What Love Is (Because the World Is Tricky)

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Today I walked into church, late as usual and scooted into the seat next to my friend. Everyone was singing and she had her eyes closed but I could see that she was crying. “What’s the matter?” I whispered as I put my arm around her.

“It’s Valentine’s Day,” she shook her head and then she cried some more because she really wants a man, particularly a man who loves Jesus, but she hasn’t found one. Yet.

“Oh, yeah.” I nodded. “It’s such a crappy day.”  We both agreed. And then I got mad at whoever made up Valentine’s Day. Why did they have to go and do that? My momma told me back in my single days that Valentine’s Day was mostly a big marketing scheme. The stores hype it up because they can make a lot of money off of cards and chocolate. I think she was trying to make me feel better, and that tidbit of information never seemed to help but I can see it a little more clearly now. Valentine’s Day is pretty ridiculous unless, of course, you’re happily in love.

So, I prayed for my friend and just held her for a bit. She said, “I was just asking Jesus to help me feel His love and here you came and that’s how I felt it.”

That’s because Jesus set up the world in such a way that He actually depends on human beings to reach out and be His love to another person in a tangible way. Which seems a little jacked up, sometimes, seeing as so much of the time we fail at that. We don’t want to be socially awkward or we’re feeling a little introspective and so we don’t want to muster up the energy it takes to give something of ourselves to somebody else.

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The world is a tricky place. Yesterday, I was standing in a department store, innocently buying my kid some new sweat pants and looked over to see a Calvin Klein ad. A guy without a shirt on was holding this girl without much clothes on and they seemed to fit so perfectly together and they were clearly passionately in love and everything was always bliss.

I stood there going, “I don’t have those thighs. I don’t have that chest. I don’t have that stomach. In fact, I have a muffin top. Therefore, I cannot have a fulfilling romantic life.” I’m not kidding. I actually came to that conclusion. And then I was like, “Wait. What the heck? Those people aren’t even in a relationship! What I have with Brent is real and it’s sweet and there are hard parts about living with an actual person everyday but we actually love each other and he thinks I’m beautiful and and I’m pretty crazy about him and so why in the world am I even comparing myself to two folks on a Calvin Klein ad?” 

It’s easy to get confused about what love actually is.

Brent and I watched this dumb chic flick the other night. The girl in the story went from one relationship to the next to the next because she was addicted to that romantic, butterflies-in-the tummy feeling of being constantly wanted and desired. As soon as the relationship got hard, she was gone.

I have a confession. Sometimes I miss that twitterpated feeling. Sometimes I look at Brent and think, “Remember when I used to blush when he looked at me from across the room? What happened to that feeling?”

And then I watch the movies or read the cover of the magazines and I start to wonder the “what if’s.” 

You know what I have to do when I start to wonder those things? I have to sit myself down and spell it out to myself.  I have to say things like, “That’s weird that we don’t get those butterflies anymore. Yeah, I miss the mystery. But, now we have love. Real, genuine love because we actually know each other and we keep waking up and choosing each other and we keep laying down our life for each other.”

I have to tell myself some true things. And yeah, I have to resist the devil.

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The world aches for love but doesn’t understand what it is. So, we sell ourselves short. We fall for the temporary fulfillment that seduction and sexual entanglement bring. This sort of thing sells books and movies but it’s always all about you, how it makes you feel, regardless of who all it destroys.

Our society has this bizarre infatuation with using another person’s emotions and even body to meet our own hungry agenda and it’s all so fleeting and it’s wrong and  it stands in stark contrast to sincere love.

Love is not self-seeking. Love is not temporary.  Love was always meant to heal our starved for affection hearts. Love is what holds people and relationships together for a lifetime.

Jesus came to demonstrate for us, what love actually is.

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.

Love never fails. (See 1 Corinthians 13)

Today I pray for my single friends and my friends in difficult marriages and for myself and for the whole aching world.
Jesus, let us know Your love. And let us be Your love here. The best that the world has to offer isn’t really love at all. So, in a world that tricks us, help us to discern the real thing.

2 Comments

  1. by Gretchen Potma on February 14, 2016  7:33 pm Reply

    Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday, single or married. It's a holiday that can easirly be redeemed as a day to share God's love. We always make heart-shaped cookies to share with neighbors and friends and give Valentines to people who aren't expecting anything. When the kids were smaller we'd spend the week before making them. I'd hide red construction paper hearts with Bible verses about God's love for them to find. Some years we'd have a Valentines Day party with my daughter's friends. We always have a family Valentine's breakfast with heart-shaped pancakes and decorations. I'd challenge single women to make it into a day to reach out and married women to not make it into another expectation that their husbands can fail to meet.

    • by Maggie on February 15, 2016  11:53 am Reply

      Gretchen, you rock. Thanks for sharing this. I love how you reach out. You know what I love? The day AFTER whenever everything goes on sale! Thinking about stocking up some pretty pink and red decorations for next year. Bless you!!!

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