Thursday, October 14, 2010

A different kind of love

“How do you spell love? True love is spelled G-I-V-E. It is not based on what you get, but rooted in what you can give the other person.”
-Josh McDowell

A warning now that this post may get very personal and mushy. I just feel like I connect with God the best when I am honest about what I feel and think. Often when I start writing (lately) I have not been sure where I was going until God got me there. I have many things I can and should write about, but this should be about learning and encouragement (even when disguised as defeat) and starting with what I’m going through and feel is the best place. Sorry in advance if it goes a strange way. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn.

I have mentioned in the past that I have a tendency to believe in absolutes. That there is one way for things to be. I guess you could call it looking at life as black and white (typical blue trait for all of you who know about personality traits, aka perfectionist control freaks as I like to refer to us). I know logically that is not how it works, not how people work, life works, relationships work, etc, but I realize I still have a tendency to think that way.

Take love for instance, it’s easy to believe there is only one way to love someone. That, as I am finding out is just not true. Our culture is obsessed with love. Have you ever been excited noticing, while being in a relationship, that most songs are about either being in love or wanting love? Have you ever been tortured, while being single, noticing that most songs are about being in love or wanting love? Love and its pursuits are a big deal to us. We go to great lengths to be a part of it.

I promised you some personal stuff so here it is (you guys are so greedy, haha). I have always wanted to fall in love (see my 1st post for more info if you are a bit lost on what I’m going through or my view on what I thought being in love would be like). I want a connection to someone, I want to share something special. But I realize I haven’t so much been looking for real, authentic love so much as the feeling of love.

Problem is, our culture wants to feel love, not necessarily live that love. I’m not calling that wrong, I’m just saying the two are not necessarily mutually inclusive. Feeling in love is great. I know I only was a part of it for a short time, but I appreciate it for what it was and will never be sorry for the experience, no matter what happens from here. But I’m just not sure if that kind of love is the kind that grows someone as a person. Again, I am not saying there is anything wrong with it, I just fear that maybe it ranks on the more shallow side of life’s experiences. Now don’t freak out on me because I used the dreaded shallow word.

To explain, consider most choices and decisions that are made based on feelings alone. They don’t tend to have much depth. I, again, don’t mean that to be hurtful. I have mentioned repeatedly how much of an emotional person I am and my tendency to let my feelings rule me. Feelings are very important; I just don’t think they are the foundation for true, all encompassing love. They are a part of it, but not the base of it.

Because I am a very emotional person, I have had a lot of feelings to work my way through. In attempting to do so, I have been wondering if I had been(and to be honest still am) IN love with that person or just love him. Did I just have strong feelings for him because he’s the kind of guy I wanted or because I wanted him, that particular guy? I even wonder if I’m capable of truly loving someone at all (it’s no secret I don’t have the highest self esteem). I mean how can you truly know you have experienced love until you actually experience it (I know, confusing right?).

As usual, God is teaching me things even when I’m not ready to learn them. We are all struggling with something in our lives. For some of us, that struggle is debilitating and then some of us are just in between those times, but we all have them. It is obviously no secret what I want if you are reading my posts. I want things to go back to the way they were. I want to be with the person I care about. I have been shying away from directly mentioning it here for many reasons. Although I don’t know how many people actually read this other than my close family and friends who know my situation, this is a public forum and I do occasionally remind people about these posts on various social networks. I don’t want anything said to be misconstrued or offensive. But I don’t see any reason not to be truthful. I have certainly revealed much more personal feelings in past posts than admitting I am in love with someone. There I said it (so sue me…but really, please don’t, it’s just not nice).

Understanding that we all struggle leads me back to where I was going, a different kind of love. Like I said, it isn’t really a secret what I want (for me), but I realize, knowing he is struggling with something he needs to let God use to grow him, I want something more. I want him to grow at any cost, even if that cost is not being with me if I’m not the person that would help him do so.

True love, a Jesus kind of love, isn’t about what we want, not about what makes us happy. It’s about growing our character into Christ’s character. Christ showed us about true love with the way He loved us. It’s about surrender. There’s a reason people quote 1 Cor 13 on their wedding day (well some because it’s pretty or they want a pipe dream of perfection without work) because this is what God tells us true love is. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never looses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

I feel like God gave me such a blessing in showing me that this struggle isn’t just about my need to grow but for that need by others in my life. That maybe I can start learning to love in a different way, in a more Christ-like way.

I am extremely encouraged right now, no matter what; I know I am capable of this love, of real love. Did I experience it for real when I was actually in that relationship, who knows? Unfortunately I spent a lot of time in the daydream that was the feelings-induced love haze. But no matter what happens from here, I know that there are many ways to love. We can love with just our feelings (we all do in some ways, feelings are a good thing) or we can expand that love with the power of Christ. We can pray and strive to love others (romantically or not) patiently, kindly, unselfishly, and forgivingly. We all will search throughout our time here on earth for that kind of love, but let’s not forget that God is endowing us the power to be that kind of love to each other.

What are your thoughts about love? Do you love patiently, kindly, unselfishly, and forgivingly? How can you pray for God to show you ways to start loving on a different level? 

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