Have you ever wondered why loving someone is so hard? Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’re challenged with receiving love from someone?

I believe, oftentimes, our hearts are guarded as a result of past hurts and disappointments, therefore making it hard to love freely. We then filter our perspective of love through the lens of our own broken experiences, and that just doesn’t give love a fair shot, does it? We even use scripture to argue our point as to why we should guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:24 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. But as you take into consideration the surrounding verses, this particular verse is talking about guarding your heart from evil, not from love.

So, where does this leave us? What do we do now?

Well, since we are ALL created FOR love by the creator who IS love, there’s only one thing left to do….be “all in”. This is what the Bible says: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other….if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us….We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:10-12, 16. These verses sound like God is reminding us to be all in.

It’s interesting, however, that God never told us to trust people. Psalm 118:8 says “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people”. God told us to trust Him and to love people. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding”. And then John 13:34 says “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” We put our trust in God, and as people created in His image, we are to love each other. I’m sure it doesn’t feel good, anyway, when you’re trying to hold back from giving something that you were created to give. You were created to give love, and to be loved.

“Well Ted,” you may say, “that sounds good when it comes to loving random people, but what about in relationships?” I’m glad you asked. Here’s a question for you. How can you fully love anyone you’re in a relationship with if you don’t become vulnerable enough to even be hurt by them? And how can you ever fully receive love from anyone if you’re guarding yourself from them? Thus the need to be all in. If you don’t put your guard down and let anyone all the way in, the love you give and receive from them is circumstantial and circumstantial love isn’t love at all. True love is an action indicative of a decision to be vulnerable and “all in”. That’s how you truly give it and that’s how you truly get it.

One of the biggest ways to be “all in” is to fully receive forgiveness from God for all offenses so that you are constantly empowered to give that same forgiveness to others. One of my favorite scriptures in the bible is when Jesus forgives a woman who was known for sexual sin. This is what He says to her: “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47 (NLT). You can easily give God’s love and forgiveness away if you stay in a consistent state of receiving it from Him first.

Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t your ultimate source of love, God is. Because of this truth, you don’t hold people accountable for sustaining you through love. If you’re free from people, you’re free to love people, and you can be “all in” when you’re free.

So, let’s practice being “all in”every day. We can start at home with our spouses and our children and then extend it to our remaining family, our friends and with everyone.