There are times when we totally love God, and then there are other times. I grew up with the command to love God with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. The command was not presented in a fearsome and judgmental context, but in a kind and gentle way. It registered on my mind, and I sometimes felt not quite right when I was not doing this. But no one ever introduced me to a way to do it. Eventually I realized that we need an on-ramp to love, indeed many on-ramps, and I found some that worked for me. Actually the entire truth, beauty, and goodness program of personal growth represents such an on-ramp. But the time finally came (today) when I sought a more direct approach.
If we explore the meaning of this command in each of its four aspects, and if we then make a personal and wholehearted decision to do pour forth this love immediately upon gaining a glimmer of understanding of each aspect–when that love begins to pour forth–then a new kind of fulfillment can break through.
The heart, as I interpret it is our motivational center. It represents our commitment to the values that motivate our decisions about what to do. These values are not simply our ideals for ourselves, but the values that actually operate in daily life. After working on truth, beauty, and goodness for a long time, it becomes easy to commit to these values as supreme. But there’s a frontier that remains: secondary values. Noticing ourselves reacting to situations in ways that don’t feel quite right, we make the adjustment so that the secondary value aligns with the primary value and with the source of values: love. For example, we exchange a loving attitude for an inward frown (prompted by seeming to recognize the lack of a particular value in someone). We remember: oh, this person, like each of us, is a divinely created, infinitely loved, spiritually indwelt, evolutionary, free-will son or daughter of God. Our Father’s spirit is in this person, and we can love him in the other person.
The mind is the place where we study to gain a better understanding of other people and of the divine ways. The Creator does not merely give us a mind to struggle with on our own, stumbling by chance into using it successfully or failing miserably. There is divine ministry to the mind. In the variety of activities that arise from day to day, we engage functions of mind in which we can learn to seek and find God and the creation. Think of the mind’s scientific, moral, and spiritual gears, and functions of mind that we share with other creatures. We can relax the mind and allow intuition to dawn, perhaps after investigating and reflecting in the light of reason. In these ways, our thinking gradually becomes a little better day by day. And when we wholeheartedly dedicate our mind to loving God, to sustaining that love all day long, and to putting other mental activities into the encompassing framework of love, changes begin to appear right away.
The soul is beyond the mind. It is the true self, where no mask disguises our authentic and emerging status as children of God. When we leave behind for a while being centered in the mind and center instead in the soul, our relationship with God becomes more simple. We can love in a quieter and gentler way, or in a more vigorous and profound way than we conventionally do when we are not centered soulfully. Today’s story about loving God is about a very happy time. But it is essential to include a side that is less featured in popular religion and spirituality. Friendship with God is not only for the joyous times. In the soul we can weep and mourn and ponder serious matters without needing to hurry to put on a happy face. We do not need to keep up appearances, but we do need to abide in the truth of our relationship with the Father’s spirit presence. In and as soul, one step closer to God, we stay connected. We can express celebratory discoveries of truth, beauty, and goodness—or the agony of the lack of these values—and when the time is right we emerge into back into the light. In the soul we can silently enjoy the back and forth of receiving and returning the Father’s love; we can communicate in wordless pulses and feel (albeit dimly) the divine response in the values that gleam in the worshipful and gratefully attentive mind. When as soul we thoroughly commit to loving God, that beautiful wholeness of sincerity is more powerful than a commitment rooted only in the mind.
To love God with all our strength implies a commitment to steadfastness over time, no matter what challenges arise. This is where cosmic stamina comes in. When we sense any shrinking back from wholehearted love in this dimension, we turn to the area which we are reluctant about and mobilize our commitment to love in that type of situation too.
Thanks to divine spirit uplifting my own mortal efforts, I must have reached a sufficient alignment by today to be ready to make this unified and multidimensional commitment. This is a way of saying that one cannot simply achieve a great decision by following a written description regardless of one’s prior preparation and maturity. It’s not like putting a coin in a juke box and getting the music automatically. Nevertheless, I cannot help believe there is tremendous power for anyone in the wholehearted determination to break through the barrier that separates us from loving of God fully. Each person’s breakthrough will be unique, no matter how the descriptions may vary or overlap. In the end there is not much to say, since words cannot convey the nuances of value feelings and the gestures of heart, mind, soul, and body, some unremembered, some inexpressible.