Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Word About Love

 Well...it's Valentine's Day. For those who have a special someone in their life (spouse, fiancee, boyfriend, girlfriend), it's a day to let that person know you care about them and want to show them your love. For the singles out there, it's a day to remind yourself that you don't have what others have...and the longing can set in. 
 Honestly, I feel like this day is rather silly. Because, we don't need just one day to be reminded to love those around us. We should be loving them fully and deeply every day of the year. And love isn't contained to merely a romantic relationship as this day suggests. I feel like Valentine's Day (while well-intended) just adds to the notion that you can only love or be loved if a "special someone" is in your life. And that only such a relationship can satisfy or fulfill you as a human being. 
 I want to take a moment to encourage us all...regardless of whether or not we are currently in a serious relationship that love isn't limited to who, where, or when. Of course, there are varying levels of love and certain depths of intimate affection that can only be reserved for our dearest and closest relations and family. But, just because we are or aren't in a relationship doesn't have to define how we love or whom we love. Or even if we feel loved at all. 
 In my younger years, I used to think that I could only be loved deeply if I had a guy in my life. (Even you male readers out there know what I'm talking about here.) We all struggle with this concept that our special someone is the solution to our happiness or lack thereof. We set expectations for the people around us to satisfy our deepest longings, our innermost needs. But the crazy thing is...even when such people are in our lives, we can still feel alone. We can have the best of human love available to us and still feel left out, lost, and distant. 
 Because here's the thing...human love is fickle. Even as deeply as we are given the capacity to care for one another, we fail often in our love toward each other. We fall short of how much we could be demonstrating that love in countless ways...because we're selfish; we're arrogant; we're in a rush; we're more concerned with being right and being heard than loving deeply. Thus, we have equally the same capacity to hurt and divide as we do to care and love. And we're successful in this far more than we'd like to admit. And there is only one cure for such a broken condition of the heart...
 God must teach us how to love. 
 Apart from the most perfect and divine Example of what true love looks like, we have no idea how to lay down our selfish aims for the good of another. We have no concept of how to love without limits, of how to forgive without reservations. He must show us the way. In like manner, we must have first experienced His love in order to feel valued in this one life we live. Otherwise, we cannot give what we have not known for ourselves. 
 Loving takes a lifetime...and often multiple failings in it...to understand and learn. This is why I feel that our culture takes loving too lightly. We treat it as a feeling instead of a way of life. We think that, as go our feelings, so can go our love. But God demonstrates to us that love outlasts feelings. Commitment to the people in our life who matter doesn't depend on how we feel that day...because there will be days that you don't feel so loving to those around you. It is in that moment that you must decide to continue in that love, regardless of how you feel. Love is demonstrated trust in action. Trust that outlasts the ever-changing winds of our emotions. 
 And only One truly gives this in the most true and honest way possible. People come and go in our lives and not everyone who is here today will be here tomorrow. Even though we may be blessed with an amazing circle of love in our lives, we will still face days where we feel let down by those people. Even times when they hurt us...deeply. We will face hours of intense loneliness when even their love is not a cure. 
 This is where God's love must be foremost. When all other loves are aligned with His, our worth doesn't have to change with the people and situations around us. We can know that we matter...every day of the year...because of Him. His love is not confined to one day or one place or one person. His love reaches greater, higher, deeper, fuller than anything any person can ever offer us on this earth...including ourselves. All human loves fall short in light of His limitless affection for us. 
 So...on this Valentine's Day...whether you're single, dating, engaged, married, or even widowed...take joy. Feel loved...because the King of Kings calls you so. Feel valued...because the God of the Universe cares for you. Feel satisfied...because your happiness is found in Him. So let the chocolate flow, the dinner dates happen, the romantic movies commence...but know this -  (and know it deeply) - you are always loved because He is always good.