Have you ever been in love? Many of us would claim we have been. Sometimes, we’re unsure. We use feelings to justify or confirm that we were in fact in love. “I just feel so happy around him!” “She makes me so giddy!” “He just makes me feel good.”
We think because “we’re so excited to be around them,” “we like the same things,” or “they’re different from anyone we’ve ever dated,” that it means we’re in love. Granted, sometimes, this is the case. However, this is not always true. Sometimes, it’s something else.
You’ve likely already heard this. Lust does a fantastic job at masquerading as love. We often perceive our lust for someone as love for them. Lust can be defined as a very strong desire–often unquenchable. It is not wrong in and of itself to strongly desire something.
However, it’s important to qualify (verify) what we desire. We can do this by asking a couple of simple questions.
Why do I want what I want?
This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish love from lust. If you want what you want for an unhealthy reason (pride, insecurity, superiority), then you know it’s lust. Lust does nothing but consume you. Love doesn’t consume you, it blooms you and those that are in relationship with you.
What will I do once I get it?
Is your desire for selfish reasons, then you know it’s not love; for love is selfless. Are you unable to give selflessly? Do you only desire to receive without any reciprocation? This leads me to my next point.
This is likely the most common dynamic at work in relationships that seem to have love, but don’t. The only reason I have any perception of this, is because I’ve discovered this within myself.
You may have learned about reciprocity in Math class in high school. It is simply a mutual exchange of privileges. “I am this to you because you’ve been that to me.” “I’ll do this for you because you’ve that for me.” “I expect you to give this because I’ve given that.”
Disclaimer: I’m not saying you should not have standards or stay in toxic relationships. No. Instead, I am saying a relationship built on reciprocity cannot live up to its fullest potential and it is not love.
In a reciprocal relationship, I love that you did this for me, but not necessarily you. I find myself attached to what you can do, give, or be to me and not you. That’s not love. Love isn’t looking for what it can get, love has already given. It’s free. Love gives freely. For the moment love requires compensation, it’s not really love.
I thought I knew how to love. I did; and maybe I did know how to love. However, after many heart breaking experiences, I’ve been slow to love those around me in fear of getting hurt. “What if I let myself love them and they hurt me beyond repair?” To a hurting person, that is the most valid question you could ask. While our ‘what if’ scenarios hardly ever come true, you can’t help but believe that if you chose to love, you’d end up broken.
I want to encourage you to love again. I don’t mean seek a romantic relationship–but love again.
Love yourself. Love others. This will only be possible through intimate relationship with the Most High. For many of us, the reason we’re unable to love without fear is because we have a skewed perspective about God. We’ve lost our trust in Him. We’ve lost our faith in Him. We feel like He left us when we needed Him most. So, we no longer go to Him when we feel lost or broken.
Fortunately and unfortunately, He is the only One that can find us when we’re lost and mend us when we’re broken.
The thing is, God is love–the very essence of it. God doesn’t have love, He is it. God doesn’t give love, He is it. If we’d allow Him to infiltrate every area of our dark hearts, they’d beat again. God wants you to be able to love again. You haven’t lost it, it’s just hidden. Remember, love doesn’t wait to be acknowledged or recognized. It’s free.
So, even if you’re not acknowledging God in your life right now, just know that He loves you still. That is the greatest truth we can ever grasp as humans–God loves you. Don’t forget it.
Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love
Be sensible. Be fools.
1 Cor. 3:18