Love is an intangible object. Just because we can’t feel something doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Sometimes it is a matter of learning how to think in a new way, discovering what adjustments and changes will allow our spirit to recognize Heavenly Father’s love. There are five things I’ve found, when I do them regularly, help me to understand how to feel God’s love, and inspire change.
For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” Michelle Obama, Becoming
1 | Trusting God
I’m reminded of a story about a little girl and a pearl necklace. She wanted a pearl necklace more than anything. She had her eye on a dollar-store string of pearls. By completing simple chores and saving her birthday money, she finally had enough to make the much-desired purchase.
This necklace meant the world to her. She wore them everywhere, and she couldn’t imagine life without them. One night her father came to tuck her in bed and asked if she loved him. Her reply was, “Of course I love you, Daddy!” He then asked for her pearl necklace. Shocked at the request, she offered her favorite toy pony. But her father merely kissed her on the forehead and told her it was okay.
Week after week the father asked his daughter the same question at bedtime. “Do you love me? Then give me your pearls.” By the third week, the daughter was solemnly waiting when Daddy came to tuck her in. Held tightly in her hand was the string of pearls. With a tremble in her chin and a quiver in her voice, she said “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”
He reached for the dime-store necklace with one hand and with the other, he pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of real pearls. He was just waiting for her to give up her dime-store trinket so he could give her a genuine treasure.
“Faith means that we trust not only in God’s wisdom but that we trust also in His love. It means trusting that God loves us perfectly, that everything He does — every blessing He gives and every blessing He, for a time, withholds — is for our eternal happiness.”
2 | Letting Go to Grow
Sometimes Heavenly Father is just waiting for us to let go of our cherished dime-store prize, what we think we want and need, for something greater than we can imagine. We hold on to bad habits, selfish pleasures, and unhealthy relationships because we become so attached and it seems unbearable to let them go.
What helps me is to I focus on growing instead of what I think I’m missing. Doing hard things has been proven to boosts our confidence and nurtures positive a positive self-image.
The best way to do this is to keep a record, write it down, journal about the hard things, and how it felt to grow. This process helps adjust our perspective and start seeing ourselves the way God does.
3 | Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is an expression of Love. Have you ever noticed how good it feels when you recognize how much someone loves you? They might express their love by doing, saying, or giving something nice. Or maybe it’s a big hug or gentle embrace that helps you feel loved.
The thing is, God is showering us with little love notes all the time. But we get so busy we miss His messages. When we are intentional about practicing gratitude we open our eyes and see blessings we might be missing. By recognizing and expressing our thanks we get rewarded with all the feel good vibes that go hand in hand with gratitude.
4 | Serve Someone
Focusing less on ourselves, reaching out to others, and widening our circle of concern are the best ways to create more healing and connect with our inner-self. We’ve known about the power of connection and empathy for a long time, and science has confirmed that putting empathy and compassion into action is the foundation of our wellbeing and the path to our better selves.
When it comes to service, actions speak louder than words. We must act through love. The more we love, the greater our capacity to love becomes. The more love we give, the more love will come back to us. The more love we share, the more love we will have to give.
I’ve found that true acts of service share some important principles:
- Service should be given with a smile and with no expectation of a return.
- We don’t always see opportunities to serve, and so they are easy to miss.
- Service is seldom convenient.
- Most often, service happens when we are on our way to do something else.
- Service will eventually come back around.
Do a good turn daily. Pay it back. You reap what you sow. Remember the Golden Rule because what goes around comes around.
5 | Step Back and Pay Attention to Your Feelings
We are bombarded daily by messages that affect the way we feel about ourselves. Think about the way your brain is interpreting the signals from social media, entertainment, and the news. Do they send you warm fuzzies or do they lead you to doubt your worth?
It’s time to stop caring what others think. Practice placing more value in the opinion you have of you — who you are and who you are becoming. One of my favorite quotes is: “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” Pay attention to where your feelings of self-doubt or despair might be coming from and then choose a different source.
The first step is believing in the possibility that we can be someone better, and then follow our aspirations and continue taking small steps. That’s how we inspire change. We become virtuous by practicing virtue, empathetic by practicing empathy, grateful by practicing gratitude, and courageous by doing hard things.
Understanding God’s Love
Someone once asked me: “Why do I have to do what God wants me to do to be able to feel his love?” My initial reaction was, “God does love you! He always loves you!” But that didn’t provide an answer. There was truth to the point my friend was trying to make. It is harder to feel God’s love when I am making decisions based on what I want rather than following what He knows is best for me. The blaring question is, why doesn’t God give us what we ask for if he loves us so much?
I don’t pretend to know how Heavenly Father thinks or understand why He does what He does, but I do have faith and feel confident He loves each of us. He doesn’t withhold blessings or make life harder for us just because He can. His love for us is always of the utmost importance, even when, in our limited perspective, it may feel it is not the case.
The real question is — Do you trust Him? Do you have faith and believe in His love for you?
Faith is not about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.”
So what do you do if you don’t feel God’s love? I’ve found the key to understanding God’s love is to not allow pride, vanity, selfishness, or personal agendas to distort my ability to feel what is already there.
As we earnestly strive to understand His will and continue to believe and trust in His love for us, we will find our reward. Heavenly Father rewards those who seek Him with a sincere heart. Do not give up! Show Him that you love Him more than anything here on earth. Exercise your faith and walk the path He has chosen for you. It is not always the path of least resistance, but one in which we are promised growth and joy.