I read an article the other day that made me wonder if our current generation understands love at all.
It was entitled “Survey: Sleeping together before a first date is a-okay, but cracked phones are a put off.”. My heart hurt after reading it, and though I know these types of surveys aren’t completely accurate, I couldn’t help but feel concern for a generation who is looking for love and connection so desperately that the cultural norm is sleeping together on the third date.*
The world interprets many lesser things as “love”–
- cheap clicks on social media
- attention gained through sexting and skin-baring
- gaining a “following” by revealing your most private self for men to gawk at on Instagram or Snapchat
- “being together” even when abuse is present because anything is better than being alone
- indiscriminate s*x outside of marriage
The hurt and regret that follows such a misguided pursuit of “love” makes me wonder where our kids have learned this. Can we blame them entirely? Kids learn from examples, and we have to ask, where were we in this teaching process, and do we know what true love is? Have we demonstrated self-less love in our marriages and to our kids?
If we haven’t, the world has certainly been busy indoctrinating them to reject God as Creator (ultimately dismissing Him from any say in their life, erasing accountability) and to embrace self-love as the “ultimate good”, doing what feels right in the moment, an act which in itself makes loving others impossible.
Which leads us to confess that apart from God, we don’t know what true love looks like. Without His example of extreme sacrifice, we’d believe that the greatest love is the one that gets me what I want, feeds my ego, lets me use and dominate others, and always caters to my needs.
God shows us a better way. True love serves and sacrifices, as seen on the cross.
Love actually does the hard thing. When you want to fall in love, know this, love costs and invites inconvenience.
And we have to ingrain this in our kids and live it out before them. Sometimes love is not a feeling. Sometimes it costs us something. Sometimes we lose so others gain. Sometimes love is self-denial instead of indulgence.
Peter and I have been married for 25 years, and though I’ve married one of the finest men alive, it’s not the flowers, notes, dinners, or get-a-ways that show me how much Peter loves me.
It’s his love displayed in the daily self-denial moments.
- It’s holding his tongue when he feels like telling me off.
- It’s getting up for work every day for 25 years to provide for us.
- It’s standing by me in my worst moments, through 5 pregnancies, the “unattractive days” of morning sickness, the bed rest, the encouragement through postpartum depression, the getting up early on Saturdays so I can catch some extra rest while he walked the floor with cranky babies.
- It’s the speaking truth to me when it’s not popular.
- It’s giving me opportunities to do things I love when he could have used the time or money on himself.
Love looks a lot like sacrifice that doesn’t wait around for reciprocation.
You and I can relate to this kind of love in motherhood. What mother doesn’t want the best for her kids? We do hard things because it’s best for our kids. When we are exhausted, we still get it done for our kids. When they’re praised, we don’t pout and wish we were the one praised. (Love does not envy.) When they are excited about an opportunity, we rejoice–we don’t brag about our own opportunities. (Love does not boast. Love is not proud.) It’s not about us, it’s about them, and we’re happy to have it that way.
(Side note: when you struggle with that problem person in your life, compare your love toward them to your “mother-love.” Ask, would I be excited if my child was honored or given an opportunity? Yes, because, mother-love. Then how does my love for this person compare? Why is it lacking? Would I be glad if my own child received good gifts that I never had? Yes. Then why do I feel the need to downplay or stew over their happy moments? Usually, you’ll find that love is lacking, friends.)
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, let’s remember that we only know what true love looks like in purity when we see Christ. We can’t define love our own way. God has modeled and defined it:
Love is patient and kind. It doesn’t ever envy or boast because it’s always happy for the other person. It isn’t proud because it mainly serves. True love doesn’t keep track of wrong doing. Doesn’t tally up your mistakes as ammunition later. Love overlooks and extends grace. Love protects and cherishes. It always expects good and hopes with eyes that sees all the possibilities for a person.
Don’t settle for lesser loves. Don’t embrace a love-fraud that promised happiness and leaves you hurt. Let your love be regulated by scriptural bounds and tested for truth and purity by Biblical standards.
As Christians, we’ve known the Giver of the greatest love, and as we know and enjoy Christ more every day, and find our satisfaction in Him, that knowledge will revolutionize the way we love others in return.
Want to love your spouse better? Plan to sacrifice more. Want to love your neighbor as your self? Serve him in ways you’d appreciate being served. Want to love that church member as Christ commands? Plan to deny your flesh, and expect inconvenience as ministry (aka–service).
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. ~John 15:12
*Side note: no matter how conservatively or conscientiously you’ve trained your kids, they are more like the current culture than you’d ever believe. For reference, read Generation Me and Already Gone and Revolutionary Parenting, all very helpful books for understanding how the “rudiments of the world” stick to your kids and shape their thinking.
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