I rediscovered an old blog today that I used to write on. I re-read one of the entries and it impacted me profoundly. I remember writing it, but it feels so long ago. Only two years ago, but it helps to reflect and remember these things as the new year begins. This is a very secret place of my heart and vulnerable post for me to be sharing. In bold confidence, I feel it is time to share it here.
Monday, November 21, 2011
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now as it has been a topic on my heart for many months.
Love can be perceived and expressed in a myriad of ways. If you wanted to get real psychological about it, you could say that love can be based on someones past, life experiences, and how they perceive and handle those experiences. I don’t want to get into the psychology behind it, but I will dig into a few things that may come across as psychological. However, that is not my intent – by my intent is to express the reality of the complex human heart and mind and it’s perception and foundation of love.
Love can be defined in multiple ways. Some say it’s a noun, others a verb, others a feeling or emotion, etc. – the list can go on. Simply googling the term ‘define: love’ brings up two definitions in the form of a noun and verb: 1) “An intense feeling of deep affection” and 2) “Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone)”. With synonyms of the noun being: “affection – fondness – darling – passion” and of the verb: “like – be fond of – fancy – adore”. Dictionary.com has 20+ definitions. Merriam Webster online has 9+ for the noun and 4+ for the verb. Love is seen as such a complex emotion, noun, or verb – that there are books upon books upon stories upon articles upon websites written about it. Everyone has a different slant on it and how they write about it. Look, I’m even writing on it today!
My purpose for this writing is not to define love, but rather to get to the bottom of where the foundation is and what we’re basing love on. I’m still in the “processing” process in my head, heart, and spirit on this matter (and I’ll likely continue processing on this for the rest of my humanoid life). I understand there are different expressions of love. Parents, siblings, extended family, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, acquaintances, strangers, etc. and different interactions and expressings between each of these.
Every relationship has unique expressions of love.
Where is the foundation? What does yours or my love stem from? Where should it come from?
I’ve often wondered about this as I observe different interactions and even as I observe the expression of my own love for someone. I’ve seen different responses to love, different expressions of it, different actions and reactions, different perceptions, etc. And as I take all of these in, I consider the people involved and where they have come from (or may have come from if I don’t directly know them), I line them up with the standard of the bible and even my own perceptions. I weigh carefully and soak all of it in – the expressions, reactions, the people, Jesus, all of it…
I often consider and play out different scenarios on love based on what I’ve observed and soaked in within my short and small life. Some based on strangers, others on friends and family, but the main one I play out is with spousal relationships. Particularly because marriage is such a sacred thing to me as it so closely symbolizes our relationship with Jesus and was the first set relationship between humans established by God.
Each new encounter with different people can often bring in something new about my view on love. Last month, I met and interacted with a few people who have intellectual disabilities – along with some seemingly “normal” (by society’s standards) people around them. I had the opportunity to share in some brief but sweet moments and conversations with them. I soaked them in, the “normal” volunteers I worked with that day, and the people with intellectual disabilities. Each person having unique qualities and expressions of themselves. I worked with a few middle school boys who HAD to be there and saw their interactions with each other and those with the disabilities. I worked with people who willingly volunteered their time that day and saw the difference in how they interacted. I even befriended a girl who was likely about 6 years old. Each person (including me) never suspecting my subconscious awareness or soaking in of their “ways”. The immediate impact came from those I interacted with who have the intellectual disabilities. Their raw nature and expressions were just amazing to see. One man gave me a hug within 2 seconds of meeting me, another greeted me by name and introduced himself from 2 yards away, and another simply walked straight to me, shook my hand and started a conversation. The apparent lack of fear when it came to interacting with another person was incredible. They have had to overcome much more than I have and in my fear I wouldn’t dream of walking up to stranger and shaking their hand, much less embracing them. Yet these were their individual expressions. Maybe you wouldn’t classify them as love, but there’s a point to my tangents in here somewhere…
The main point of the above being that love transcends intellect. It is not limited to a person’s brain, knowledge, wisdom, perception, or notion. A person has the capacity to love, even if they have no clue what they are doing or are incapable of communicating.
Love transcends the physical. You do not have to touch someone to love them. It is an expression of love, yes: high fives, hugs, taps, pokes, kisses, etc. But you can love someone miles away and without even seeing them.
Love transcends verbal (and language) communication. Someone can be mute and still express love. You can sit in complete silence and still love. You can be from two different cultures and not know a single word the other person is saying and still love. You don’t have to say “I love you” to love someone.
One of the scenarios I was mentioning before as far as spousal relationships go goes something like this. If I were to get married to the love of my life, and within only a few months he got sick and could never walk or hold me again – what would I do? I often want to ask soooo many women this question and have them reflect on it…
The one I even like to reflect on the most goes something more like this. If he were to be in a vegetative state or to lose all memory and normal function, be it because of an accident or other – would I still adore him regardless?
If he were to lose all his hair or become severely unattractive – where would we be?
If any response or any reaction to these scenarios is contrary to love or considers leaving him, then I am basing my entire marriage on ME, myself, and I. Then it is not a true love marriage, in my opinion. Maybe I’m too extreme, but I can’t see this any other way. I will love the man I marry regardless if he can’t take care of me anymore; regardless if he is sick or cannot walk; regardless if he starts going bald, getting fat or ugly by physical appearance; if he cannot speak, becomes a vegetable, loses all memory and function. My love for him should not change based on these external conditions. If it does – it is not love, but is just an extension of my own wants, needs, and selfishness. Then I just got married for my self and I’d suck the life out of that poor man. I don’t want to do this. So many people do this though – to their shame. We all have this tendency and downfall, that’s why we cannot fully love from ourselves.
To me, love is not a noun… nor is it a verb… it is a being. God is love (of course, right – ‘don’t we all know this?!’). His fullest expression of love came in the form of His only Son, that He sent to die for us to show the world what True Love looked like. We obviously had no comprehension or understanding of what it really was, and so often still have no understanding of it.
So then, if the expression of love from God was His Son bruised, beaten, and painfully hung on a Cross. What doesn’t that mean for our foundation of love?
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
– 1 John 3:16
Our foundation should be based upon the very Being who showed us love in the first place, God. Our expression should reflect then, the same as that of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t it? Maybe that’s a little too extreme though, huh? WRONG. We can daily express this same love, momently dying for another – giving up ourselves and our own rights, letting go of our selfishness and living up to the standard God outlines for us in the bible – but we can only live up to it through Jesus, there is no other way.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
If love never fails, why is there divorce? That’s a question I have yet to articulate the answer to – except that more than likely we are basing our love on the wrong things. Maybe stuff like “mutual affection” “sexual desire” “desperation to be married” “falling in love”, I really don’t know the full answer to every single divorce, nor will I pretend to understand or say that I know. I do believe that very few couples base marriages and love on Jesus Christ anymore, and that’s where we humans are screwing up – we aren’t reflecting or soaking/abiding in the very Man who embodies True Love.
My opinion is that 99% of people get married for selfish reasons. I’m not saying I won’t, because I am a selfish being. I just really want the Lord to be the center of it so that He can work through my marriage despite my selfishness. We get these elaborate ideas of marriage that we base off of our own ideas, desires, movies, “feelings”, books, “needs”, insecurities, etc. rather than basing it off of the very relationship it’s supposed to reflect in earthly form.
Most people may disagree with me or even assume I take the wonder, fantasy, and romance out of a man and wife relationship. But on the contrary, I’m incredibly romantic. I’m just a realistic lover because I think love has to go beyond “feeling”. I follow the Author of love and the One who created romance.
There are so many other verses in the bible that I can pull in about the foundation of love, but this is already very long blog post. I know this is kind of spastic writing, but it’s how it came out so hopefully it makes sense.
This foundation of love goes beyond just our marriages, but should branch into every area of our hearts and lives to reflect to every person we come in contact with.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
– Jesus (John 15:12-13)
What do you base your love on? If you’re married, where is your foundation of love? If it does not have a foundation of Jesus Christ – then repent and give it up to Him. Let Him show you True Love. That’s where I want to be, right in True Love’s arms.