Love is in the air.
It wafts through February with not-so-subtle notes of fresh-cut roses, chocolate truffles and pricey cologne.
(And occasionally, a hint of desperation.)
Valentine’s Day looms, casting its candlelit shadows and sultry melodies, rendering hopeless romantics everywhere… lovestruck.
Quick PSA: If you haven’t procured a token of affection for your sweetheart, you’ve got about 24 hours to bring the magic. And a giant teddy bear with big brown eyes and a red velvet bow is – sadly – devoid of magic… unless the object of your affection possesses the emotional maturity of a third-grader. (In which case you have have much bigger problems than finding the right Valentine’s Day gift.)
Since there seems to be a fair amount of confusion (and endless debate) about what love is and isn’t, I thought I’d try to sift through some sentiments/platitudes/poems/prose and toss a few of the fantasies/fallacies/falsities/fables.
(In honor of Saint Valentine, of course.)
Love is never having to say you’re sorry. (Erich Segal)
I disagree. Humility and mercy are pretty essential to love’s survival. Say sorry, mean it, make amends… start again.
Love is blind. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Nope. True love gazes intently, sees clearly… and loves anyway.
Love is friendship set on fire. (Jeremy Taylor)
Don’t really think so. I get the gist but… fire burns down. Love builds up.
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. (William Shakespeare)
Smoke vanishes. Love sticks around.
Love is a game and true love is a trophy. (Rufus Wainwright)
If love is a game to you… you’re a player. (And a jerk.) Thank u, next.
Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same. (George R. R. Martin)
Wrong. Love shouldn’t be toxic. Ever. (If it is, run for your life.)
Love is a flower; you’ve got to let it grow. (John Lennon)
Sweet sentiment… lousy analogy. Flowers wilt. Love is ever green.
Love is a serious mental disease. (Plato)
No, psychosis is a serious mental disease. Love, on the other hand, heals.
Love is a battlefield. (Pat Benatar)
Wrong. Life is a battlefield. Love is a bunker.
Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. (Robert Frost)
I’m thinking this sounds an awful lot like objectification. (And isn’t that what we tell our daughters to avoid at all costs? Thought so.) It’s devotion – not desire – that lasts.
Love is a reciprocal torture. (Marcel Proust)
Nope. Love doesn’t inflict pain. It endeavors to ease it.
Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it’s probably s&*#. (Smart, Alec.)
Actually, I have no idea who said this. (I just really wanted to attribute one of these quotes to the aforementioned fictional character.)
While these sayings are oft-quoted (and make catchy memes), none of the above is actually, well, true.
And I daresay it’s not what love is that matters most. It’s what love does.
Love rights wrongs.
Love banishes fear.
Love bears the worst… and believes the best.
Love never double-crosses or quits or falters or fails.
Love lasts. Forever and ever. Amen.
That’s real love. And there’s only one like that.
(But you already knew that, didn’t you?)
God’s love is pure… profound… perfect.
And nothing in the entire universe can stop it.
For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. (Romans 8:38-39, TLB)
It’s utterly indestructible, startlingly tender.
It can be shunned, mocked, betrayed, rejected or reviled… and it isn’t deflected, deterred or destroyed. In fact, it isn’t dimmed or diminished in the slightest.
In love, God fixes His adoring gaze on us – even at our ugliest and worst. (Which, let’s be honest, is often far more unsightly than what we allow to seep out into the public eye.)
Love refuses to be spurned. It simply… waits.
It doesn’t flinch in the face of rejection or rage. (Or even turn away.)
Because with God, there’s no such thing as “irreconcilable differences.”
In fact, there are no conditions for God’s love whatsoever… and no reciprocation necessary.
Crazy, isn’t it?
Who could possibly love like that?
Not a single soul on this spinning blue ball has the grace and guts to love that way.
Love is… and love does…
Love isn’t just God’s idea. It’s His very nature. It’s who He was, who He is… and who He will always be.
And since He’s the inventor of love, He’s the one who gets to decide what defines and distinguishes it from all of its imitators: attraction, affection, camaraderie, chemistry, compatibility, flattery, obsession, esteem, loyalty, lust. It isn’t just sweet talk. It’s truth. And it’s true blue.
He shows us the essence of love by example.
Quite simply, He lives it.
(In epic proportions.)
Who He is… is what LOVE is:
Incredibly patient, exceedingly gentle, consistently kind. Strong and steady and wholly unselfish. Refreshing, resilient, restorative, relentless.
God lives and breathes love. And let His only Son die to prove it.
Because love will sacrifice everything for its beloved.
Jesus bore the shame and blame and excruciating pain, and He did it for those who were inflicting it. (You and me and all the rest of humankind.) He did it with no guarantee that we’d ever appreciate – or even acknowledge – His incomprehensible sacrifice. He did it, knowing we might never return His affection and adoration. (Or pass it on.)
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
God is love. (1 John 4:7-16, The Message)
Turns out that crazy little thing called love is… a crazy big thing.
The biggest – and best – thing ever.