The Gift of Imperfection – Brene’ Brown, Phd.
In the book “The Gift of Imperfection” Brene’ Brown talks about love from an adult standpoint. She mentions “we need and want love, but we don’t spend much time talking about what it means.” She writes,
“Think about it. You might say “I love you” every day, but when’s the last time you had a serious conversation with someone about the meaning of love? In this way, love is the mirror image of shame. We desperately don’t want to experience shame, and we’re not willing to talk about it. Yet the only way to resolve shame is to talk about it. Maybe we’re afraid of topics like love and shame. Most of us like safety, certainty, and clarity. Shame and love are grounded in vulnerability and tenderness.”
Can you remember ever being afraid to tell someone you loved them?
Has anyone ever told you “I don’t love you anymore?
Communicating with other people when we feel unworthy or unloved can be daunting. Especially if we feel rejected or unwanted. It took a lot of studying and praying to realize that God truly loves me. Since I have faith He loves me, I can trust Him. I can believe He holds my future (including all my relationships) in the palm of His hand. Due to the confidence that God loves me, I find myself stronger and less intimidated when I face hurtful situations.
How can we confidentially communicate with others about love?
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
According to Brene’ Brown, “Belonging is another topic that is essential to the human experience but rarely discussed. One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and, in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
Peer pressure. It doesn’t just happen to teenagers and kids. It is real in the lives of adults. What are we experiencing right now in our country? Pressure to conform. What does the Bible say?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 2:2
Love and belonging will always be uncertain. Even though connection and relationship are the most critical components of life, we simply cannot accurately measure them.
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.
Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
If you look at the definition of love and think about what it means in terms of self-love, it’s very specific. Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves. This is a tall order given how hard most of us are on ourselves. I know I can talk to myself in ways that I would never consider talking to another person. How many of us are quick to think, God, I’m so stupid and Man, I’m such an idiot? Just like calling someone we love stupid or an idiot would be incongruent with practicing love, talking like that to ourselves takes a serious toll on our self-love.
Given how difficult it is to cultivate self-acceptance in our perfectionist society and how our need for belonging is hardwired, it’s no wonder that we spend our lives trying to fit in and gain approval. It’s so much easier to say, “I’ll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I’m part of this.” From gangs to gossiping, we’ll do what it takes to fit in if we believe it will meet our need for belonging. But it doesn’t. We can only belong when we offer our most authentic selves and when we’re embraced for who we are.
The Bible defines love in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
To love others you must love yourself.
30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a]31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12
Friends, love and belonging begins with our relationship with our heavenly Father. When we know and understand His love and our purpose—love becomes our most precious gift.