~1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)~
If there is one thing that completely and utterly confuses the human mind, it is the concept of love. Most people look at being in “love” as something that is vital to their very existence and in a way, they are right. But, generally, we get it all wrong. Love for some is the act of checking on someone to make sure they are going to be able to focus their attention on you and only you. Some people have the mistaken idea that love is allowing someone’s neediness to suck the life out of them by trying to comply with their insane requests for time and attention, while others see love as merely a physical connection that has no other side but that of gratifying the flesh. But the idea is not to take from everyone and take from everyone until they have nothing left. As illustrated in God’s displays of love to us, the whole concept is to pour into one another what God has poured into our hearts with His expressions of caring, love and support. God’s love is unconditional, energizing, and life-giving. It isn’t like what we encounter when we try to love one another. At least, that hasn’t been in my experience.
I think many of us get caught in this notion that love is either going to be a kneejerk reaction to someone else’s kind word or deed and it never needs to go any deeper than that or it’s going to be this magical feeling that falls on us when we are exposed to something we haven’t (or simply believe that we haven’t) seen or felt before. It doesn’t even have to be a good thing, it can just be something that isn’t like the last experience we had. The newness of the interaction or the unfamiliarity of the attitude can sweep us into a false sense that maybe this is it. Generally, if it pulls us into behaviors that can potentially hurt someone else, it isn’t love. For example, if you find yourself smitten with someone who is constantly flirting with you or who goes out of their way to talk to you, you might start thinking that this person has something you need. After all, they are paying attention to you and it’s obvious that they have an appreciation for the wonderful qualities you possess. The only problem with them is that they are kind of, sort of in a relationship with someone else. You might or might not have known this when the flirting started, but in any case, it somehow becomes clear that they really aren’t available. But they continue to talk to you, they continue to act like they are interested in you, and they seem to be more interested in you than that other person. So, maybe they are just in a bad situation and need someone to rescue them from their mistake. Right? Nope…not at all. Maybe, they have spent their whole lives being mistaken and you are just the next stop on a long list of potential mistakes they are interested in making. Maybe it isn’t love they want at all, but the feeling a person gets when they think they might have found it.
Today especially, people don’t want to take the time to investigate whether or not what they are getting into has the necessary components of what love is truly made of. They want the initial high and then when the newness of the feeling wears off, they want to commiserate with others who can’t seem to get it together. I enjoy people-watching, but sometimes I get caught up in wanting what I’m seeing to be more than what it really is. When I find myself disappointed in or bored by what I’m seeing, I look at something else. Today’s relationships seem to be just like that. When we get tired of looking at what’s in front of us, we shift our perspective to something else entirely without stopping to take a closer look at what once fascinated us. It isn’t that the sight in front of us grew less attractive in and of itself, it’s that the illusion of what we once saw becomes painfully real and when the smoke clears we begin to see that it never really was what we thought it could be. In short, it really is what it is. If only we would look with God’s eyes, we would see that the person or situation in front of us is worthy of our devotion, they are more than likely worthy of our attention, they are probably also worthy of our support and of our love. If we once felt compelled to move toward this person, the only good reasons for discounting them or deceiving them into thinking that something about them wasn’t worth loving is if they were abusive to us in some way. I don’t advocate staying with someone who hurts you physically or emotionally or even psychologically. I find it funny, however; that more often than not those who aren’t being abused in any way tend to gravitate away from situations that require depth or true intimacy but will run headlong into a “relationship” that will almost assuredly bring them such abuse.
It is no wonder people have such a difficult time loving God. He is, in many ways, as intimidating to us as the perfect companion. He loves unconditionally. He supports us even when He knows we are making a mistake. He wants us to love Him. He has only our best interests in mind. Sometimes, His way isn’t so attractive to us, but it really is the healthiest thing for us. When we see these qualities in people, some of us tend to run away. It’s just too much to ask for someone to be honest, to be unaffected by temptation, to be devoted, to be even a little bit selfless, to appreciate what we have in our hearts. If we accept that from someone, then that means we have to offer up the same. We might actually have to look at someone in terms of what we can do to love them and not in terms of always asking what are they doing to love us or make us feel worthy. It’s too difficult not to be taken in by what someone or something else offers us as a means of playing to our egos, our sense of gratification, our self-serving nature. As it says in Romans, the greatest gift we could ever receive is love. Yet we treat it as though it were an ugly sweater that someone tried to give us in the middle of the summer. It would have been nice when we were freezing to death and we could have even overlooked the obvious unattractiveness it possessed. But when we’re in the market for minimum coverage, that sweater just isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s almost insulting to us that they would offer it up.
I’m not really in the market for a sweater, or for any item of clothing for that matter. I’m finding that the harder I try to find something that fits, the more trouble I have building any kind of wardrobe. I think I’d rather just wear the clothes that God gives me, you know, the full armor of God. It seems to be the only thing that makes sense these days. Until we get to a point where everything we do isn’t just about us and about our need for gratification, we will never be truly happy in what we call “love.” For those of us who have figured this out, the world is a very lonely place in terms of our relationships with people. But it’s okay. God really is with us and He really does love us THAT much. When we finally do find that one other person who gets it, it will be worth all of the stupid little lessons we’ve had to learn to get there.
This thing called love, I just can’t handle it
This thing called love, I must get around to it
I ain’t ready for this crazy little thing called love…