"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest,
I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now."
What a high call. But what a TRUE statement. God commands that we love him first, foremost, and best. Our relationship with him should be our first concern...because when it is, we are free to love others--with their imperfections and issues. If we are striving to love others through our own power, it can only go so far because we are limited creatures. We will run out of steam, become too tired, and naturally want to focus on ourselves and our own problems. However, when we encounter Christ's unconditional love and are renewed by his grace and comforted in our problems by his mercy, we are then able to face the world (and our loved ones) with renewed eyes. We are able to love them for THEM and not for what they can do for us. It is true freedom. True freedom from Christ.
So how does one do this? It takes time and a commitment to your relationship with Christ. Just like an earthly relationship, you must spend time with the other person, and you must be willing to spend time with the Lord--reading his word (learning more about Him) and praying. It's not meant to be mechanical and forced, but rather enjoyed--just like coffee with a friend. It may seem odd at first, but the more often you do it, the more natural it becomes. (See my previous posting: duty, desire and delight).
God desires that we would have powerful, meaningful and connected relationships with others on this earth. He made us to desire that and it is a good thing. Relationships with others is often how we see more of him--through the care of a friend and spending time with them. These relationships are meant to mirror his love to us--and that is a beautiful thing!