Some might say I wasn’t born with a serious bone in my body. I would disagree. I have many serious bones, but they’re all buried so deeply that sometimes, I don’t even know where to find them. I’ve found one of them recently. And since I’m learning about openness and honesty, I’ll share it with you. This is one of my deepest, darkest fears. But I think it’s kind of a universal fear. One little four letter word: love.
People who share my background can kind of relate to my fear. It’s not a fear of love. It’s more that I fear a fundamental misunderstanding of how love works and what it is. All of my life, practically, I have been told that love is not an emotion. Lust is an emotion. People say that love is a choice. Love is an enduring, ethereal thing that we can’t hope to comprehend that we choose to follow for the good of those around us and not ourselves. You love your neighbor by choosing to give of yourself, even until it hurts. “Love at first sight” doesn’t exist; it’s entirely based on attraction that leads you no where but down the path of iniquity.
I’m afraid a lot of people have a clearer foundation on what this kind of love looks like than I do, and my lack of foundation in the area of love may be contributory in my misunderstanding of love. But as I tried to follow the above guidelines on love, I quickly came to realize that I was completely incapable of loving anyone—there was no way I could muster a pure and complete desire for the good of someone else. Oh, I would do the right thing now and then, help people out, and listen to their problems. But not typically out of a desire for their good.
Isn’t desire an emotion?
Aren’t our choices often governed by our desires?
Yes, it’s our job to control our desires and to make the right choices based on the right desires. But have you ever realized how incredibly difficult it is to make a choice between two equally (or apparently equal) correct options when you really have no desire whatsoever for either? It’s like trying to decide where to go to eat when you’re not hungry but know you need to eat. So, because you have an inherent understanding of what’s good (apparently) for yourself, you always make the choice that helps yourself more because both options seem “ok”… and years down the road, you still struggle with pride, self-absorption, and dying to self, and you realize that you have no idea what love is and, secretly, deep down, you start to wonder if it’s even a real thing.
Until, somewhere and somehow, God brings someone into your life who, for no reason that you can see, you genuinely want the best for. They didn’t do anything for you. They barely smiled at you. And, it’s quite possible that they don’t even like you. In fact, it’s quite safe to say that they had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. But for some reason, you want that person to be happier than you’ve ever been. And you know lust and arbitrary attraction have nothing to do with it. But it’s certainly not emotionless, either. The best possible description for it is has to be “love at first sight.”
And by experiencing that with one person, you finally “get it” more than you’ve ever gotten it before. It’s not about romance; it’s about God teaching you how to love others better than yourself by doing invasive surgery – planting a love in your heart so that you know what it means and can love others.
And that’s just a little something I’ve been learning over the past few weeks.