In 2003 I wrote a book that has generated more feedback and questions from readers than anything else I have ever written. This blog is my response to the question that I continue to be most asked about it.
The book was Surrender to Love. In it I described the possibilities and life-enhancing consequences of knowing that the universe is friendly. That “friendliness” has nothing to do with a guarantee that you won’t experience bad things. You will. That’s the nature of life. But, the reason you can trust the flow of life is because you are held in Love.
You and everything that exists sprang into existence as the outpouring of Love. Love is your source, your destiny, and the foundation of your being. Your existence in God guarantees these things. But, knowing information is not the same as living the reality of its truth.
The question I am most asked in response to this book is why it so often seems impossible to move this knowing from head to heart – from belief to experience. Sometimes people tell me that they feel unworthy or unlovable and seem to think this is the problem. Others tell me that they are quite capable of knowing the love of humans but wonder how they could ever expect to know the love of an unseen God.
I do not believe that knowing God’s love is fundamentally different than knowing the love of anyone else. Think of someone who loves you. How do you know this? You might say it is because of what they do. But seeing how they behave does not automatically translate into you actually knowing that you are loved. You only know that by paying attention to what you experience in their presence, or what you experience when you recall this presence in times of absence. And the same is true with God.
Self-preoccupation is a major reason we do not know love. Low self esteem feeds on itself when it keeps us self-preoccupied. The antidote to low self esteem is getting our eyes off ourselves. It is giving love instead of being preoccupied with receiving it. And it is noticing the love that surrounds us and opening ourselves to it. Stop trying to classify love. There is no need to distinguish love of pets, spouses, friends or God. Love is love. And all love is God’s love – poured out into creation and mediated more or less perfectly by the world and all its inhabitants. Some experience this love in church, others in an embrace or time spent with dear friends, and yet others while walking in a forest or sitting by a stream. But in each case it is God’s love. For God is love and where love is, God is. And where God is, love is.
This is the truth that expressed in the following short poem by Hafiz:
Find God everywhere, but keep it a secret.
Next time you see a friendly dog, lift it’s ear and say, “I see you!”
Knowing that you are held in and by Love changes everything. How do you know this? Just notice, receive and then pass on the love that is at the heart of all life. Or, start by passing it on. But open yourself to love. And when you do you will come to know that you and all of life are afloat on the river of love that surges out from the One whose name is Love.