Monday, February 15, 2010

Love? What's That?

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and I’ve watched a number of remarks on several social networking sites that affirm or dismiss the concept/presence of love.

As human beings, we often mislabel other things as love. A quote from Alexander Smith was posted on Twitter more than 140 times in the last day:
"Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition."
Of course, we all enjoy connecting with others who are similar to us, who have characteristics with which we are comfortable. There is nothing inherently wrong in that, but this simplistic view falls far short of love and seems to border on narcissism.

For sake of discussion, I’ve been thinking that since God IS love, then all that is to be known of love is truly only found in knowing God. Everything else is a shallow reflection, seen through a cloudy glass. It then follows that what I feel, sense, accept or give in self-emptying love (see the example of Jesus in Philippians 2) becomes a revelation of Him.

I could intellectualize this until the cows come home but it’s a thin mask over my frustration in realizing that I know very little about expressing genuine love. It’s even more challenging to accept it when offered. I keep wanting to force the love-gift into the mold I’ve made in my mind: “It isn’t love unless it looks like this” or “that” or whatever I have defined as “love” in my mind.

This is a recipe for heartbreak and I’ve cried more than my share of tears over these scenarios in my life. The older I grow, the more I think I know nothing of love. Perhaps my greater challenge is to practice gratitude. To accept what is offered, in whatever form it comes and to apply myself to acting in the very way I wish to be loved.

Isn’t this the essence of Jesus’ words when he was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

I cannot control how others treat me and I certainly can't control whether they love me or not. What I CAN do is exercise my own responsibility: to love God and love others in the same way I want to be loved.

Now to go apply this. How do I love? How do you love? What has transformed your thinking about giving and receiving love?


  1. Those were good comments, Joyce! Narcissism is the key word in how our flesh ends up interpreting love! Sor example, I see more love in arranged marriage models of the past than in our courtship model popularized in the 20th century. We're so used to thinking in certain ways in the West that we forget how much of how we interpret things comes from our Western paradigm. I find myself having to constantly re-think long-held "values." It's good to be able to have our closely held values challenged, isn't it?

  2. Yes, thanks Brad. The older I get the more I'm challenged. Preaching is easy, practicing is hard. Can you email me the best way i could communicate with you (current email?)