One of my most favorite revered public figures is Mohandas Gandhi–who some called Mahatma (The Great Soul) Gandhi. To this day, Gandhi is an example (for many) of unconditional love and peace. Many of us do not know that before Mohandas was made into Mahatma by the people, he had a bit of a pride and anger issue and was a bit prejudice himself toward women, Black Africans, and lower caste Hindus. Blasphemy?
Well he was human, and circumstances required him to develop compassion and empathy. He later dedicated himself to practicing humility, controlling his anger, and sacrificing his life for the greater whole. And even then, one might say he was being self-righteous.
When we think of other great heroes of love like Agnes Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) or Nelson Mandela (Madiba) we see them as models of kindness, gentleness, and patience. We forget that before we knew them as such they were young and probably self-seeking, yet circumstances taught them how to love.
Personally, we are inspired by the greatest historical demonstration of love and that is the life and death of a man called Yeshua, who we call Jesus today. Hebrews 5:9 says that although he was special, Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered. Without exaggerating these words too much, I’d like to merely emphasize that Jesus learned whatever was necessary for the sake of demonstrating love through circumstance.
My point is none of us is without attributes that sometimes prevent us from walking in complete love. Love is being worked out in our hearts daily, yearly. Every relationship, significant or otherwise, is an opportunity to practice love and to understand all of its nuances.
I sometimes fear that as the founder of this social enterprise, I am expected to have mastered love or that I may come across as having mastered it. Well, this couldn’t be any further from the truth! I am learning. Life is teaching me. Friends are loving me.God is helping me. And through this, I make the necessary adjustments to not only be the best version of myself, but to be one whose heart is free to love–even a foe.
And these are the motivations: to maintain a pure heart, to extend grace with wisdom, and to guard ourselves from becoming what we despise.
Of the three examples given, only one did not believe in God (Mandela). Gandhi believed in theology and spirituality and Agnes was Catholic. I do not know the details of their journey to love, but I am pretty sure it took much self-discipline. However, there is One whose sole purpose and mission was to teach us to love one another as we have been loved by God. And I find the more time I spend learning about Love Godself, the easier it is for me to exemplify the attributes that do not come from me. Also, the more grace I experience when I am not in a loving place, the more grace I cannot help but give to others. Love is the Greatest Teacher.
As we go into a new year remember that we are all flawed and we are all learning. It’s a lifelong process, but with God’s help we can see changes in ourselves and in our relationships.
Tayo “Purchased” Banjo
Founder and CEO of Lovekulture.