“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.”
~1 John 4:20
“It’s the most important work you’ll ever do,” God said to me as I weeded my flower garden.
“Pulling out dandelions?” I asked, incredulous.
“No,” God laughed. “Seeking the barriers you have built in your heart to love and dismantling them. You’ve been praying about your work, and this is my answer.”
“What does that mean, exactly, to seek the barriers to love and dismantle them?” I asked, wanting God to be more specific.
“Like every baby that comes into my world, you were born with a whole heart. Love is your default position. But as people wounded you, you learned to fear. You learned to protect yourself by putting others down, or worse, vilifying or demonizing them. You stopped seeing them as my precious children. You aren’t the only one who does this. Everyone does this. It’s everyone’s most important work to heal their wounds so that they can love with a whole heart again,” explained God.
“How do we heal our wounded hearts?” I asked.
“You start by being aware of every instance you feel afraid or angry. You become aware of what you say and do. You learn to forgive, and you learn to be humble. You learn that by helping others, you are helping yourself, too,” God said.
I wiped a tendril of hair from my face with my dirty glove. I could feel the earth cling to my cheek.
“That dirt on your face?” God asked. “That’s where you came from. It is where you will return. Your time on Earth is short compared to eternity with me. Use your time to heal, to dismantle your barriers to love. Nothing else matters as much as that. I want you to come home to me with a whole heart.”
I thought about my family and friends that annoy me—their difference in opinions and perceptions—and I wondered how I might turn towards them, instead of pulling away, or worse, not listening to them at all. And I realized that God was asking me to not only do the obvious work of not hating or harming others; He was asking me to work on the subtle, almost imperceptible feelings and opinions—the judgements—that barricade me from loving fully.
I nodded. I understood. Our journey here is all about learning how to heal our wounded hearts so that we can love fully; so that we can take a whole heart home.