Love Is

by - June 21, 2013

Time is on my writing’s nemesis list.  So, I’m not a daily or weekly blogger.  But, when something sparks and I have a recurring thought that keeps nagging to be typed out, all of a sudden time is defeated and like tonight, I find myself sitting here with some of it on my side…listening to Ingrid Michaelson and The Lumineers and typing.  I can’t write to Mumford and Sons.  I get too excited.  I can get a little distracted listening to the lyrics I’m listening to now, but they are about love and relationships and that goes along with this nagging thing I want to write about.  So here we go… love and relationships.

Even if you recognize the first few words in the picture below...go ahead and read it all the way through slowly.  Think about what these words mean.  They aren't just pretty words.  They are directions. They are the way to love.  To reach love. To recognize love. To do love.

Over the last few months I have used one very important contrast list from HFTH resources in counseling. It's a practical list that helps us recognize the difference between love and lust.  Most often the context is a romantic relationship when we speak about this difference, but aside from passion the lists can apply to any relationship because we are called to love one another, deeply, from a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).  The difference between love and lust is the difference between selfish and selfless; between fleeting and forever.  Temporary and Enduring (as you'll read below).  God's word is a life map for us.  And the lists below are one way to consider "am I applying God's word, in particular 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, to my actions? or do I just know the verses?"  This is the difference between head-knowledge and a heart change that brings freedom and grace into our lives, and in the case of this verse love; and how we break out of the same recurring defeating patterns we've always walked through.  I love helping people walk through sinking His word into their hearts.  I am broken and so thankful when it sinks into mine. 

As you read the lists below, think about relationships you look back on and miss, relationships you are in, relationships you want to be in…

Lust Is:
Love Is:
Uncontrolled desire
Emotionally shallow
Based on fantasy
Full of emotion
Driven by one's passion
Focused on external looks
Established on faulty reasoning
Set on getting happiness
Eager to get
Controlled desire
Emotionally deep
Based on reality
Full of devotion
Chosen by one's will
Focused on internal character
Established on solid reasoning
Set on giving happiness
Eager to give

What list do your relationships fall under?  1)  Your past relationships that somehow seem to have grown in romance and melancholy the further you are from them. What list were they truly under? 2) Your current relationships that are either chemically charged with a touch of chaos (things that aren’t considered good in any other realm of existence, except roller coasters) or calm.  3) The relationships you may want and the vision you have of them.  What list do they fall under?  The thing is we all get to choose.  But, hopefully we choose with full disclosure of what we are choosing.  (Recognizing we have choices seems to be a recurring theme with me)  According to 1 Corinthians Love Is….not what many times we look for to indicate love, that are often found in the first list:  sudden, uncontrolled desire, eager to get.  We can’t say we want love, and operate out of lust because they are not the same thing.  It’s like saying I want to go to California, and then driving east because you see bright lights.  You are still on a trip with some exciting stops along the way, but you are going to end up in New Jersey…and ain’t nobody got time for that. So with these lists in mind, what should you let go of or hold on to, if loving well is your goal?  Remember, you get to choose.  You cannot choose for someone else, but you can choose for yourself.  And it's not all about what you are willing to give, you also get to consider what you are being given (ladies), and trust God with your future instead of just trying to make the present work.   

That being typed...if we want love, we have to operate in love and be patient. Kind. Not envious of the other, or showy, or not humble.  If it’s love that we want to give and receive, we can’t be rude, or be thinking about what am I getting out of this?. Because love doesn't do those things; not through you, or to you. We can’t keep track of hurts and bring them back up to win a battle down the road.  We don’t get to be glad when the other is brought low, but rather so grateful when truth creeps into their life even in painful ways. We have to protect.  Always Hope and never give up...without counting the cost. 

We can’t feed on or off of one another for our own benefit, but nourish each other and experience the fruit of that together.  We can’t love who we want someone to be.  That’s fantasy.  When it is truly love, we get to love them for who they are, where they are…just as Christ does.  While spurring them on as their identity is being conformed to the image of Him...just as the Holy Spirit does.  Whether it's our Beloved, our child, our friend.

Temporary or enduring?  The temporary doesn’t truly lead to the enduring.  It can lead to resignation and even commitment, but the frustrations/dysfunctions of being built on the temporary don't go away until the relationship is redeemed through Christ, who is Love, and teaches us to love. Unconditionally. Not co-dependently. Not manipulatively.  Not desperately.  Just unconditionally. Freely.  Graciously. It is never too late to grow love, even years into a relationship that may be founded on something else.  True love leads to deep devotion to one another, desire for each other, and joy in each other.  It is patient, trustworthy, devoted, and good, even in the midst of bad.

As we work through this list some have realized they are still watching for indications from the first list to prove love.  They don’t trust what they don’t recognize:  patient, controlled, focused on their internal character, eager to give to them and not take from them.  Still watching for indications they have successfully enticed, not watching for indications of potential love.  And, they are at times dissatisfied because there is an itch they are used to relieving that is not being scratched.  Persevere.  Practice love.  Walk in Love's direction and see where it goes.  The deceptive itch will subside and we will all get better at recognizing the real deal... Holyfield.  (I can't say the real deal without saying Holyfield.)

Several are already in relationships they know weren’t built on love, or at least aren’t operating in love now.  The good thing is they can start operating today in love. Redeeming love.  The love Christ pours into them for one another.  They have the option to begin operating out of love simply...out of love and obedience to Christ.  We all have that option in every relationship.  And obedience leads to blessing. Google that.  Even your kneading trough will be blessed (Deuteronomy 28).  “Love one another” and leave it to God where He wants to take it.  Don’t love to get love, you already are loved; or to manipulate the person into conformity to your image, God already has a plan for their image.  Just love. God will supply your needs.   Love is never wasted, unless you had aspirations of what you would get for it.  And then, it wasn't really love to begin with. 

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4–8)

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