Orienting Your Soul

You can’t love everything: because not everything is good. So when we start to love things that aren’t good, we disorient our souls.

If you loved everything equally, why would you care what you did next? How would you decide what to do? If all paths were equal, you would just take the path of least resistance. 

But all paths aren’t equal. There is clearly black and white, right and wrong.

If our goal is to love God better, and spend more time with him, the best way to orient our souls is to align our values with his. To love what he loves, and hate what he hates.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. -Romans 12:9

So if we begin to do the same, and choose realties and make decisions based on this guidance, we can be with him more.

The closer we get to understanding the right and wrong that’s established for us in his Word, the better we can orient ourselves with his values. And the better we orient ourselves with his values, the better decisions we can make. And the better decisions we make, the more tightly we can follow the path that he’s set before us.

We Must Forgive

Because we are not perfect, we must forgive ourselves. Because those who we love are not perfect, we must forgive them. Why, because when we don’t forgive them, a portion of them starts to fall outside of our set of love. Meaning that we begin to hate that part of them. And when we hate a part of something, we imagine fewer realties with it. And when we imagine fewer realties with them, we distance ourselves from them and from God.

Our friends and loved ones will never live up to our expectations. If we can manage to expect less, we can be grateful for what they do. For those things that we do expect, when they miss the mark, we must forgive them. It’s the only way to love them properly.

The Magic of Forgiveness

If love is where life happens and where God is, forgiveness is our way to change our hate into dislike, and bring people and events from the darkness into the light.

For instance, if someone wronged you in some terrible way, you may hate them. They have moved a portion of your reality into darkness. If you can manage to separate the wrong from the soul, and forgive it, you can make meaningful progress in moving into a reality where you can love God better.

For a traumatic event, you may hate someone or a portion of yourself. You may hate the portion of you that allowed it to happen, or the portion of them that committed the crime. Learning to forgive myself has been a huge challenge. And if I have done the wrong, I am the one that has ventured out of the light into the darkness. The only way back in is self-forgiveness.

The difference between a grudge and forgiveness is the difference between hate and dislike.

The only difference between hate and dislike is tolerance. If you dislike something, you accept that you will have to endure it. When you hate it, you are actively looking for ways to avoid it. Forgiveness is the magic that helps us move things from hate to dislike.

But we need reasons to forgive. If your believe system doesn’t provide these, you need to keep looking. In Christianity, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So we forgive.

It’s also important for our mental health. Imagine, for instance, that you hate firearms. Realities with firearms scare you. Therefore, to avoid all future realities with firearms in them, you have to really think ahead. But no matter how much planning you do, you’ll likely have another encounter with a firearm, and you’ll hate it. So maybe you seclude yourself. If you never exit your home, you’ll never have to encounter another firearm, or the fear that you’ve associated with it. But you see, your freedom from fear has become a freedom from freedom. 

Obviously you can’t forgive a gun. The next step would be determine the real source. Maybe it was military,  the death of a loved one, or any number of other things. Whatever it was, it can be identified. You don’t hate guns. You hate what someone did with one. If you can piece apart the person and object from the crime, you can begin to forgive, and start moving forward. 

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:13

 

Loving God Better

In a world of love, you literally choose to accept the contents of reality without imagining anyone being removed from that set.

In the set of love, one can use the like/dislike system to establish personal preferences, and eventually personality. And as you know God is love. This establishes character in a stable set.

Life happens in the set of love. 

If a personality is not built in the set of love, it is not stable. If it is built on hate, even on conditional hate, it is built on the ability to remove something from reality. Basically imagining things not existing. So it would be basing personal preferences on something that is unstable, or that does not exist.

For instance, when you say I hate photographers, you’re really thinking I prefer reality without photographers. But it’s not realistic. Photographers exist. So next time you’re around a photographer, you’ll hate it. And be probably miserable. Because you will exist outside the set of love.

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Grudges are a great example of how hate can make unstable realities. If you have a grudge against someone, and are at a party together. All is well until you run into that person. And things get awkward. You were fine until this hate entered your realty. Now you wish either they weren’t here or you weren’t here, but you’re stuck. And instead of enjoying yourself, you’re thinking about how either you want them to leave or you want to leave yourself.

If you hate the way you feel, you are distancing yourself from God. It seems trivial, and I’m not saying you need to like the way you feel. But dislike is not hate. When you got married, you promised in sickness and in health. God wants the same thing.

So if we live inside the set of love, and develop logic and personalities around our identity in this set, we can love God in more realities, and thus imagine more realities with God, and thus love Him better.

 

 

The Pride Trap

Pride is thinking your past or present makes you better than someone else. Humility is the opposite of pride. Humility is closely correlated with gratitude, which we said was greatest when expectations approached zero. Therefore, pride occurs when expectations are higher. The more we expect, the more prideful we are. And the more prideful we are, the harder it is to be happy.

If we were all made in the image of God and God is with us all, there is nothing to set you apart from the next person. You are equally special and important.

To think, I am better than everyone else, forces you to disconnect. No one is worthy of your love, so your reality begins to merge with realities that only include you. Loving this reality is the same as hating everyone else.

The more qualifications you have on your love, the less love you will have. And the less love you have, the less God you have.

Imperfect Love

Alternate Title: I Hate My Job

Can you love your life while looking forward to time away from her? No, not perfectly. If you look forward to time spent away from your wife, you are literally hating your wife, by our definition of love. So while you probably don’t hate her, your thoughts tell a different story.

What does looking forward to retirement say about your job? If you look forward to retirement, like most of us do, what does that say about you? You are looking forward to realities that do not include your job, therefore you hate your job in some capacity. You can’t truly love your job until you can see all future realities including it.

What if I look forward to when I put my kid to bed? If you look forward to putting your kids to bed, what are you saying about them. They aren’t tired yet. You put them down because you are excited about the freedom and time away from them. Be careful though, because this love of absence is the definition of hate.

So how do we love better? We stop imagining scenarios that involve us being apart from the people or things that we claim to love.

God loves us now and forever. He’s not trying to retire, or put us down, or just get some time to fish with his buddies. He is with us, no matter what, and that is what perfect love is.

Turning Grief into Love

Preliminary Reading: Defining Love and Applying Love to Forever

Grief is when you lose something you love. If love is defined as imagining all future realities with someone, grief would be losing something that you never imagined being apart from. Not because you expected your mother to always live for example, but because the positive parts of her will never be there again for you. So something that you had imagine all future realities including, is now gone. You have a void that will never be filled, depending on what you believe.

If you believe in the afterlife, you could hope to see them again. There would be at least one potential realty where you got to see them again. If you believe that they were going to the same afterlife as you, all potential outcomes involved the two of you together again, so grief becomes hope, becomes faith. And if you have faith that you will spend eternity with this person, you can still love them.

Applying Faith to Love

With our definition of love in the last post, we can make some very interesting applications.

You shouldn’t love anything you can’t take anywhere. But not just anywhere, you also shouldn’t love anything that time could take from you.

But no one can take your memory of things from you. You can take them anywhere. They are a part of you. So while you shouldn’t love golf, you can love your memories of golf. And like golf.

You shouldn’t love coffee. You may be addicted to coffee. You can like coffee, or prefer it over other drinks. But if you love coffee, you literally hate all the time that you don’t have coffee. Which is the same as being addicted to it, or asking God not to be with you when you don’t have coffee.

You shouldn’t hate broccoli. You can dislike broccoli. But to say you hate broccoli is the same as saying you wish that broccoli didn’t exist. And I don’t think that’s what you mean. You may hate eating broccoli, but if you hate eating broccoli, you literally can’t see yourself ever eating it. And if you can’t imagine one reality where you do something, you have no hope of ever doing it.

If you look at porn, you’re literally imagining yourself with other women. By hoping for realities that include these women, you are literally hating your wife, and disconnecting with God.

Can I hate my job? Of course you can. But you shouldn’t. Why? Because by imagining a future without your job, you ask God not to be present in the job you have. Instead of hating your job, dislike your job, be grateful for it, and hope that it will get better. Which literally means to imagine future positive realities.

Love your neighbor as yourself. According to Jesus, it was the second greatest commandment. Its spiritual application is not what it seems. How do we love ourselves? Our self-love is literally not imagining a future without ourselves. Remember? You, by default, love yourself.

That is exactly what Jesus means by this. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you quite literally cannot imagine realities without these people. So we’re called to not imagine realities without anyone. To not hate. Which would be to distance ourselves from God.

So if reality stretches past death, into the afterlife? If love is imagining future realities with someone, and reality exists after death, the only way to imagine future realities with everyone is to show them the Truth, if that is the way to the afterlife. Because if eternity is real, and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we want to go to heaven, so we can imagine ourselves in all future realities, that means we are called to spread the Word. Because without that, our neighbors can’t go to heaven, and if heaven exists, they wouldn’t go. And if we can’t imagine them in heaven, we hate them.

So as Christians, we cannot love people that are not saved. Not in the same way we love ourselves. Because we have eternity. That’s like saying I can imagine this life with you, but not the next. Which is not far from wishing them to go to the fiery place.

Defining Love

Preliminary Reading (optional): Time is like a tree, Reality, Truth, and Faith, Expecting Unhappiness, I am an Addict

Love is when you can’t imagine a future reality without someone or something. When all your future realities involve this someone, you love them.

 …for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part… 

This involves a range of potential future scenarios. But it’s a really wide range. Essentially, no matter the situation, we are together.

By default, you love yourself, because all of your future realities include you. If you don’t love yourself, you need to learn to, because there is literally no escaping it. Love is different than expectations, because love is something that you can take with you everywhere. So while you may be addicted to it, the fact that it is optional makes it a choice. And a habit rather than a chore.

And God is love. If God is love, God is literally not imagining a future reality without us. The fact that God is love is literally a promise to be with us. And Immanuel, is fulfillment of that promise.

Hate is the opposite of love. The ability to imagine a reality without someone or something. And loving that reality. So if God is love, the absence of God is hate.