The Greatest Love of All

Yesterday I spoke briefly of unconditional positive regard, which is a counseling theory and practice from Carl Rogers.

People with a stronger sense of self-worth are also more confident and motivated to pursue their goals and to work toward self-actualization because they believe that they are capable of accomplishing their goals.

This secular practice has deep spiritual meaning. How we face the world and interact with each other begins with a spiritual understanding of God’s love for you. In Acts 2:14,22-33, Peter recaps the story of Jesus, reminding those who were with Jesus before His death, death and resurrection, and the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came as the comforter as promised by Jesus. He also shares the message of David, who foretold the coming of Jesus.

You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”
(King David)

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.” (Peter)

How has God shown you His presence? How has the Holy Spirit reminded you of scripture, events, and the pouring of His spirit into your life and circumstances?

I read the passage and imagine Peter trying to convey through evidence, experiences, and the gifts that God gave him the love of Jesus unconditionally. He simply shared his life from a place of personal positive regard. He knew deeply what Jesus had done for Him and how Jesus loved Him. He looked out towards the people and expressed the same regard.

As the Spirit works, we refine and give roots to the work through the use of scripture. His Word is living and active in our lives. Even if your values and faith are different, we can all agree that self-worth and love for others are foundational truths to living in community.

Last night I watched a movie about Whitney Houston. No matter how talented she was and all the awards she received, the film displayed her struggling with feelings and thoughts that she was not enough. The core of unconditional positive regard starts in the home, and then as we become adults, others are invited into our messaging–friends, partners, and work associates. I grew up with Whitney in the 80s. Her voice is etched in my memory, and I admire her work. Hearing her sing takes me back to my younger years of singing. One of my favorite songs to sing in competitions was “The Greatest Love of All.” I can close my eyes and find myself on the stage singing my heart out and using the gifts God gave me. Many famous artists have led tragic lives, but this one throws me and upsets me. I had to wait to watch the movie because I knew that it would pull at my emotions in such a way that it would cause me to remember my childhood and the passing of Whitney. I wish she had understood that she was enough despite the negative tabloids and press during her struggles. All the music we lost because of her early death blows my mind. Yet, I’m reminded that we live in the hope of what is and our eternal hope, not what could have been.

Where are you today? What are the words spoken inside your mind about who you are, and how do you see others around you? Breathe in and speak to your soul the love of Jesus and unconditional positive regard. Breathe out that love to those around you.

“…it plays a role in nurturing that individual’s growth. It conveys to people that they will be granted grace and acceptance, even in the face of their mistakes and failures. The result, Rogers believed, was that people then become able to be their authentic selves and reveal their deepest fears or secrets, while being met with acceptance. It is a hallmark of healthy relationships, including those between romantic partners, friends, and family members. Unconditional positive regard allows people the comfort and freedom to safely be themselves without fearing rejection or the loss of other people’s love.” (Kendra Cherry, 2023)

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