Maybe I can’t receive love and really don’t know why. It has something to do with the deepest part of me. Something deep within either pushes away love charging at me, or steps aside when it comes. Like the matador who spins to let the bull pass, so I do the same to avoid the clash of love. Yes, something’s wrong with me. I don’t seem to experience human love. I don’t even understand it. The feeling of love is not really part of my life. Then, how to let love enter?
I used to be like this. Can you believe that I actually researched how to love? For many years my soul felt empty. Love had been reduced to doing something good for someone else. Period. It was something I did, detached from emotional enjoyment. I merely preformed it and checked it off my list of things that must be done. It was a very intellectual thing. I had to deliberately choose it and mechanically preform it.
My world of love didn’t include the enriching feelings that spontaneously swell within when giving. Even less, my pitiful concept of love had no place for receiving love as the starting place for everything.
I’d like to share twelve undervalued secrets how to let love enter. With consistency and focus I practiced all of these. It took fifteen months to whisk me from a suicidal state of mind to a profound feeling of abiding love. I experienced so much love that I begged God to lessen its intensity. My heart ached from receiving so much love. And then, giving love just happened. It overflowed. That was twelve years ago. I’m still a permanently changed person.
My secrets are not the result of studies. They come from a freely given gift from God. These “secrets” are rather simple. They are easily accessible to everyone.
My twelve secrets teach how to open the doors of your heart to receive God’s love, and close other doors that destroy love. Seven doors should be opened. Five doors should be closed. If you’re interested in experiencing profound human love, then start with receiving divine love. This is the first and most important secret, the first door to open.
1. Imagine receiving love.
Here’s the crazy thing, to receive love I must start with a person who loves me unconditionally. Yet, I don’t have to embark upon a search to discover someone who truly loves me. It’s not necessary to change who I am to be loved. I don’t have to wait for a friend, or parent, or spouse to change so that I can receive love.
No. love is already pouring upon me. It’s imperceptibly swimming all around me. I’m just not receiving it into my heart. It’s bouncing off my soul like a downpour hitting a rock and gushing away. Love is present abundantly. I don’t have a love deprivation problem; I have a blockage problem.
Jesus is the person who loves me unconditionally. I can now move beyond the intellectual recognition of this truth and the free will’s choice to accept it. Next, my senses, imagination, and emotions can surrender to this truth too. Once they do, I’ll feel the full force of God’s love in my soul. And filled, I’ll overflow. So, how to let love enter?
Pick an hour when nothing’s happening. Hide away where nobody will bother you. Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful place that comforts and soothes you. Shuffle through your senses. Imagine what you feel, see, smell, touch, and hear. Get lost in that place. Now imagine Jesus with you. Observe how much he loves you. Experience his unconditional love by employing your imagination. See how he accepts you, listens to you, holds you.
The specifics you imagine are not real. But what your imagination represents is very real. In a very human way, your imagination simply connects you with the reality of Jesus’s unconditional love for you. It soaks your tender emotions with this truth. It awakens them and confirms your relationship at an emotional level. Eventually, you will not only know that God love’s you, you will profoundly feel it.
This practice opens the primary door to receive love. The remaining eleven doors are oriented to make your newly discovered visual-prayer ever more powerful. How so? Each in their own way, the rest of the doors fine tune the sensitivity of your soul. They encourage an inner atmosphere prone to receiving.
2. Take in the beauty of nature.
I ought to get out of the house to experience nature. Go watch a sunset or sunrise. Lay on my back in a park and watch the clouds. Take a walk near a lake or at the beach. Climb up a hill or mountain and observe the horizon. There are a hundred ways to increase my exposure to nature.
This exposure to beauty tweaks my recognition of whatever is good for my soul. It adds color and attraction to my visual prayer, making it more alive. It moves my soul to light, happiness and hope. Love finds a way easier into me.
3. Listen to Romantic music.
Regardless of my music preferences, try some soft romantic stuff. Maybe I need to listen to gentle, simple, melodious, humane, beautiful music? I don’t want the tunes that stimulate rebellion, sexual fantasies, aggressive sentiments, or passionate longings. I want pure beauty that pulls at the heartstrings.
Such music strikes at the heart, shakes it and wakes it up. It truly opens the heart to love. It sensitizes my desire for love. Romantic music carries my soul to a place of wanting intimacy. It’s perfect for seeping into my visual prayer and directing my attention to Jesus.
4. Be kind to an animal.
Go out of my way to exercise kindness and affection for an animal. Look closely at how I treat animals. It says a lot about me. Anything that touches upon cruelness, harshness, or harmfulness needs to be stopped. Kind acts should flow from my heart. Hugs, caresses, and open arms of acceptance should be the norm. The love I show to the most vulnerable of creatures is a measure of how much I can love.
The love I offer to a human being can be returned with no semblance of love whatsoever. It may come back to me as an ugly rejection or a denial of my goodness. But a befriended pet doesn’t react like this. My pet receives my love and returns the same. So, this kind of relationship can be therapeutic. It can flower into a good habit beneficial toward participating in human love. It makes me familiar with the giving and receiving of love. Of course, nothing compares with mutual human love. But this more simply love can play a role in moving me toward greater love.
5. Be forgiving and compassionate.
There are plenty of opportunities to be kind to others. I can give a donation to a street beggar. I can listen when someone really needs to talk. What about washing a few dishes to help out? Can I forgive somebody who offended me? And compassion? What about showing some compassion?
These practices soften my heart. They put me into the zone of knowing how to recognize somebody’s goodness, regardless of appearances. I do unto others what I’d like others to do to me. What better way to make me familiar with receiving love. Giving teaches me how to receive. It teaches me how to let my guard down and not push away the love offered to me. So, the receiving aspect of my visual prayer can only benefit.
6. Try different books and movies.
Everybody loves a good movie, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The latest blockbuster is hard to skip. I may be addicted to thrillers and action flicks. Okay, let it be. At the same time, it would be helpful to choose some books and movies that offer themes complementary to my quest to receive love. Books and movies that highlight human relationships or probe the meaning of life and love are best.
7. Share your thoughts and feelings.
Getting things outside of the security and privacy of my soul will help me along the way. This is a big step because it means placing myself in a vulnerable position. Besides, this requires trusting in another person. So, prudence should be exercised here. Who can I trust to listen to my inner world? Be discerning. I want a good listener and a non-judgmental friend. The journey I’ve chosen to receive God’s love must be respected by whoever I choose.
Walking and talking and sharing my thoughts -births my inner experience into the real world. Everything I’m going through can’t remain only trapped inside my soul. It must eventually make contact with a real person in the real world. It can be a scary step, but necessary. The art is to find the right listener.
This helps prayer immensely. How? The more I confide in Jesus the more I’m able to confide in a human being. And the more I confide in somebody else, the more I can confide in Jesus. The result: love takes root in the real world.
8. Withdraw from driven work.
Plain old simple work is different from driven work. I need to work to put bread on the table. I can understand that. But I don’t need to live and breathe work from the first moment of waking to the last second before going to sleep. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few pleasant dreams of other things? Granted, there are times in life when intense work is necessary. But this must give way to prioritizing when I can’t receive love, ever. That’s a very serious problem. Can I really expect to last my whole life without it? Do I really want to turn into Ebenezer Scrooge?
Once I’m beyond the survival mode of existing, I need to ask myself two important questions. “What do I want more: money or love?” “Is it time to focus on love?” If I’m ready to fix my love problem, I need to put work in its place. I need to take a step back and look at the big picture. If I want to grow into a complete human being full of satisfying love, I need to devote time to nurture my emotional life.
Taming work opens my life wide to the pleasure of higher things. How to let love enter? Forsake the obsession of work. Suddenly, I have time to meditate. Amazing, where did this time come from? It comes from a deliberate choice to prioritize what’s most important for the rest of my life.
9. Get rid of distractions.
Distractions certainly have their place in our dog-eat-dog world. I’m the first one to admit they’re necessary. Emerson in a spy novel, a hilarious tweet, or a nail-biting flick may each serve the purpose of dealing with complex and stressful challenges. But such activities should be kept in their place. My life should not be inundated with endless distractions that choke the soul from appreciating the value of more simple things and essential aspects of life. I should be able to shut down my cell phone for an hour or two to meditate or enjoy a nature-filled walk.
It’s hard to meditate without distractions. They’ll come no matter what. But why keep throwing distraction-wood on the distraction-fire. Simplify life. The more my daily life swims in distractions, the harder it is to get lost in quality meditations.
10. Withdraw from critical and negative people.
I should limit my exposure to anyone who makes fun of me, mops the floor with me, criticizes me, humiliates me, or treats me with no respect. I want beauty, light, love, and truth in my life, not poison. I’m a priceless and unique person, lovable and full of goodness. Being treated like trash denies my inherent goodness and tears me down. I should therefore remove myself from such treatment as much as I can. I’d remove myself from a radioactive environment, wouldn’t I? What about an “emotionally-radioactive-environment?” Even Superman flees from kryptonite.
This is really important. Sticking around rotten souls who do nothing but tear me to pieces absolutely destroys me. Get away from them. They do nothing but harm. And my prayer will benefit. Place myself in the presence of someone who truly appreciates me. My whole self-perception will gradually change. I’m worth the world and Jesus’s loving gaze upon me will convince me.
11. Be myself – no mask wearing.
I really need to take off the mask, and be exactly who I am. If I’m a slave to what people think, I may wear a mask of competence, virtue, success, or intelligence. Actually, there are a lot more masks too. How about the happy mask? Or the funny mask? It may be that my mask has been stuck to my face for a long time. My very identity may be inseparable from the superficial self-appearance I’ve orchestrated. So, I may need to scrutinize who I really am beneath the surface. That’s the true person I need to be.
Removing the mask is imperative so that I can be loved for who I am. If the mask remains the mask is loved, not me. This tearing off of the mask begins with my prayer. I sit there with Jesus, enjoying the sunset, with my mask dashed in the sand. I can see that he accepts me for who I am. Once I muster the courage, I can venture forth into the real world without the mask. Heaven forbid! Some people will not like me. That’s okay. Other’s will respect and accept me. But then I’ll know: I’m accepted for who I am.
12. Stop the self-affirmation.
Of course, it’s okay to seek some self-fulfillment or develop some self-assertion, or build some self-confidence. These are all noteworthy human qualities to succeed in a challenging world. But the deeper meaning of self-affirmation is something else completely. It’s not something good. At its core, self-affirmation often means trying to achieve things to make myself loved, accepted, and valued. I struggle to become important, rich, or famous to be significant. This personal striving to become lovable defines self-affirmation.
I’m not the source of my receiving love. How do I give myself what I don’t have? Can I really earn love? Can I pick myself up by my own boot straps? When all is said and done, unconditional love for me begins with another person, regardless of what I do or don’t do. I do nothing to obtain it. I may clear the path to facilitate love’s entrance, but I’m not the cause of receiving love. I simply surrender and welcome it. Self-affirmation is completely the opposite. My goodness! Think about it. When I forge ahead and to make myself loved, I’m not loved at all for who I really am. If I live by the process of self-affirmation I’ll never be loved.
If I want to really want to experience somebody’s unconditional love for me I need to stop trying to earn that love. How to let love enter? Don’t try to prove myself worthy of acceptance.
Receive love – and change entirely.
You may still wonder about human love. We said a lot about receiving Jesus’s love, but what about receiving the love of another everyday human being? How do these secrets apply to me? My boyfriend? My girlfriend? My husband? My wife?
The twelve secrets of receiving love are a starting place for every human relationship. I start with God’s love filling me. But this is not the end, it’s only the beginning. I’ll gradually be able to receive anybody’s love, if love is there at all, with great ease. How so? These twelve secrets will change me into a person prone to receive and enjoy any good that comes my way. I’ll grow into a different kind of person. No longer a pitcher, I’ll become a catcher.
I invite you to take a step in faith. Why not just try what worked for me? If you’re loved-starved, what do you have to lose? Commit yourself with intensity and focus for fifteen months, thirty minutes a day, and you’ll see. (I meditated for an hour a day.) Embrace every secret and things will slowly but surely change for you. Give God a chance. He made you for love, believe it or not. How to let love enter? Just start.