“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” KJV

Most of us are unable to love Jesus to the extent that He asks us to. Some of us try, but we fall short. I think it is important for us to love Him as much as we possibly can, rather than to say “well, my love for Him isn’t good enough so I’m not even going to try.” I’ve heard some people say “trying is lying,” however, I disagree. I think that trying to love Jesus the best we can, under whatever circumstances we are experiencing, is the best thing to do. Right now, my left knee, which I must have sprained without even realizing it, hurts greatly. It actually hurts more than the broken ankle, same leg, of ten years ago. Whenever I see the doctor, or end up in the ER, they always ask me where my pain level is on a scale from 1 to 10. I never know how to answer that one. It is like the “what do you think things will be like five years from now question? Like, who knows!” so I just throw out a number. When I am lying or sitting, I’m fine. But walk on that thing and it feels like more than a 10. “but I love You anyway, Jesus!” I nearly scream. The doctor says “take tylenol.” Yeah, right. That’s like a placebo; doesn’t do a thing. She won’t prescribe that addictive stuff, which is good, in the long run, though I’d like to yell at her about it. So the best “pill” is Jesus. Loving Him really does take some of that pain away, or at least down to a lower level.

Reminding myself that Jesus, Himself, experienced the worst pain of all helps me realize that I am not alone in this–He can and does relate.

And sometimes we “get to” do things we never thought we could. I was at a seminar with the National Federation of the Blind today and I needed to pay for my meal right away or possibly miss out. Food motivates me. I struggled with my wheelchair because I am not the best driver around, being totally blind. But you know what, I got up to the front of the room, paid and got back to my place at the table. It took me a while. I met a few obstacles, including a few human ones, on the way. Some of us laughed about it. A couple people who could see some gave me contradictory directions, which was hillarious. But now I knew that if I really needed to get out of that room, I could. There wasn’t any of that “watch out! watch out!” stuff we often hear. There wasn’t any “You can’t do that. You’re going to hurt yourself or someone else.” My blind friends let me do what I could do but helped if I got into big, deep doodoo. I expected deep doodoo and didn’t get into it. So if this stupid twisted knee hadn’t happened, I say, somewhat cringing, I might never have realized that I could get from point A to point B away from home in a wheelchair, without someone pushing me.

When Jesus asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we may not love our neighbor with the unconditional love that Jesus has for us. If, through abuse or other early trauma, we learn to dislike, maybe even despise ourselves, then it is difficult to love our neighbor in a good and reasonable way. So most of us fall way short of following this commandment. Other than allowing ourselves to feel totally overwhelmed about how poorly we are loving our neighbor, (glass half empty), we can strive each day to do this lovingness better and more each day (glass half full). Improving on what we have done in the love realm is important.

We can follow the example of Jesus, Himself, and His unconditional love for us. Cats, too, have unconditional love for us, unless they have been terribly abused. The unconditional love of my cats has helped me through the years until I began to understand, even on an infinitessimal level, the perfect love Jesus has for us, for me (everyone say, “for me.” Even though we know that our amount and type of loving isn’t the greatest, it is better to offer what we can in our loving Jesus, loving Him, everyone say “Loving Him.” .

Valentine’s Day is looming ahead. Yeah, I know, most of it is worldly crazy-making. Maybe we can improve on what’s out there by making a special, conscious effort of loving our neighbor as unconditionally as we possibly can. Some people give up stuff for Lent. Maybe we could say or do something special this Valentine’s Day for our neighbor.

Now Toby, my now eldest kitty, is being somewhat less than unconditional in his love for me by saying “I’m your neighbor, gimme food.” I knew that was coming.

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