I work part-time for a hospice group. Part of what I do is facilitate bereavement groups for those who are coping with the loss of a loved one. Not too long ago, a lady who had lost her husband was telling the story of her 72 years of marriage. She said, “We had a good marriage, but we also had our ‘ups and downs.'”
They had a good, lasting marriage, but it was not perfect. In fact, no marriage is perfect because the people in a marriage are not perfect. Anyone who is under the illusion that they are marrying a perfect person better wake up. No one is perfect.
The biggest mistake some people make when they are about to marry is this: they really love their future spouse but there is something they cannot or will not accept about that person’s character. So they get married with the intention of changing that person.
That has never worked. We can only change ourselves. Change can only come from within. External pressure never works and often causes resentment. Change can only take place in an atmosphere of love. Remember: I can only change myself, not anyone else.
How do we create an atmosphere of love? Love is wanting what is best for the beloved. Love concerns itself with the well-being of the other. However, we can accept or reject love. If we do not think we are loveable, we will not accept or maybe doubt the love of our loved one.
God loves us very dearly. The Almighty bestows love unconditionally. God wants us to appreciate our own giftedness and abilities. Sometimes, we do not see the inner beauty that God sees. Remember the great commandment: love God with our whole heart, mind and soul; love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
One reason that we do not love ourselves is that we have sinned in the past, made stupid mistakes or made some bad choices. Someone once said, “Don’t let your doing condemn your being.” In other words, don’t let the mistakes you have made in the past, determine who you are. You are a child of God. God loves us even though we have made mistakes.
Start a fresh new life. Forgive yourself for what you have done. Don’t live in the past. Forgive others who have hurt you so you are free to live in the present where no one has a hold on you.
Let’s talk about happiness. Everyone wants to be happy and we hope and pray that everyone will experience happiness. However, you cannot make another person happy. Happiness is not something external. It comes from within. The writers of the Declaration of Independence got it right when they declared our creator endowed us with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
You can only find happiness by being the person God made you to be and sharing your gift with others. Only then can you truly appreciate the love God has for you and respond to that love by loving God and loving others as you love yourself.
To sum up: Love yourself as God loves you, unconditionally, as a mother loves her child. Invite God to be part of your everyday life.
Live in the present. The past is gone. Let it go. Forgive and forget. However, don’t make the mistake of living in the future. The future is not real. The present moment is all that we have and it’s God’s gift to us right now. Live totally in the present. That is where your love and relationships will grow.
Work at building relationships every day and create that atmosphere of love. If you do, you will find the happiness that you are seeking.