What is Love?
- The Prison of Love
- Love stinks
- I Hate Myself for Loving You.
I've known individuals who grew up in the church and have since rejected God, and in every case it is clear that their church failed to express God's love. Interestingly, even having forsaken the notion of God's existence, most of these individuals still seek love. What they don't realize is that they are still seeking God, because God is love.
So why is love so elusive? It is because in order to find it, you must meet God. In order to apprehend love, it's nuances, it's power, it's permanence, it's strength which is stronger than death, it's determination, it's boldness, it's jealousy, it's righteous indignation… in order to understand love, you must meet God, for God is love.
Another outward manifestation of our built-in God-seeking mechanism is found in that we often expect others to be God, while thinking that we just want them to love us. It comes out differently in men versus women. A weak and silly man (who is really still a boy) asks his woman to provide all his needs for personal fulfillment and self-identity. He depends on her for those things, and he would be lost and adrift without her. He wants her to be God for him. (Side note: fulfilling this role is not what a woman needs, nor is it constructive of a sound relationship. Unfortunately, society has trained most men and women well for these roles.)
As described in the biblical account of mankind's fall after the creation, the woman's natural tendancy is to look to her husband (instead of to God) to fulfill her needs which only God Himself can meet. She wants him to be her God. She says she wants him to love her, but her real search goes beyond love. She is seeking God.
We all seek God. Some of us know it, some do not. We all know when we are seeking love, but we can't always tell, in any given instance, whether it is actually God whom we seek.
And what are the two most prevalent psychoses that seem to plague mankind in our day? I would say it is
- Narcissism, and
Granted, these are artificial diagnostic constructs, being "invented," as it were, by observers of human nature and behavior. But what is at the center? Is it not love? Yes. Love.
We don't know what love is, but we know we need it. And we will desperately pursue it, even while feigning indifference. Secretly, at least, we seek, desire, and long for love.
So what can a man or a woman do, who earnestly desires to be a lover of others? How can we love well, in view of the fact that no one on earth can tell us what love is? How can one reach beyond and above the trite little sayings and sound bites?
And furthermore, what steps can we take in order to see and recognize love when it comes our way? This onus falls upon ourselves, does it not? Is it not our own responsibility to recognize the love of those who desire to love us? If it's not ours, then who's is it!?
And here we have my final observation: the plurality of love. Love cannot exist apart from a lover and a beloved. The single man finds a wife, and in so doing, finds an object of his love. (In this regard, a wife should not object to being an object!) A single woman finds a husband, and in so doing, finds an object of her love. (Most husbands, unless they are fools, do not object to this objectification.)
Both may have been very loving individuals, but their lovingness, until they met, had no target, and thus was potential, but not actual. Now, being married, there is an object—a target—for their love. But the dynamics of love now depend on the participation of two individuals. Whichever way it's going, there is a love giver and a love receiver; and both are called to responsibility in each respective role.
Here's my point: Far too often, we hear (and say!) the statement, "If he loved me, he would… " or, "If she loved me, she would… " you may fill in the blank.
Hey, man, what you're failing to recognize is your own responsibilty in the act of receiving the love of your wife. And woman, the same goes for you. You have a responsibilty to recognize your husband's expression of love, even when it might seem like something else.
Love cannot prevail, pervade, and proliferate in an environment where either the lover or the beloved is failing to meet his or her respective responsibilties. Love needs both for actuality. It may potentially exist, but it cannot be actual without both: a lover, and a beloved; a giver, and a receiver.
Here's something we know intuitively: God might be love, if He exists, but unless and until I acknowledge His existence, His love (hypothetical or otherwise) cannot have any effect upon me or my life unless and until I acknowledge His existence. This is simple logic, with which the atheist and the believer alike can agree. Similarly, a husband might love his wife, but unless and until she can bring herself to recognize his love, it will not enhance their relationship. And that goes both ways.
I think that those who believe they are trapped in a loveless marriage should consider these things. It might not be loveless afterall. It's possible that you don't recognize the love that is there, right in front of you.
Christians at large must admit that we often fail to recognize God's love even as He sends it our way. God has not failed at love. It is us who fail to receive it.
According to the bible, man was created in God's own image. If God is love, then surely we have each, within ourselves, a vestige of the capacity and potential to love. What else explains the endless search of the poets? For hidden beneath the surface of their search for love is the search for the ability to express love! It's there if you care to look. Man is searching for an object of his love, as well as requisition. Could it be that we, in fact, are that object for God, Himself? Could it be that we are the object of God's love—and that He is patiently waiting for us to respond in kind?
I think so.
I am thoroughly so convinced.