Five Reasons Why It Is So Hard to Love

Everybody thinks about the love they need. Few think of the love that others need.

Most of the songs we enjoy are about our own need for love and not about the love others need. I was trying to think about a song that was about the joy of loving others. My mind went to Jefferson Airplane’s “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love?” Then, I read the lyrics. The song is more about a person who has made a wrong romantic choice about the author of the song. Sure enough, Darby Slick had just experienced a breakup before writing the song. The person who is addressed is being rebuked for choosing the wrong person. They messed up. Not as noble as it first may sound.

The problem is that we all have trouble loving others. Parents may show real love and concern for their children but moving beyond that is very difficult. Why is loving others so hard? Let me give five reasons.

1. Our natural perspective is to see ourselves first. There’s nothing we can do about that. We see things from our own perspective. We see our own needs. We see our own inner world and no one else’s. We are always present to ourselves. There is a natural focus on self that is simply impossible to avoid, but it creates an obstacles to seeing the perspective of others. It will require more work.

2. Our natural self-perspective becomes exaggerated. We not only have a natural and legitimate focus on self, but it becomes illegitimate in all of us. We worry too much about ourselves. I would suggest that this is rooted in our alienation from God and our tendency not to trust Him as the source of love and provision. Without this anchor for our soul, our anxiety about our own needs runs wild.

3. Our excessive self-concern brings us into conflict with others. When people attack others, it is generally out of concern for themselves. They fear something may be lost. They see others blocking their goals. A husband does not feel respected, so he attacks his wife. His wife does not show respect because she does not feel loved. This creates a cycle of conflict (see Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ excellent book on this for a detailed explanation).

4. This conflict with others creates wounds. These wounds keep us from others. We need people, and we fear interacting with them because they have hurt us. We become more self-protective because of what people have done to us. This creates another layer of challenge in loving others.

5. We need wisdom and instruction to get back to loving well. Loving well is not easy. It takes some instruction and practice. Without some instruction, we will not learn how to love. It takes wisdom to know when and how to establish boundaries, when and how much to give, and how to love different types of people. That’s why love is an excellent characteristic that we can call a virtue. It is not easy, and it is rare.

Why is it valuable to know these things? Knowing reality is always our friend in the end. If we can see that it is hard to love and why it is hard to love, then we can start to learn to love. If we think it is easy or don’t know why it’s hard, it will be difficult to become a loving person.

In the next three posts, I will explain the resources of the Christian faith for helping us to become loving people. It is not enough to call oneself a Christian or become a follower of Jesus to be a loving person. The problem of loving others has to be pursued directly. It does not just happen automatically.

Becoming a loving person is one of the highest duties of human beings, according to Jesus. He said that God’s greatest desire and commandment for humans is that they would learn to love God and love others. This means that human destiny is found in the service of God and others.

How do we get there? That’s what we hope to explain, with God’s help, in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you found it helpful, please share or subscribe below. Come back next week, and we will consider what love actually looks like. Blessings to you!

5 Reasons to Visit Mexico City: #1 Constitution Plaza

Every year, on September 15th, the President of Mexico comes out of the Presidential Palace and cries out “Long live Mexico!” A gigantic crowd responds “Viva!” That is, “yes, long may it endure!” It is an impressive and moving demonstration of patriotic fervor (watch it below). This is Zocalo, the Plaza of the Constitution, the heart of Mexico City.

Ever since seeing this plaza in various Mexican series, I had wanted to see it. I was fascinated by the way people gathered there before the president and showed their love for their country. I was fascinated by the classic Mexican architecture around it. I was fascinated by the history of place, going back to the pre-colonial period. It was high on my list.

Our hotel was on Reform Avenue, which I will consider in a later post. We made our way down that avenue past its numerous monuments to the Calle Francisco Madero. You enter it right next to the impressive Palace of Fine Arts. The Calle Madero is the principal connector of the plaza to the rest of the city. On this road, you will find innumerable shops, restaurants, churches, and other points of interest. It is worth a slow walk. This needs to be a part of your trip, as well as a jaunt a few streets over to the oldest bakery in Mexico City, called The Ideal.

When we entered the plaza, the first thing that struck my eyes was the large cathedral to the left. It is, in fact, the largest cathedral in Latin America. The size of the cathedral is not as apparent, though, because the plaza itself is so huge. It also is one of the largest in the world. I took numerous pictures, but it was hard to capture the spirit of the place in a photo. It is so extensive with so many things going on that pictures do not really do it justice. Continue reading “5 Reasons to Visit Mexico City: #1 Constitution Plaza”

Learn to Say “Good Job” to Yourself

I have a friend who thought she was a terrible daughter. I watched her and listened to her, and I thought she was a great daughter. I had rarely seen someone so devoted to their mother. So, why did she think she was a terrible daughter? Because of the negative feedback of her mother when things didn’t turn out right.

What this woman had not learned to do was to see every gift she had given to her mother, every time she did her a favor, every time she listened to her, every sacrifice she had made and say, “good job” to herself.

We can easily let the negative feedback or lack of positive feedback keep us from viewing ourselves correctly and enjoying the encouragement of a job well done. That’s why we need to learn to see the good things that we do. We need to learn to say, “Good job, Wes” or “good job, whatever your name may be.” Continue reading “Learn to Say “Good Job” to Yourself”

How Three Foreign Cities Began to Feel Like Home

Old Cairo
In the middle of the giant, sprawling city of Cairo is Old Cairo, an old, walled city from the Middle Ages. It is now filled with shops, restaurants, mosques, coffee shops, and markets. According to our guide, it is the place where Egyptians feel most at home. There, in its coffee shops, the famous Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz wrote his books.

The architecture of Old Cairo is different than that of the West. There are minarets, intricate geometric patterns, domes, and other patterns that make it feel foreign, especially for those who have traveled little. This was definitely true for me and for my daughter. I had not traveled outside of the United States in 25 years. My daughter had never done so. It was night time, and the city was teeming with people. This is generally true in Old Cairo, but this was Ramadan. They had fasted all day, and now it was time to enjoy some conviviality with family and friends. Old Cairo was full to the brim. You may recall a scene in a movie where there is a car trying to escape or move in the midst of a crowd of people. That’s what it felt like.

After having traveled two days to get to Egypt, we were tired, and the experience of Old Cairo was a bit overwhelming. We got checked into our hotel, and we sat outside. Our guide said, “Do you want to go for a walk?” We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know how safe Egypt was. All we knew was what we had read in reviews of Egypt’s safety, including the ominous warnings from the State Department. So, we were cautious. We walked around and were greeted by many people. Our guide said to us, “No one is going to harm you in Egypt.” We arrived safely back at our hotel without incident.

That night, I went up on the roof where the restaurant was. They had no alcoholic beverages in Old Cairo. I did not yet know to order their delicious juices. So, I ordered a Sprite and went out on the small veranda that overlooked the city. I saw the people. I saw the whirling dervishes. I saw the festivity. From up on top of the hotel, it felt much more peaceful. I was there in Egypt! Continue reading “How Three Foreign Cities Began to Feel Like Home”

Think Most About the Joy of Each Day

Summary: when we invest our time in thinking most about the things that will give us joy, we will feel more calm, energy, and strength to move forward.

When you think of philosophy, you might think of esoteric questions like, “Is the chair really there?” or “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Those questions are more important than may appear at first glance, but most people are not really that interested in them. What people are interested in is finding a way to live better and make it through the struggles of life. The Stoics and many other philosophers in the time of Christ made that their focus. The philosopher Seneca made a surprising statement about what our most important task was. He wrote to his young apprentice Lucilius, “Above all, my dear Lucilius, make this your business. Learn how to feel joy” (Letter XXIII). How about a philosophy class that started out that way? Our first priority will be to help us all feel true joy.

It’s a business or a task, though, because joy is not always easy to come by. There’s a lot that can keep us from feeling joy.

To begin with, we do not work on it. Have we ever made it a goal? How many of us want to become people of great joy? How often have we prayed for it? Continue reading “Think Most About the Joy of Each Day”