When you hear the word love, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A spouse, child, or family member? How about a friend? Maybe it is not a person at all. People love food, things, and weekends too. It is arguable that the word is often misused. To me, one of the most interesting things about love is that people vary in degree of their “supposed love” based on what they are getting out of it. The big question is, if your love depends on performance or behavior, is it love at all?
Years ago, I had a nice sports car. It was my dream car, the exact way I wanted it. The exterior was painted a glossy black. On the inside, there were brown leather seats. When I told it to go, by pushing down on the accelerator, it purred to me and then suddenly took off. It had so many bells and whistles, I was still finding them at the time I sold the car. I drove through all kinds of weather conditions and by far, it was the greatest car I had ever owned. Every once in a while, I would say to myself, “I love this car!”
This kind of love is a funny thing. It would be nice if love were that simple. What complicated it for me was when my car did not love me back, at least not how I thought it should. As a car owner, I wanted nothing to do with problems with the car. Every time something broke on it, I had to take it in for repairs or fix it myself. It got to be quite expensive in the process. Yes, those were the times my love was silent. In those times, I used hateful words like “What’s the matter with you, you piece of crap!” Was that the best way to talk to something I loved?
Be honest with yourself about how you use the word love. Despite popular animation movies, inanimate objects do not have feelings. They do not need our love, but definitely need our care. But saying we love them waters down what real love is. When love is a broad spectrum, it falls prey to a varying degree of intensity, from full blown passion to hatred (absence of love). It is a simple switch of mindset to say that we like things, but love people. People should not have to wonder whether they are loved on the same level as a chocolate chip cookie.
With people, they should not have to wonder whether they are loved at all. It should be obvious. Love was never meant to be thrown away like yesterday’s garbage at the first sign of a problem. People are fine when you first meet them. But when given enough time, they will give you more than one reason not to love them. They can be disagreeable and contemptuous. In fact, there will be times when you follow the same line of thinking as I did with my car. Human behavior is prone to all kinds of toxic and negative ways. You may find yourself screaming on the inside, long before you scream on the outside.
For an excellent checklist on real love, I found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Even if you are not interested in scriptures, this is a great one to take the time to look up. The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation with a dastardly behaving human, pull out this checklist. Observe your reaction and see whether it meets the demands of what love is. If your reaction is not appropriate, then find a different one that is. Remember, any time you lean away from love, then you are leaning towards hate. Never give in to hate. People are worth loving, even when they are unlovable, even when we do not feel like loving them. This is why we must learn to love on purpose.