love is…

Not sure why I felt compelled to write about love today.  Maybe it’s because today marks the anniversary of losing someone I love.  Maybe it’s the result of some deeper conversations I’ve had with friends lately.  Whatever the reason the idea of love has been circulating through my head the last few days.  Occasionally, I’ll jot down a note about something a client’s shared with me in a session or a thought a friend’s mentioned over coffee ~ hoping it will matriculate into a blog post or remind me to ponder over the meaning of something.  As I read through what I’ve always considered a random conglomeration of various statements and questions, I noticed a growing list hidden among the ramblings.  I had unintentionally begun an inventory of ways people define love.   And as I read over the list, it struck me that love goes far beyond the items indicated.

Here are some of the things I’ve heard as descriptors of love:

Love is sex.
Love is affection.
Love is words or encouragement or compliments.
Love is money.
Love is flowers or gifts.
Love is closeness – in the proximity sense.
Love is someone else fulfilling your dreams.
Love is a number (i.e. the number of things you buy me, the number of times you say “I love you,” the number of time you spend with me).
Love is listening.
Love is a commitment to one person.

I’m not saying anything on this list is bad.  I’m also not saying that these items aren’t connected to love in some way.  But, I think we fool ourselves and distort true love when we believe this list is what love is all about.  I believe that the real purpose of people sharing love is to reflect what love was REALLY meant to be – a sacrifice.

Ultimately, this is what I see love as:

I John 3:16 – I’m going to list it is two translations – NIV and then The Message.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.”

I think this is the point we must get to in knowing that we really love someone and they love us.  Sure, the things above are valid and most could be considered necessary in a relationship at some point.  But I think getting to that place where you can say – I will sacrifice for you is the true definition of love.  Not only that, I think it’s sacrificing when we really don’t want to.  Think about Jesus’ time praying in the garden before He was crucified.  He was crying out to God to take this burden from Him.  Wanting to and willing to are very different concepts.  Willingness is the essence of sacrifice.

sac·ri·fice: the act of surrendering something precious.

I know few people who want to surrender something precious.  The willingness to communicates a much deeper level of emotion.  Personally, my gratitude increasing exponentially when someone does something for me that they would’ve rather avoided (of course guilt creeps in to but that’s a thought for another blog :-)).  It’s because their actions are done out of willingness not want.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that the examples of sacrifice in the Bible are ones that involve having to willingly give a human life.  Love involves the willingness to give anything.  And for me, that is where God has come into play in my life.  If I am going to sacrifice, who can then meet MY needs?  I guess, if I fully embrace the truth of God’s word in loving someone ~ I have to TRUST that God (not anyone else) will provide for my needs.  Trust me, I fail at this DAILY.  But in reflection, some of the few times I’ve been successful at sacrificing my needs for those of someone I love deeply have been the most amazing, life-giving (no doubt challenging) moments of my journey so far.

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2 Responses to love is…

  1. Erica says:

    Thanks, Debi. I needed to read this today.

  2. Steph says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about sacrifice. So glad you wrote this; it’s definitely something to think about.

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