What is love? Now that is a loaded question. I can only imagine the endless answers I would receive, as our stories, understanding and experiences are so broad and deep. Hell, love as we know it has started many a war or night club brawl. Many of us would wax eloquence and poetry about love. However, in all of our uniqueness and varied backgrounds, there is truly only one answer to the Love question.
This writing is not an exhaustive work on what love is. Heaven forbid! It is simply my pondering on our expectations in love when it hasn’t shown itself to exist.
Where to begin?
Well, at the beginning. God is Love. So, get over asking other people to love you the way you want or need to be loved. Ask God!
In our wounded humanity we are far too selfish to assess the needs and wants of other’s inside a love relationship. Why? Because we are consumed with looking out for number one, which is me, myself, and I (what I call the anthem of the lonely) to give a care about what someone else wants or needs.
Who is my love?
We yearn and sometimes beg (yes, I’ve begged) for true love, but are often asking in vain. We are engaged in communion with the wrong ‘lover’. We are born and learn to love with our flawed human knowledge and understanding of it from our personal knowledge and experiences. What we have seen and been taught or not, we often emulate inside of a love relationship. That love is kind and patient stuff, well let’s just say we will only be kind and patient for so long before we are in the wind. And then it’s bye-bye birdie.
Prayerfully, if you are in a courtship or marriage, it is with someone who knows love (God is Love), and therefore they are able to love you beyond themselves. Quite honestly, we should all be in this courtship with self and love long before we enter into an intimate relationship with another. What a burden we place on others when we need them for all of our love. I was once the queen of such bondage, but that is indeed for another post.
The Other Side
The other side of the love equation is, ‘we’ get to do the ‘loving’ by ourselves. It sounds romantic and faithful (to ourselves and our partners). But, once the romance fades and the sizzle is no longer hot, we begin to feel short changed and most definitely we become exhausted in the loving process. Loving in our own strength is a lot of damn work. It’s a process we learn to hate. As a matter of fact, it is just beyond our ability to love as Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 13. Proof of this is in divorce courtrooms all across America. Somehow we started off in ‘love’ (well some of us) and then we end up in battles over air conditioning units (yes, I actually had that battle in court), pets, toasters, visitation over children we created ‘in-love’, and money. A little bit and a lot. By the end, we are in need of a love greater than our own to sustain any relationship. Romantic or otherwise.
Good Fruit is Ripe and It’s Sweet
Stop! Yes, stop expecting love from anyone who does not know love! It’s just unfair. When you think about it, it’s really kind of silly! Would you ask a lion for a hug or a snake for a kiss (well, I have asked many a snake for a kiss and let me just say I was bitten each time. But again, that’s for another post.)? Of course not! However, that is exactly what many of us do when we ask someone to love us when they do not know love. We set them, ourselves and our relationship up for failure and pain. Oh, and that would include asking those of us who are in the body of Christ for love. Yes, sorry to say, but to be covered by Him does not mean I bear his fruit in my life. Bearing His fruit is my choice. It is not magic. What is this fruit? Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 13:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Did you note that I underlined always. This is God’s love, people. It is always on! None of us are all of these things and never always. We need love that we would allow His fruit to fall into the lives of others and sweeten our relationships. There is simply a limit to our human love. There is a period at the end of my love. It stops. We each have a tipping point. And when enough is enough it’s bye-bye birdie.
We try to make love so many other things. We confuse love with lust, possessions, money, or emotional feelings. However, love is none of these. It is defined in the verses above. And the Word of God further instructs us in 1 John 4:8 (NIV) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Ouch! We often believe we are so full of love, yet we he hate our in-laws. We can’t stand our bosses. We don’t forgive. We have attitudes, and we justify that foolishness, because we are loving from our flawed humanity. And here’s one for you; why be in a relationship with one who does not know God, if you do? That is an enemy set up. All day! And, if we profess to know Him and we are not bearing fruit, we must ask ourselves this question, “Do I really know God”? Do you know him when you’re hating? Do you know him when you’re cursing? Do you really know God?!
No more expectations
Take your heart off your sleeve as hard as that may be in this moment, and wipe the tears from your eyes. I did! If someone is bearing fruit in your life then you are receiving God’s love. Unfortunately, there will still be mess ups. Expect the mess. God does! After all, we are all imperfect men, but love!
If that woman is bearing no fruit, she will love you as hard as she can. She too will mess up and you should expect it. God does. She may ask your forgiveness or not. She may understand her challenges or not. She may continue in her behavior or not. Just pray because we have all been this person. We’ve all been selfish and looked out for number one at some point in our lives. We are born and trained for it, but love.
If someone does not know love, we must refrain from asking for it, telling them how to give it or expecting it to show up. Again, we are asking a lion for a hug or a snake for a kiss. What a man (or woman) does not know, he simply cannot give. It’s just strange fruit to him.