There are times in some relationships and circumstances we can feel so drained it seems we have no more love to give.
I have experienced this a number of times. More recently, though, instead of wanting to give up, I have reflected on my own need of an upgrade in my relationship with God.
Returning to the metaphor of the River of Life, I am reminded that water is freshest if it is flowing. What we receive from God is not meant to be bottled up inside us, but passed on as a blessing to others. If we try to hold it to ourselves, if we dam up the flow, we cease to experience its freshness. It becomes stagnant and stale.
The best way for us to continue to have a fresh touch from God is to continue to pass the blessings on to others. However, we also must remain connected to the Source. This leads to a question:
If we remain connected in our relationship with God, the Source of all love, can we really get to a place where we have run dry?
Further insight into the importance of love came as I helped my mother clean out her old house this past week. As a rental, there were quite strict instructions on how the property was to be left to retrieve the bond. One of the instructions she particularly struggled with was that each blade of the Venetian blinds was to be cleaned individually. She felt it was overkill. To be blatantly honest though, it was necessary. The even bigger challenge in this was that there were eight floor to ceiling windows of micro-Venetians. Somehow, this job ended up with my name on it!
About two and a half windows in, I was really battling with the task. The weather was not helping at some thirty degrees (C) outside. There was a point where I could feel myself ready to snap, not just figuratively, but the actual blinds! I contemplated going and buying some new ones for a micro-second. And then I mentally "girded up my loins" and decided that I was not going to be beaten by some blinds; I was not going to give in to my weakness. I could finish the job! It was just a matter of discipline and pacing myself.
Deciding to connect with God in this space, I asked Him how I could use the time positively. I then saw that in performing this task I had the opportunity to bless the new occupants of the house, both in a physical sense as well as spiritually. The energy I was exerting could invest a blessing toward them.
I also realised that this task was also about character. I saw that my own character had developed. In the past I would have given up, or at least have complained and gotten angry or annoyed with either my mother or the property manager.
And somewhere in the middle of all this, the connection with the giving of love appeared. The dots joined and I saw a bigger picture:
Love must be the foundation of all we do.
Not that this is a new thought, but because we can often get into a functional mode with the things we do. We do them because we must; because it is our role; because we are paid to; because we want to use our gifts. In the middle of all this, a rewrite of 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind: "If I [write with eloquence and words of great persuasion], but [write] without love, I am but a clanging gong". You can put your own slant on it.
The important point is that when our actions are founded on love, when we connect with God's heart of love for others in our relationships with them, then we also connect with His power. We land at "Love never fails". Unpacking what that looks like we could say that love never fails meet its objective: to touch; to heal; to empower; to turn up...if we are willing to allow it.
Some relationships are really tough, though. Some people seem they will never change - they cannot see the need, or just seem to lack the will or capacity. Others don't seem to appreciate what is being given and the personal cost. In these scenarios, it can be very tempting to say, "Enough! I have given enough of my time and energy here, and I have nothing left to give!"
While I will not deny that it is important to set boundaries and give ourselves space in these scenarios, we also need to recognise that
the Source of our love has endless supply.
There is never a drought; provision is never limited. If we find ourselves running out, it is most likely because we have not taken time to be replenished.
There are two aspects to note here . One is about self-care, something those in roles caring for others, or having strong empathy often struggle with. Other people's needs always seem more important. The second is related.
If we have not learnt to set those boundaries, to put structures around us to ensure our own needs for rest and replenishment are met, we will burn out, we will run out of love, and it is only a very short time before running on empty means we shut down.
When we feel we are all out of love, there are two check points. The first is to make sure of our motivations: do I do this because it fulfils a need in me, or do I genuinely care for the other person? The second check is to ensure our own connection with the Source is secure and flowing well.