometimes get knocked down in return. The rejection hurts, but I know that you can’t be liked by everyone. I trust in God to lead me to the right people, and to know when to stop trying with people who just won’t have it. That’s more of my issue.

  11. Sue on March 19, 2014 at 09:22

    It’s the fear that if you truly “see” me, you will reject me, as I often reject you. I look for God’s perfect, unconditional love in others and in myself, yet we humans are incapable of such love. A friend shared this prayer with me that sums it up for me: “God, forgive me for expecting from the human what can only come from the divine.”

    Even so, the Bible is filled with admonitions to love others as God loves us. I will never be able to do that perfectly, but when I truly place my trust and welfare in God’s hands, I don’t have to fear trying.

  12. Mary on March 19, 2014 at 08:07

    For me to love, I have to be vulnerable. That means I have to open myself up to the possibility of judgment and rejection. Sometimes I have the strength to take that risk, other times fear keeps me from opening myself to that. At my core, I want to be accepted for who I am in God. It’s hard to strip away the shadows, to allow others to know the essence of me.

  13. Win on March 19, 2014 at 07:03

    I think it is my humanness that keeps me from loving, but then again it is also my humanness that allows me to love with God’s help, so what do I do with that! In any event the definition I find helpful regarding love is wanting the best for the other. My problem is when that best for the other diminishes the best for me then I tend to fight back! That animal self-preservation kicks in every time. Recognizing that I am not the One who knows what’s “best” (if I can get myself to that point), then I try to realize that it isn’t so much what happens to me as it is what I do with what happens to me that counts. As with everyone else’s remarks to this question, I think it is just a matter of being kind to one’s self and trying again and again ad nauseum.

  14. Paula on March 19, 2014 at 01:42

    I love because God first loved me and He tells me to “love my neighbor as myself” (maybe even a little more at times), but I have no expectations, only hope, that that human love will be reciprocated. Sometimes it is.

  15. Lorna Harris on March 18, 2014 at 21:39

    What makes it hard for me to love is a fear of rejection and a fear that the other person will feel I am imposing myself on them. At least that is how I feel about human love. I suppose it’s more that I can still love other people but I do it quietly to myself , without mentioning it to them, necessarily.

  16. Dorothy Wilson on March 18, 2014 at 20:21

    My first thought is that I come from a loving family. But today, as I was driving home, my love was not flowing when I didn’t let a car into my lane. I was anxious to get home , because I was in pain. I was too focus on my own needs. My beloved God reminded me I wasn’t nice to that other person.

  17. LindaR on March 18, 2014 at 20:09

    Fear of rejection and of fear of being hurt and abandoned again. Love is a dangerous thing, but loving and being loved is tremendously healing. I’m learning to trust and trying to reach out to people. It’s scary, but it’s what makes it possible to feel like a human being, instead of less than human.

  18. Kathleen Sheehy on March 18, 2014 at 20:02

    I allow myself to get sidetracked by selfishness and comfort-seeking, by little things that can annoy me at times about another person, or simply and most profoundly by not being mindful. Mindfulness is a key to a variety of gifts: contentment, trust, appreciation, and of course, love.

  19. Sharpn on March 18, 2014 at 19:41

    I think what makes it difficult for me to love the the judgement that is exchanged between human beings. Some intentional but most I think is unintentional. It is in the judgments that life brings to us that whispers, your not worthy, your not loved, your not good enough, which of course are all lies. Because if I am God’s beloved and he loves me unconditionally then I am worthy, I am loved but most important I am good enough, just as I am, wounds, scars, flaws and all. Thanks be to God!

  20. Diane Sherwood on March 18, 2014 at 19:36

    I find it difficult to love sometimes because of my arrogance, my judgmental nature, sometimes because I’m angry, or scared. I often let others’ pettiness make me defensive. I forget to love others when I’m not doing well.

  21. Mary Caulfield on March 18, 2014 at 17:30

    I’ve really appreciated this reflection – both Brother Robert’s honesty and the thoughtful responses. I think that what keeps me from loving is the effort to protect myself. But I also understood what other commenters said about the self-involvement and fear. As time goes by, though, I’m realizing that building a fortress is much more “dangerous” than being vulnerable.

  22. Joyce McGirr on March 18, 2014 at 17:16

    Maybe the answer is something that I read written by John of the Cross “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.”

  23. Patty Baker on March 18, 2014 at 17:12

    Thank you Br. Robert. I love your vulnerability and that long pause after your first statement makes me just uncomfortable enough to realize it is hard for me too. I keep going back to Br. Curtis’ comment that love is not a feeling, but a decision – God’s decision. If this is so, and I am coming to believe it is, then it is also a decision to believe that I am loved. Love is relational and reciprocal and if it doesn’t work both ways, then it is very hard for it to work at all. Today I wrestle with what the stumbling blocks are that prevent me from remembering this…my brokenness, my ego, my fear, the short-comings of human love. These so often seem to trump God’s love, but when I do remember, it is easier to make the decision to love self and others – not a squishy, touchy-feely love – but an authentic love that is reflected in our baptismal covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.” If we could love ourselves as God loves us, it would be easier to love our neighbors.

    • Marilyn Weir on March 20, 2014 at 08:57

      I love your words here, Patty. Thank you for sharing. It is causing me to reflect more on Br. Curtis’ comment that love is a decision and what that might mean.
      This was a tough question.

  24. Ross Bliss on March 18, 2014 at 16:35

    Fear is really what prevents me from loving. Many feelings might mask fear, including contempt, control, anger etc. that are easier to admit because they don’t seem as weak. But I believe fear is behind all of them, at least for me. The most primal fear is of rejection.
    It does help tremendously me to realize that I was loved before I existed,

  25. the Rev. Judith Jones on March 18, 2014 at 15:51

    Frustration? Pain? I know that when I’m in pain, whether it is emotional pain or physical pain, I get too caught up in myself to let love flow. My words are sharp, and short. When I’m late and the traffic is slow, or even when I’m late due to my own procrastination, frustration moves to the fore. I don’t get road rage, exactly, but I’m definitely not loving those folks around me in their vehicles. I most often find that love doesn’t flow from me because I’m not loving myself: I have lost touch with how much God loves me. If (or when) I become aware of my negative attitudes towards myself, and begin to pay attention to God’s love, then I become loving. It’s that continual returning to God and the love flowing between us, that opens us all up to loving God and loving all others. It’s a discipline that I have yet to master: living in an awareness of God’s love for His creation, including myself.

  26. David Holt on March 18, 2014 at 15:14

    My self involvement with pain-that is entwined makes it difficult for me to love these days.( It wasn’t always so. )Praying about this I found that the selfishness mixed with physical pain is not as deep as I thought-I could let it go to find however an emptiness underneath—–in which I was open to be loved by God.

  27. MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:08

    fear of the awful pain that is loss of the one loved

  28. Maureen on March 18, 2014 at 15:03

    I fear that I shall be rejected after a while, pushed to change myself, ridiculed, attacked.
    I know God doesn’t do that. But my heart doesn’t believe it wholly.
    What if I accept an invitation to dive into the Living Waters, drop boundaries, relax? How do I overcome the fear at the core of my encasement?
    Yes. I know God is safe, good, kind, compassionate, loving, encircling with delight. How do I get my head to get it into my heart?
    I am like a child afraid of water. I’m up to my shins. I’ve gone through frightening waters, but not given over my control. Through this Lent and Easter and Pentecost and advent and Christmas and Epiphany …through all, I slowly enter deeper.

  29. Jo Beth on March 18, 2014 at 14:49

    It’s hard to love because of rejection and abuse. People have used my love to hurt me so I don’t trust anyone any more.

    • Joyce McGirr on March 18, 2014 at 17:28

      Jo, I am so sorry about your pain-abuse is so destructive to the soul- I pray that your wounds will heal over time and you know what, just the fact that you were able to write this is an amazing step of love-you trusted enough to put it out there. God bless you for that. I read something today and it may not help but I
      just thought of it so I will share it with you-
      –“there may be some pain that God can’t explain, but there is no pain that God can’t embrace.” (Take the Dimness of my Soul Away, by William Ritter) Keep that open heart of yours-it will lead to God’s grace and healing love.

  30. Heidi Edson on March 18, 2014 at 14:14

    I have difficult time with trusting others at least on a deep level. This makes it hard for me to love- at least keep on loving- the other.

  31. Annette Foisie on March 18, 2014 at 13:07

    My mother was neither kind nor loving; she was actually cruel. Gratefully my father modeled love for me, so I had their opposing behaviors to observe. And, early on, I decided to choose a life like my father’s. Later, as an adult, i learned that Jesus had been with me, supporting and loving me all my life, even when I had felt alone. This was a transformative discovery then, and still is, today. I now can love and be loved, because of the restorative nature of the love of Jesus, Who calls me and claims me as His daughter, His own. Thanks be to God.

  32. Pam on March 18, 2014 at 11:28

    You are correct to allude to 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” With the background of an abusive childhood, for most of my life I was able to love people, but it was a needy kind of love. My worth was very much defined by other people. At my core I thought I was worthless. That changed one day about a decade ago when, through a word of knowledge, God told me I was his beloved. Now I know that God loves me with an unconditional love that I never had, and that has freed me to love others in a generous, compassionate, and accepting way. Knowing my belovedness made all the difference.

  33. cmhs on March 18, 2014 at 11:18

    What a gift to hear Brother L’Esperance’s reflections and the shared pain — and hopes — of the the community. This winter has been a bitter one in many ways, and central to its bitterness for me has been full throttle self-loathing, the sense of being alone in my fraudulence, and that past transgressions have brought about the present loneliness, despair and incapacity to love — God, others and self. My own conundrum is that I fundamentally do not believe that ‘self’ is important, much less worthy — that the project of living the life we are born to, is to eviscerate self, or ego. Yet, useless relentless rumination snags me on the barbs of the very self I devalue. I attended a lecture Sunday at the MFA in which the phrase ‘sacred self’ was invoked to express the joys of human connection, of being loved and loving. Sacred self. What is that? Oh dear — this sounds like Love 101.

    • Lisa on March 18, 2014 at 22:23

      Perhaps the ‘project of living the life we are born to” is to know ourselves as God’s beloved children, born of water and the Spirit; as Jesus’ beloved disciples and friends; as the Spirit’s co-conspirators. (I love that the root Latin con+spirare means “breathe together”.)

      Then it becomes easier to be with the
      “I’m Third” (God-Others-I) image as equal and complimentary loves rather than “God is ALL-Powerful, Others are ALL-Wonderful, and I am a doormat.

  34. PFP on March 18, 2014 at 11:04

    Difficulty in loving, for me, is the risk of involvement. If I can love from a distance, that’s easy. Abstract loving. Even indifferent love. But to risk the involvement of actively loving another – that’s really hard.

    • Deacon Susan in California on March 18, 2014 at 12:57

      How varied we all are in our personalities and struggles! I find it much easier to love an individual or a particular situation with warmth and response, and much harder to love anything or anyone in the abstract. I thrive on getting involved. For me it is often difficult to love “the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely” (BCP page 543) and I can get judgmental really fast, saying things like “They are not taking advantage of all the services WE are offering THEM.” One person at a time I can love and serve unstintingly.

  35. Kathy on March 18, 2014 at 10:48

    How do we love someone who has hurt us, and did so without regret? How do we turn the other cheek as Christ taught us we should? I can accept that God loves me with all of my failings. I can accept that He loves this person, but because I feel rejected and injured by this person, I want to avoid him – not embrace him. Does self preservation stand in the way of being loving to everyone?

    • Maureen on March 18, 2014 at 15:16

      I’ve thought about this a lot. If I picture God with the abuser’s core of fear and self hatred, God healing and living. I can pray for that healing.
      This DOESN’T mean being in the same room/town/state as the abuser. We don’t have to trust–love is different than trust. I should NOT put myself or anyone else in danger. Instead of wishing the abuser were in boiling oil, I try to pray for the best for him.
      And don’t enable him in any future way. If he is to marry a woman with three young daughters, we love him enough to avoid his hurting them–perhaps by a call to his fiancé or to DCF.

  36. Delia on March 18, 2014 at 10:41

    Not feeling good enough keeps my own (false) self right in front of my eyes. When that is broken through or down…by remembering (someone reminding me) to love myself, or that I am loved, it feels as if some arrow pierces my heart, then it is just flow of feelings – love – between myself and others.

  37. Will Wauters TSSF on March 18, 2014 at 10:34

    I’m felling loved by the honesty and depth of all these comments. Blessings on you all.

    • Judith Gillette on March 18, 2014 at 13:46

      Will, how good to see your name! And btw, Fred Lozo mentioned seeing you at retreat and that your health concerns have lessened. I will not stop holding you in prayer, dear brother … I remember our conversations before your move from CA when you were waiting on the Spirit for the next move. My apologies for not writing that you were still on my heart. Blessings, Judith, TSSF

  38. Gwedhen Nicholas on March 18, 2014 at 10:33

    Self-absorption and a lack of awareness of others stops me from loving. I am so caught up in my own life, what is happening to me, that it’s like I have blinkers on. I just don’t see others. Sometimes I see someone do something for someone else, and I criticise myself for not having done it myself. I guess this brings true self-love of myself into the picture. If I have self-love and trust God, then I can have ‘others love’.

  39. Casey on March 18, 2014 at 10:27

    Lack of attention

    Seeing, being is required to share a touch of love.

  40. Jane Anne Gleason on March 18, 2014 at 10:16

    I have difficulty loving others at times because I can sometimes can not love myself. I need to always remember that God loves me therefor I am called to love others.

  41. Tammy on March 18, 2014 at 09:57

    What prevents me from loving is often the fear of being shamed yet again for what I want to do but somehow do not know how to get right. Both of my parents have died within the last five years. It is safe to say that loving well and appropriately was not something they were able to do and in both of their cases their own histories were testaments to the sins of the parents being passed onto the children. I inherited the feeling that I was not worthy of being loved and every time a love relationship ended or had some intense friction it somehow confirmed that core belief. As I think about the “life of the world to come” it was a gift of grace to wonder out loud if heaven for my parents was in fact accepting the love that was there for them before the foundations of the earth were laid. Now they would be fully able to live into the Image of God that was always a part of who they were and in seeing face to face healing was possible for all of us. I long to know them made whole and wonder what our relationship would be like if that were part of the dynamic. Sometimes choosing to love is a statement of faith…just like we say in the creed….” I believe in the life of the world to come.”

  42. Susie on March 18, 2014 at 09:57

    Fear.

  43. Barbara A. Harris on March 18, 2014 at 09:56

    I find it difficult to share love when I feel I have been rejected or ignored or that my wishes have been dismissed. I find it difficult to love those who are self centered. I have to ask God to help me through these times.

  44. Derek N. on March 18, 2014 at 09:56

    I think what has made it difficult for me to love has been a failure to see what was brought up in one of the earlier videos: that love is not a feeling, but an act of the will. Just because you don’t get the warm fuzzies doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. As a result I did not trust my own capacity for love, did not recognize it, and got into the same spiral of self-rejection that others have identified. It’s tricky: love and affection are not the same, but depending on the relationship, affection is awfully important. No answer to that one as yet.

  45. Julie Watt Faqir on March 18, 2014 at 09:24

    It is difficult for to love when I hold onto regret and disappointment. When I am able to let go of these things, I can open myself up to loving others and as a result loving myself. Earlier in this series there was a quote that I wrote down and keep with me…love is ultimately not a feeling it’s a decision and it’s God’s decision and God adores you.

  46. Margo on March 18, 2014 at 09:21

    “We were loved before we came into our human existence, if there is a love primary to and before all other loves,…..” Lovely theological ‘spin’ but contradicted by psychology and reality where if a new born baby is not loved they fail to thrive and die. Life is a micro version of this.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:30

      so returning to God is a bad thing?

    • Win on March 18, 2014 at 18:43

      I still believe in that love for my being (and yours) before we ever came into existence. It is true, if a newborn doesn’t receive love, they can fail to thrive and die, but I have to believe they go back to that place where they will ever be loved beyond our wildest imagination.

  47. Susan on March 18, 2014 at 09:02

    What makes it hard to love someone else is our differences in points of view which leads me into negativity which leads me into ‘not loving’. Also as someone said earlier, what makes it hard to love someone revolves around what I do not love about myself.

  48. larry j on March 18, 2014 at 08:58

    My false self is always doing deals and often love has a “but” after the I love you. It may not be verbalized but is pronounced within. The more I empty myself from the false self the more Love becomes real. For me this is part of letting go and letting God yet such a daily struggle to maintain.

  49. Chris on March 18, 2014 at 08:55

    I think for me what makes it hard to love sometimes is this self-loathing or almost self-hatred. Something more than self-rejection, I have this acute awareness of when I fall short (which is often) of where God is calling me to be and that when I do fall short I just get so angry with myself that it poisons how I interact with the world around me.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:29

      god calls us to forgiveness, especially of ourselves. A very wise and faithful person once put it to me this way (and I must remind myself of it often). God forgives you . . . so who are you not to?

  50. Douglas Hutto on March 18, 2014 at 08:46

    I too have to remind myself that I am beloved. I have followed SSJE for along time and ‘feel’ the community up there West Newbury ….it was during an extended silent retreat that I came to ‘feel’ that belovedness that has continued, albeit reminding myself of it is a piece that I sometime have on the back burner. Why is it hard to love? There are encryptions on our hard drive that doesn’t let it. Because of failings, ego and attempts at pieces that we hold in regard, and being rejected and building the ego wall around that heart of love gets blocked by those encryptions..

  51. John Okerman on March 18, 2014 at 08:20

    I think it is difficult to love when I am focused inwardly on myself and my needs. In conversation with others I find myself talking about myself and what I am doing rather than really listening to that other person. If I can listen carefully and while listening ask myself what is important to that individual?, what are his/her immediate needs?, what does this individual value?, and similar questions that is a way to give my love to others. I am now focusing outwardly from myself. Underlying these comments is the fact that I must love myself before I can truly love others.

  52. Bill on March 18, 2014 at 08:10

    In addition to self-rejection (which it seems we all struggle with) I have found its ugly mirror image – self-absorption – is also a barrier to love. I get so caught up in my own problems and goals that I frequently am blind to the needs of others, and miss opportunities to reach out and love others. I find this balance between the ends of this continuum of self-rejection and self-absorption difficult to achieve and maintain. However, I do think that when God and the Gospels are an active part of my life, that I have a much better chance at this balance.

  53. Gayle on March 18, 2014 at 08:03

    it’s quite hard to see that what I don’t love in others is often what I don’t love in myself

  54. Christopher Epting on March 18, 2014 at 07:45

    Even though I believe we are saved (loved, ultimately) by faith (trust) rather than good works, I still find myself trying to earn love rather than accepting that it is there already. This is true in my relationship with God and in my relationships with other people. Like so many others, it no doubt stems from never quite “measuring up” to expectations as a child. Amazing how many people are relating to Br. Robert’s post. Says a lot about the human condition.

  55. kew on March 18, 2014 at 07:41

    At first, I thought that I don’t have any problem loving…

    Well, a moment’s thought brought up the many exceptions — the person who cuts me off in traffic, for example! — but more importantly, my students.

    I’m a college prof, and some would say that loving my students is not important in higher education, as it might be in pre- or primary school. But it troubles me that I have such difficulty reacting to my students as whole people, and not just through the narrow aperture of the teaching relationship — and the even narrower one of the grading relationship.

    I deal with them as people one on one in my office, to be sure. But when they irritate or disappoint me in class or in their assignments….it’s so easy just to say “ugh! what is wrong with these people??!!” and thereby reduce them to whatever about them is annoying ME.

    I suppose at the risk of making my classroom even squishier than it already is, I could ask them what’s going on, what’s getting between us. But I suspect it would be difficult to get an honest answer, an answer that gets to the heart of things.

    In many ways, I guess the way I think of college teaching presumes an adversarial relationship — and I suspect I am not alone in this, sadly — and that kind of relationship makes love very difficult. But it cannot just be the power imbalance that makes it adversarial and impedes love….for certainly parents love children. Is it the artificial, temporary nature of the imbalance? The instrumental nature of the relationship?

    I think there are many answers to this question, but ONE answer, and perhaps the only one I can do anything about, is that *I* construct this relationship in terms of success and failure, specifically my own success. Or rather my failure. I act like I am on the line every time: every lecture is about me, every paper is about me….Every teaching moment is a success or a failure, and every failure reveals “the truth” about me in a way that no success ever can. So, yeah, I’m all about the self-rejection after all. How interesting…..

    I don’t know how to remember and *feel* that I am beloved — and my students are beloved — in the moments of tension and stuck-ness. (It’s easy to remember in the moments of ‘flow.’) But at least now I know it’s something I need.

    • Leslie on March 18, 2014 at 08:25

      Thank you, kew. I am a university professor, too.

      • Tammy on March 18, 2014 at 09:40

        I am a university chaplain who hears about relationships that professors have with students all the time and I for one am grateful that you have spoken honestly about what is like being in relationship with them. I cannot tell you how valuable that relationship is. They turn over their power just because you are who you are and so often they need your affirmation for things that you cannot even imagine. They are so vulnerable, can be self destructive and often entitled while they do it …..just as they are wide open to all and life affirming and excited about changing and making a difference in the world before them.They remind me of what is possible and I learn from their vulnerability time and again even as I treasure the gift of trust they offer. I am sure you recall faculty who shaped you both positively and negatively. I still cringe when I recall the seminary professor who shamed me when I sought him out to help me understand why a relationship was failing…..or my college adviser who betrayed me in an unexpected way eradicating four years of daily relationship. I watch time and again how they expect their professors to parent them and hear from faculty the same concern….at a time when education has become more of a consumer product than a soul shaping one….it is such a tension you find yourself in…. Students have to learn that faculty , like their parents are human first..and yet there is such a conduit for grace in the teaching relationship because you will never again find them so wide open to changing their hearts and minds about the world and their place in it…worry not about being squishy and yield more to the authentic….they I believe will sense the truth that sets free….

        • Suzanne on March 18, 2014 at 10:37

          Ditto. I am also a member of a 12-step fellowship. Recently, I was on a faculty panel at a new student orientation. It occurred to me then that I could speak to the student attendees honestly from the heart and from my own experiences in life (incl. the academic world), just as I do my sponsees. Only my own fear had prevented me from doing so over 25+ yrs. of teaching. Yet, I sensed in them a hunger for authenticity. Perhaps that was MY hunger I felt. At any rate, I left that event feeling more connected with students than I have felt in a long time.

        • Marianne on March 18, 2014 at 12:52

          I have two college age children, and just want you to know that I appreciate your insightful and compassionate comments and the work that you do with young adults. God Bless You!

      • Win on March 18, 2014 at 18:22

        Maybe as we learned earlier, it isn’t as much a “feeling” as a decision, and we’ll find our answers in why we make the decisions we make. We’re still beloved nonetheless and so are all the others!

    • Derek N. on March 18, 2014 at 09:52

      Also a university professor, and I can agree with this comment just about 100%. The system simply neither requires nor encourages love in the educational relationship. We end up facing an impossible and crazy-making conflict between reason and emotion, “standards” and charity. The one place I haven’t felt this is theological college, for perhaps obvious reasons.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:25

      If you will go deeply into caring more for the success or failure of your students – not just in your class, but in their lives – than you do for yourself, you will find the success and loving relationships that are missing. Jesus calls us to be servants and those young people you have been called to teach are an important responsibility. God has placed great trust in you.

  56. Jen on March 18, 2014 at 07:40

    My inability to see myself in others prevents me from loving. My own self-loathing. Feeling sorry for myself. Impatience and bitterness. Anger, frustration, fear and regret.

  57. Br. Stephen Francis Arnold, OSB on March 18, 2014 at 07:36

    It may not be rejection, but not knowing if the recipient will accept my invitation. I have to go with the backing of God on that.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:18

      the hard part is to remember that the invitation matters and has its own healing power, even if/when it is rejected, and so to not let the rejection be a reason not to invite.

  58. Catherine Gillespie on March 18, 2014 at 07:28

    Thank you, Br. Robert, for sharing this. As others have said, it’s so refreshing to know that even monks (!) have difficulties loving others and yourselves. It seems both impossible and yet so incredibly human — how could anyone not have this struggle? I want to pretend that I don’t struggle with self-rejection, but of course I do, and the people I am having trouble loving also struggle with it too – they must, if they are human – and I just make their self rejection (and my own) worse by hesitating in my willingness to be generous with my love toward them myself.

  59. Pam on March 18, 2014 at 07:19

    For me it’s trust. I think it takes a mature faith to trust that God’s love does not always protect and that this is okay. To know that I can risk loving and being loved ( and not close off as previous message said) because I am God’s beloved and that He will be there, is freeing for me. That the cross speaks to me that I am not merely here to survive but I am here to love and live and even when I am scared to make that decision to trust.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:16

      Yes. It helps me sometimes to remember that God wants me to share his love . . . then I don’t have to trust the fallible human I am called to love, but only God. And that is so very much easier.

  60. David Goodwin on March 18, 2014 at 07:17

    This is it exactly. I am not free to love until it is something I know (yes, and feel) “in my bones.” God loves me. Jesus, Lord of all things, loves me. I cannot comprehend this. But I receive it and believe it. I rest in it and revel in it. And now I am free to love others from the abundance of living water, to share joy and pain. Glorious freedom!

  61. Chris on March 18, 2014 at 07:15

    Thank you for sharing yourself so honestly, Br. Robert. It appears you hit “the spot” with people. I know for me, this is my biggest area of struggle. I had a friend to to me recently that her “love receiver” was broken and that certainly rings true for me. I have been aware of my brokenness in this area for awhile and it is my prayer that God will work his way with me so that I can not just know that he loves me, but that I can take in that truth so that his love is the place from which flows all of what I do and say and think and feel.

  62. Jim on March 18, 2014 at 06:26

    Brother Robert, todays’ speaker, brought up so many interesting things for me to think about today. When he admitted that he has difficulty loving others, I was so grateful to hear that we share that difficulty. He mentions needing to remember that he is God’s beloved and that is also true for me. Without self-love, it is hard to love others because we cannot see how anyone could love us. I know I love others but getting to the point of loving “new others” is harder. For me, what makes it difficult is my tendency to get upset or irritated that others don’t always do what I need them to do–not just want them to do which is common–but actually need them to do. Or, when someone does something to hurt me, I find myself closing off to them even when part of me wants to embrace forgiveness. What’s scary is how easy that closing off is at times.

    This Lenten season, I will decide to love more freely, to get past the hurt or anger and see that we all make mistakes that we regret. Love, as a decision, is actually love as a string of decisions because I’m often called to make the choice to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than to hold onto my anger or pain, and to see everyone as a child of God even when I think the worst of them. I wish love were easy but it’s not, or at least not always.

    • MRM on March 18, 2014 at 15:12

      “how very easy that closing off is . . .” so very easy, even involuntary

  63. Liz on March 18, 2014 at 06:20

    One word…..trust.

  64. Dorothy Brown on March 18, 2014 at 06:15

    Exactly that, what Brother Robert said . Self-rejection. I have always had a huge problem with this. I can blame it on an abusive childhood, but if I were honest I carried it into my adulthood almost as a badge of honor – I was so awful that even God rejected me. I used it for an excuse for my addiction – I had to kill the pain of rejection, though the people who had rejected me were long dead. I am forever grateful that God rescued me and put me in a program that allowed me to have a more loving and accepting vision of God. It is so wonderful to hear that even a holy man struggles with this issue, and even lovelier to hear that I was loved before I came into that world of rejection. I will carry that with through the day. Thank you!

    • Stephanie on April 1, 2014 at 11:46

      What a beautiful and moving reflection. Thank you for sharing that! May your path be littered with blessing, peace, and unrestrained acceptance at every turn.

  65. Jenny on March 18, 2014 at 05:15

    This was absolutely the best one so far (the brother’s statement about self rejection) thank you!

  66. Michael Kolenick on March 18, 2014 at 05:13

    I agree. There is a temporal barrier that inhibits us from loving; and it’s something we need to be aware of and to break through it to be more loving to ourselves and others.

  67. Bob on March 18, 2014 at 04:07

    Aggression.

    That’s either me, or coming from the person I am trying to love. I know that it’s often self loathing, hurt, uncertainty, or any other defence, but it makes it difficult for me.

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