What happens when all of the exchange, the barter, the commerce falls away?
It’s the ego side of us who deals and bargains and compares. What’s of value? What’s worthy? Who’s worthy? Are we worthy? The very human side of us that puts a price and comparison on ourselves and one another.
What happens when all of that falls away?
When all of that falls away, there is pure love. Nothing else. Just Love.
Not love attached to a price or a reasoning or an if/then. Just Love.
And out of that Love, we grow more fully than we ever possible could out of trying desperately to be worthy in the exchange of love.
Pure Love. Love that is worthy of Grace. The Love God already blesses us with. God isn’t waiting for us to be worthy or “enough” to love us. God loves us. Purely.
We can feel this echo of God’s love in our own lives with one another. When we trust and share and love. When our small fears fall away. The fears of: It won’t be okay. That there is not enough. That we will look silly. That we will look weak. That we are not worthy of love. And then we, in turn, decide who else is not worthy of love. Instead of just loving. Instead of echoing God’s Pure Love.
When we have a product, we sell it in exchange. We do work, in exchange for money. We trade our eggs for your honey. An appropriate exchange for goods and services.
A bargaining. A barter. One thing for another. In trade, there is a value on things and a sense of scarcity. I must get this…before it’s gone. Also my item has this value, so in order for you to get this item from me, you must give me something of equal (or even better: greater) value.
It works in stuff and commerce.
It doesn’t work in Love. It doesn’t carry over to all aspects of life.
But we put a price on everything. It starts young. It is fed throughout our lives. Life is a series of exchanges and agreements and bartering. And notice that we are taught that there isn’t enough for everyone?
It doesn’t actually work in real Love, but we treat love this way anyway. If (blank), then (blank).
–Mom will love us more if we are good.
–Dad will notice (love) us more if we are bad.
–Ideally we get more love or more notice than our siblings, because there isn’t enough attention or love to go around.
As an aside: it’s probably a mother’s love that mostly closely, naturally resembles, the pure love of God (not in all cases, of course), but perhaps this is why so many people are resonating with a mothering God over the traditional fathering God. But I’ll leave that for you to ponder for yourself.
This “not enough love” and “exchanging love” grows with us. We begin to create untrue versions of ourselves in exchange for love. We exchange our morals for love. We take up smoking, drinking, shoplifting, etc. because we think it will make people like us. We exchange our smarts, our grades, our integrity, our passions, our creativity, even our dreams, etc. for more love. We exchange who we are for love. PAUSE.
And we also expect others to change for us. If only they were (blank), then we could love them. We would love them more if they were just (blank). And then said person tries to exchange that part of themself for our love. And the cycle goes on and on and on.
A love that is based on exchange not truly love. It’s not true acceptance of who we really are and what we really have to give. And so we have this great circle of love based on a foundation that is not real.
We do it to ourselves too.
–If we (blank), then we will love ourselves.
–If we just lose ten pounds, then we will love ourselves.
–If we get this raise, then we are worthy (of love).
We will love our neighbor, but only if they stop doing this, that, and the other thing. They aren’t worthy of love because they aren’t meeting the neighborly exchange for love. It’s really their fault.
When we choose our life partners, or begin to share life with them, there’s often more of a sense of exchange than love.
It’s said that a good compromise is when both parties are equally unhappy. That’s how you know the exchange was fair. No one really “lost”. No one’s ego got more bruised than the other. No one should feel hurt. It was all “even”.
Maybe that works in trade. But it doesn’t work in love.
It’s what we do if we’re not paying attention. It’s how things have always been done. Kind of like the merchants (we’ll get back to them in a moment). We get so caught up in exchange mentality and deficit mentality (that there might not be enough love and so we should probably sell ourselves short to get some). And fear…fear that the other person will stop loving us or worse we get taken advantage of and we “look bad”.
We can’t put a value on love. Real love is listening to one another and listening to what’s important to each other so that what’s important to one becomes important to the other. Becomes important to both. Loving relationships fall away into “our”. A win is giving when it’s more important to the other person without trying to get an exchange in the bargain. An “okay, but if/then”.
Love is not, I will love you IF. It’s I will love you.
In safe, loving relationships (they take cultivation and work and attention and love–not to state the obvious) this works. There are bumps in the road, but love wins when love is put first. Not the ego. Not the fear that someone will think we got taken advantage of. Love. In love, everyone ends up happy, not both parties end up equally unhappy. That’s commerce. In love both parties end up happy, even in a give and take.
How often have we done this bargaining with God?
–Oh God, if you just give us this, this one time, we promise we will never do (blank) again.
–Oh God, if you (blank), then we will (blank).
We’re trying to bargain and barter with God. There’s a difference between Please, God! Help! And a barter.
The merchants aren’t bad people. In fact, they are good people. Just like us. They pray. They fast. They do good work. In exchange, God will favor them. Perhaps the caution is to do the good work for the sake of the Good Work, not to gain more blessings from God. As an exchange. A bargain.
God gives freely. We have God’s Love without any exchange. God has enough Love. We live as if love in finite, but Love in infinite. God’s love is infinite. We live small and pretend it’s big, but it’s big and we’re actually treating it as small.
We know, in the Quiet temple that holds only God (the building, the inner temple within us), that we are filled with God’s Love. There’s no bargaining needed. Just quiet trust. We love God and accept the blessings that come to us and seem like punishment. We love God and accept the blessings that seems like blessings.
In love, the bargaining falls away to “our” and in Love to that something much deeper than “our”. Complete connection that surpasses all understanding. The bargaining falls away to the Purest Love. Perhaps this is what is happening when the temple is cleared out and it is only Jesus standing alone, in the stillness, in the quiet, in the light of God, basking in Purest Love.