02 August, 2010

L - is for the way you look at me...

God is a god of abundance, not a god of scarcity. Jesus reveals to us God's abundance when he offers so much bread to the people that there are twelve large baskets with leftover scraps (see John 6:5-15), and when he makes his disciples catch so many fish that their boat nearly sinks (Luke 5:1-7). God doesn't give us just enough. God gives us more than enough: more bread and fish than we can eat, more love than we dared to ask for.

God is a generous giver, but we can only see and enjoy God's generosity when we love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength. As long as we say, "I will love you, God, but first show me your generosity," we will remain distant from God and unable to experience what God truly wants to give us, which is life and life in abundance.  ~ Henri Nouwen

We were talking about love last night at small group. Love - agape love - loving how God intended. 

I leaned that before the New Testament was written the word Agape did not exist. If you had asked Aristotle what he thought about agape love - he would have looked at you like you were crazy.

They to come up with a new word to define God's love for us. That is amazing to me. 

Agape: sacrificial love, love that gives regardless of circumstances or response, how Christ loved the church, how we are to love. 

Agape love as it goes - is endless. It is the love God has for us - as far as the East is from the West. We cannot imagine how deep, and long and high and wide this love is. 

Can human love be the same?

I got into a discussion about love with a friend last week. Love, to me, is a choice. You choose to stay in love, you choose how you will respond to it. What starts as a feeling settles into a decision. Love is the starting place, not the end point.

There is a quote from Last Kiss I love: 

Stop talking about love. Every a--hole in the world says he loves somebody. It means nothing. It still doesn't mean anything. What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you say you love, that's what matters. It's the only thing that counts.

What is love and how do you know it or stay within it? I can think I "love" you and yet you can feel nothing. 

Chuck Palahniuk once said, "The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person."

I hate love songs. I hate chick flicks and the lies that say love should be easy. That you will just know. What about the moment the song is over? Most love songs are about a moment in time. I love you first thing in the morning, or that night our car broke down on that old dirt road and we laughed under the moon light... But what about when the car got fixed and he drove her home and the reality that they can't be together hit them again? What about when the film is over and the small things build up and all they want is to not feel that way anymore and they have become unknown even to themselves - they have the American dream - two kids, a nice house, and they have become strangers?

Fairy tales don't exist. Love takes work and that's the rub. We are told if it's "love" then it must be seamless. If it's love it must just fit and work and if you don't feel it then it must not be love. 

Love is not what I want for my life. I want joy and laughter, understanding, acceptance, adventure... I want someone to fight beside me, to hold me when I am scared and to let me be there when they are. 

Is that love? Or is that more than this emotion we have turned into an idol? I have become more and more convinced that love is like infatuation or lust - without anything to back it up love will fizzle (which is why it is love+ not just love). Maybe if we started talking less about love and more about what sustains it then we wouldn't have so much divorce, heartbreak or questions... 

What did Jesus teach about love? That it is to be sacrificial, abundant, servant-minded, about the other.

The love we are given in fairy tales or chick flicks or whatever else you want to name is Me centered. How you make ME feel, what you do for ME. If I stop feeling it then the "love" is gone and on to the next I go... 

But the love of 1 Corinthians is the total opposite of that - it keeps no score of wrongs, is not based on feeling, it endures and perseveres... 

We need a new word for THAT kind of love because love here on earth is selfish and egocentric and failing. 

Call me cynical all you want - but show me one example that proves me wrong about "love" alone being enough to carry people for 50 years. And, when you can't, tell me why we spend so much time, money, emotion on a feeling and nothing at all on what it's really about.

One very wise friend told me that they liked their wife more than they loved her. They loved their wife to her core, they've been married over forty years. But what carried them through the crap that love somehow denies is there - was that he liked who she was - in her core, in the honest human expression of who God made her to be - he liked her. 

In the end, I want to be liked more than I am loved. I wanted to be seen, appreciated, liked for who I am. And somehow that doesn't seem to equal human love to me. 

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© Amanda Lunday