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On Love...

10/20/2008 11:58 AM - Permalink

The truest form of love is not a feeling, though a feeling almost certainly accompanies it.  The truest form of love is a gift of yourself -- a promise -- from one person to another, and the lifestyle by which that promise is honored... the lifestyle by which that promise is lived out.
Jay Baldwin

When I was little, I observed great love at work, and as a result, I wanted desperately to be good at loving.  I mean, I HAD to be.  Not had to as in "I had to see that movie."  But as in "my very life depends on it" -- sort of like the feeling you get when you're swimming deep in a pool, and you have held yourself under water too long and you HAVE to have that next breath, so with all your might you swim for it.  That's kinda what I'm talking about.  So how do you become good at something?  Usually you read an instruction manual, or try figure out how to do it yourself (trial and error)... or you find someone that is already good at it, and imitate them.  In the case of love, the only (correct) instruction manual is God's word, life itself is the process of trial and error, and the best example of it to imitate was Jesus.  (God also gave me a great built-in example -- my mom.) 

I asked my mother one time what she considered to be the greatest form of love a husband can provide for his wife.  "Serve her."  Her answer was very strange, and I didn't at the time understand it.  I'm glad I listened though, because it's one of the greatest pieces of advice a husband can practice for the good of his wife, and the good of himself. 

[Yes, that's right, I said good of himself.  "Why?" you might ask.  I'll tell you -- because it's easy to hate or get mad, angry, upset, and selfish.  Those are all natural things our human nature does on its own anyway.  So giving in to those feelings doesn't make you better than anyone else; it just makes you normal.  But its HARD to love... to truly love.  It makes me laugh when people are all up in arms and wanting to beat someone down when they get angry.  Why would you want to do that?  I mean, I've been in situations myself where I've wanted to hit someone over something... but seriously.  What would the reason be?  I'd hurt afterwards.  They'd hurt.  They'd get what they deserved in my opinion, but I'm sure there have been times that I deserved worse, yet God gave me mercy.  But more than that.  What am I trying to prove?  Am I trying to prove that I'm bigger or better than you?  That I can beat you down?  That you better not do that or I'll get to hitting you?  What purpose does that serve?  What problem does that solve?  It's EASY to overreact and to get angry... to lose control of yourself and your emotions.  I think it's a whole lot more impressive when you can keep your emotions (and your temper) in check, under control, and govern over them.  You have emotion because God has emotion, and you were created in His image and likeness.  But they are gifts given to enhance your life; not control it.]

My mother's answer was... "Serve her."  I thought of Jesus.  How even when we DIDN'T deserve it, the Holy knee of the only begotten Son of God bowed at the foot of an unworthy and unholy man to wash his feet.  Jesus... who on the cross... those that were murdering Him, without a reason, spat in His face and called Him all kinds of names... slinging at Him all sorts of vulgarities... yet His only reaction was "Father, forgive them."

That's what I mean by my quote.  Love -- giving someone the power to destroy you, trusting them not to, but letting them if that's what they choose.  Maybe not even going through the motions, but just the idea that you make yourself WILLING.  When you don't mind dying for someone, it makes the idea of living for them very easy.  :)  And of course, you lose yourself in it.  There's a part of you that may die the day you REALLY decide to love.  But the part of the other person that you get back, if they choose to also love you, is so much more than worth it... sooo much more than wonderful.  :)

And you know what?  I hear a lot of people talking about "this person or that person doesn't deserve me to treat them in a loving and kind manner."  Well you know... if we all got what we deserved, none of us would ever get anything good, yourself included.  So sit down, and for heaven's sakes, quit whining!  Love is displayed in this: "that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  There's a picture here, if Christ is our example, that we cannot miss.  When they're causing trouble... when they're being rude... when they're making you angry... THAT is when it really matters.  When they don't deserve it... but you love them anyway.  Loving someone only when they love you is EASY.  The devil can probably do that if he tried!  Loving someone that hates you -- that's hard....  loving someone that desires to kill you.... that's hard.  There are days I know I don't deserve the love of the Father.  I mean, I know none of us do any day... but some days you feel closer to Him than others, you know... and there are other times you feel His love is so distant.  But that's what I love about God. Even if He FEELS distant, that doesn't much matter, because love isn't a feeling.  It's a promise... a commitment, and the way by which that commitment and promise is lived out.  That means that even if He doesn't WANT to do it, He will... because it's more about His promise than what I'm doing or if I deserve it anyway.  And for husbands and wives, shouldn't that be their attitude toward each other anyway?  Maybe I don't deserve love today, but you'll love me anyway.  Why?  Because you said you would, and maybe the reason I'm being a jerk today is because I'm feeling really hurt and lonely or isolated, and I might just be COUNTING on your love to pull me through this and set me free. 

So let me ask you this question:  When is the last time YOUR love set someone free?  When is the next day you PLAN on letting your love set someone free?  Isn't that up to you, anyway?  So why can't that day be today?


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