by Dr. Paul Hardy
Founder and Executive Director– Recovery for Life Ministries
True or False:
__ “Love conquers all.”
__ “All you need is love.”
__ “Love heals all wounds.”
__ “God is love.”
The false statement is “All you need is love.” I remember when I met the girl who would one day be my bride; we were so in love. My dad asked me how we would pay for rent, school bills and food. “We’re in love and we can live on love, Dad,” was my reply. That statement grew complicated as we married, became pregnant and had to live in the real world.
All you need is love? There are many other things we need in life. Yet without love we cannot survive. Love is a quality that gives sacrificially, without considering its own wants or needs.
I hear the love in a parent’s voice when they share the story of their son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter who has run away. I hear the love in the spouse’s trembling words as they share stories of abuse, loss, and tragedy.
There are certain barriers to love and being loved:
HURT: If a person’s heart is filled with hurt and strong memories of hurtful experiences, it can be hard for them to give or receive love. They may build a thick wall around their heart.
Lana was so hurt from her first marriage that she felt she could never trust again. When she discovered that the pain was compounded by her relationship with her dad, who had cheated on her mom numerous times, she was able to prepare herself to avoid charmers like her dad and first husband.
The only real solution to wounds is healing. Healing shows up in numerous and creative ways. The most common route to healing is simply to ask God for it. When we ask God to heal our broken hearts, most often a change happens. There is a sense of relief. A feeling of empathy may flood our hearts. This empathy may be for ourselves and even for the person or persons who have offended us.
UNFORGIVENESS: It is a strange paradox to think that if we do not forgive someone for their wrong actions, we ourselves carry much of the weight of the situation. They may have moved on emotionally. The truth is, they may not even be aware something’s gone wrong. People often tell me, “I’ve already forgiven the person.” The depth of forgiveness is not a simple exercise of saying I forgive you. People superficially forgive with the declaration, “but I will never forget.” That’s not forgiveness.
Forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt they owe; it is letting go of the expectation that they will ever:
- say they are sorry
- explain why they did what they did
- understand your feelings
- recognize the harm they’ve done
Forgiveness is NOT allowing them to rush right back into your life to do more damage. It is NOT giving them free reign of your heart and life to damage you or others again.
HATE: Hatred will build such a wall of protection around your heart that not even the good guys can get in. When a person gives way to hatred, they become an emotional island. Vengeance often accompanies it and the result is a bitterness that no one wants to be around.
APATHY: When a person gives up on sharing and receiving love, it is a sad day. Wouldn’t you rather someone hate you than ignore you. Isn’t it easier to deal with anger than being left out? Isolation sets in and the wounded person shuts down. Unmotivated, they may give up on live.
Give Love a Chance
A woman was caught in adultery. She had sinned and was caught in the very act. The religious leaders brought her to Jesus expecting he would be in a quandary, not knowing what to do with her. He knelt down and began to write in the sand. One by one, the religious men turned away and left. “Where are your accusers?” he asked her.
Jesus is pure love. He is the truest expression of love:
1. LOVE FORGIVES: When Jesus hung on the cross, he expressed the greatest act of forgiveness when he cried out, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
2. LOVE LETS GO: no, we cannot forget the past and just move on. What we can do is reframe the past and envelope our pains, fears, hurts and wounds with forgiveness and meaning.
A young man who is in a dangerous service industry came in because of an addiction in his life. He could not envision what he could possibly do with this dreaded addiction that was connected with pain from his past. Reframing it means that he attaches new meaning to the purpose behind why he struggles and how it is not working for him. By reframing his past pain, his present is more manageable.
3. LOVE RESTORES: the goal of love is to restore relationships and bonds between people. Love seeks to reconnect by breaking down barriers.
4. LOVE HEALS: Americans are over-medicated and over-stressed. People seek peace in so many places. What brings whole, lasting peace is a healing encounter with the risen Christ!
It healed Saul from being a murderer. He was persecuting Christians and seeking permits to have them killed. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was transformed and peace flooded his heart as never before.
It may be that you have been in despair. Rock bottom, the end of your rope, your last straw may be your favorite phrases. Today you can seek a new path and a different way of thinking. By forgiving and seeking forgiveness, you can change the pains of your past and bring hope into your future by seeking healing for your life.
This blog article was written by Dr. Paul Hardy, a champion for the cause of broken and addicted people. For the last 12 years, he and his wife Suzie have dedicated their lives to helping people break free from the bondages of addictions and compulsive behaviors. Together, they founded Recovery for Life, a non-profit that ministers to over 300 people a week in the Virginia Beach, Tidewater area. He is also the Director of the Life Counseling and Recovery Center of Eastern Virginia. Visit their Recovery for Life website (formerly Recovery for the City)