So, it’s cold outside. Because it’s cold outside — and subsequently, I’m cold when I go outside — I start to think of all the things that would make me less cold. Like: See? This right here is why I need a boyfriend with big arms! I would never get cold… (Because of course, he would be with me every waking moment of the day or magically appear every time I get cold?? Don’t ask me, chile. I’ve never been one to think rationally when it comes to love). And then, it hit me: “The Blues” — but not in the usual, “aww its winter and I don’t have a boo” kind of way.
I was actually saddened by the realization that I don’t want a boo at all: I want a blanket. And a maid (butler?). And a guru to pump me up when I’m feeling discouraged. But, not a boo. And certainly not a husband.
It saddened me because I realized that I am still thinking of love within the context of what it — or someone else — can do for me. Recognizing my weaknesses when it comes to understanding and displaying unconditional love for people in general, (not just in romantic relationships), I embarked on a heart-changing journey a few months ago, with the sole purpose of getting to the point of loving people like God loves people. Using the Bible-based book “The Love Dare,” (which breaks down what Christ’s love should look like in every day situations between husbands and wives), I have (almost) daily gone about the business of studying what God says about love so that I can adopt His ways as my own. At this point, I have completed over half of the “dares” in the book to get myself in the habit of treating others with pure love, solely because they are His children. I’ve tweeted about it (almost) daily and have been so excited about the responses I’ve received from people who follow me on Twitter, and I felt as though my heart was really starting to change…
And then, at the first shiver of winter, I got bummed that there was no one to keep me warm on the walk home, no one person who excites me or who I am nervous to see, or excited to talk about with my girls. It frustrates me that after these past few months, I am seemingly in the same place!
But surprisingly, it was also a joyous realization. The fact that I caught myself still relishing in the kind of love that the world provides — the self-centered, self-motivated, self-validating love — actually brings me joy! It is evidence that I can now clearly differentiate between what the world’s love looks like, and what God’s love looks like. That was certainly one of my goals. VICTORY!!! (At least, on the first count.) It is a sign to me that the Holy Spirit is alive in me and correcting me when I am still thinking the wrong way. God is at work in me, and I can see and feel a difference, even if it is small!
And even more importantly, it is a beautiful reminder that alone I can do nothing; God is the only one powerful enough to change my heart and my thinking. I will continuously fail when I try life and love according to my own flawed thoughts. But to succeed, I have to ask God to change my heart daily, make me new daily, make me more loving daily, make me more kind daily. It has to be a conscious act on my part, and it can’t wait until my lunch break, anymore! It’s got to be the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing at night. God, make me more like you.
Today’s Love Dare was “Love’s Motivation.” The scripture was from Ephesians 6:7: “Render service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men.” The message was that you don’t love people — and particularly your husband or wife — because of who they are and what they can do for you. Just like I slipped back into thinking about love in a selfish manner, people’s devotion is fickle — even to God. So if you love a person based solely on who they are (i.e., interesting, funny, beautiful, savvy, quick-witted, kind) and what they can do for you (i.e., build you up, support you, cook well, good provider, good listener, etc.) WHAT will you do when something happens to them an they can no longer be those people or do those things? What will you say when that person becomes someone other than the one who gave you butterflies, the one you married? What happens when they are no longer interesting, funny, or even kind? What happens when they lose their quick-wit to Alzheimer’s or their beauty to cancer? What happens if they go deaf and can no longer be a sounding board for you, or become laid off or paralyzed and can no longer provide for you? What happens if they “just don’t do it” for you anymore? As The Love Dare book explains:
Love motivated by mere duty cannot hold out for very long. And love that is only motivated by favorable conditions can never be assured of sufficient oxygen to keep it breathing. Only love that is lifted up as an offering to God — returned to Him in gratitude for all He’s done — is able to sustain itself when all other reasons have lost their ability to energize us….Love that has God as its primary focus is unlimited in the heights it can attain.
As I pray for Elizabeth Edwards, her children, family, and friends, I am even more convinced that butterflies in my stomach can no longer do it for me. Desperate love can no longer do it for me. Even when I was in love as deeply as I thought I could go, I realized that with time, my love always fades, eventually. My love is fleeting and deceitful, fickle in every way, and I don’t want that kind of love, anymore.
And it is perfect solace to know that I do not have to have it anymore. I do not have to depend on the failings of my own imperfect willpower, or judgment, or dithering love, because my God is consistent, and faithful, all-powerful, and never-changing. He can change my heart, my thoughts, and my desires into a heart, thoughts, and desires which only long to please Him. He can make me live up to my line name — #31 Virtuous Pearl — by giving me the kind of heart that the Proverbs 31 Woman has. That is so exciting to me! To know that God is willing to increase my capacity to love and my capacity for peace and simultaneously encourage someone else to chase God’s kind of love so they can I have what I’ve been given, I just want to run and tell that to somebody!
It seems I have someone to be excited about, after all
Anybody else glad that your life and love doesn’t have to depend on what you are capable of doing on your own?