Love is a universal language.
It is spoken by all peoples of all cultures and yet manifests itself in so many different ways. Love is an enigma. Something that lights the soul on fire and provides purpose to the very essence of life. It brings joy to a despondent heart. Provides comfort to an otherwise weary soul. Love is the epicenter of all things considered “life.”
We all seek it. Everyone speaks it. It can be beautiful but where do we go wrong with it? Where did I go wrong with it? I’ve been taught many things concerning love over the last seven years of my life. Saying that, I feel as though I’ve not even scratched the surface of what it truly means. What I do know is that in the recent months love has taught me these five things:
1.) It isn’t about you
This was the hardest thought to get my head and heart wrapped around. Love, in its purest form, isn’t about you or I. We are not the epicenter of love’s existence. Love is putting the other person before yourself. It is seeking opportunities to sacrifice on behalf of something greater. It is willing to give all of itself so that something, or someone else, can benefit the most; even if they don’t deserve it.
Our culture runs counter to this thought. It says that love is about getting while you can and looking out for yourself before anything else. When conflict arises, our culture screams to run away. Conflict=danger.
Real love isn’t about you or I, though. Real love looks for opportunities to give. It says, “Even though you hurt me, I’m going to forgive you and not lash out.” Real love is sacrifice for something greater.
2.) It won’t make you happy
Here’s something that no one seems to understand: Love won’t make you happy. Everyone, including myself, has been indoctrinated with the idea that when you find real love it will make you happy all of the time.
Real love can make you feel happiness but it won’t make you happy. Yes, there are times of joy. Yes, you can feel exuberant when you’re with your loved one. Does it ultimately satisfy you? No.
Love hurts. Love is a sacrifice. Love is looking out for the other person even if that means you don’t get what you want. Does that sound like happiness to you?
Maybe, just maybe, we need to redefine our definition of happiness. Instead of thinking of it as an emotion, let’s purvey it as something a lot more beneficial.
Happiness is a choice. Sacrificing for someone you love gives you happiness. It ultimately provides you with satisfaction.
Let’s be honest: Real love is not going to make you feel happy all of the time. If it’s real love, as defined above, it will provide you with a satisfaction and a happiness that becomes a lifestyle.
3.) It’s a choice
Love is not a feeling. Hormones are feelings. Love is a choice.
If any of you reading have been in any kind of relationship before you will know that you don’t always feel like loving the other person. There are arguments, hurtful things said or done and sometimes you face pain you could never have imagined inside the bounds of a relationship. If we’re operating in the world’s eyes of what love is, we would opt to run from the very thing that hurts us!
As you can tell, I’m not operating from the world’s point of view. My perception and understanding of love is this: Christ sacrificing himself on a cross for all people who reject him time and time again. He, being God incarnate, saw that Man, sinful and destitute, needed a Savior. He came to the world and willingly sacrificed himself for people who had sinned, and still sin, against a holy God. We don’t deserve the love He gave to us! We deserve hell but He said, “I want to give you something better.”
THAT is love. Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross. In fact, he pleaded with God to remove this circumstance but He ultimately chose to give us something better. In the same way, we should love other people like this.
Choose to love those who hurt you. Choose to love those who hate you. If you’re in a relationship with another human being, there will be times when that other person hurts you. You won’t feel like it but real love calls you to choose.
4.) It won’t be easy
Here’s another idea that runs counter-cultural. Everyone thinks that real love is easy; that once you find “the one” you’ll be set for life.
Oh, how I wish that I knew this beforehand. It’s not easy! Why? Because if you’re truly loving, you will be sacrificing your own desires for someone other than yourself who, at times, probably doesn’t deserve it. Easy? Far from it!
As I said above, though, if we choose to love despite what the other person does, we will find a deeper satisfaction than any surface level feeling could ever give us.
No, it won’t be easy but…
5.) It will be worth it
I’m not married but I know that having a real kind of love is worth pursuing after. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes and I wish to have it. I’ve also felt it because my Savior, Jesus, shows it to me on a daily basis and calls me to do it.
All of this is worth it.
I can guarantee you that this isn’t a popular truth. It also obviously operates out of a Christian perspective but what more would you expect out of me? If you don’t agree, which some of you may not, let me challenge you to something. Take whatever mindset, belief system, practical outworking of love that you have, put it aside for a time and try what I have just written. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian…Do some studying. Look at the love that Jesus modeled and then try it. Be sure to let me know how it goes, too!
It won’t be easy, it won’t make you happy as the world defines it and sometimes it will hurt. Choose to love differently and see the difference that it makes.
Give yourself to something greater than the word’s idea of love. Give yourself to Christ’s form of love.
It will be unbelievably worth it.