The word LOVE is a concept that is very difficult to understand in my estimation. There is so much that surrounds it’s meaning. The Bible reminds us that we become rather meaningless without love. No matter how smart, or powerful we are, without love we are without direction. It seems to boil down to the fact, no matter what we do, all these things are folly and gains us nothing without love. The Bible also attempts to let us know what love is……it suffers long, kind, not envious, is not puffed up, does not behave badly nor seek her own, is not angry, has no evil thoughts, focuses on the truth, tolerant of all things, believes in all things, hopes in all things, endures all things, and never fails. Love is considered greater than faith or hope. ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?
How can one person fulfill all these qualities of love ? That is why I consider the term very difficult to understand and even more difficult to achieve.
Lately I have been perplexed at considering love in my life of 70 years. I have said it and I say it again, I feel like I have been unloved most of my life. Oh, I do believe my mother loved me and there may be a few others that I fail to recognize here, but when it comes down to feeling loved………the emotion escapes me. I have lacked an emotional tie to very few, if any, as a child and beyond. What I did experience was a dependency on my family and brothers for my well-being. As I grew older, that dependency lessened and I was left with confusion about being genuinely loved by others, even though I tried to express my feelings for them. At times I have even gone overboard in trying to convince folks I loved them. Some of this hinged upon buying my love in some ways.
As a pre-teen, I felt confused and sought attention (both positive and negative) ultimately looking for feed back from others as a way of feeling I was important to someone. By this time, it was no secret; I was prone to being depressed and went to extremes to seek attention. One thing I did on a couple occasions was to eat grasshoppers and small rocks on the schoolyard gaining the attention of other classmates. As I moved into my teen years, I found I could get more positive attention by doing well in my academics and music. I also played basketball but that was not something I cared for and certainly felt forced upon in a small town school for more or less being required to play. I was the tallest student in the high school of less than 50, so of course I was expected to play the “center” position. I always seemed out of sync with the other students who were moving into popularity with other students, dating and experiencing the high school romances usual at that age. For me, dating was just a “put on” (a show for my peers and family) to cover up the real feelings I had about the whole thing. I wanted to look like I could be loved, but always disappointed when I tried.
As I moved into adulthood, my attempts at loving someone from the heart (and even sexually), ended up in disaster most of the time. I found I was always the performer and the partner had alternative motives. When I stopped pretending there was true love between us, and discovered the truth, I was crushed and felt I was a failure. Whatever happened to loving someone unconditionally? As a result, I have given up on having more failed relationships and settle for sharing my love (or whatever it is called) with all people. You may hear me say “love you” a lot, and I genuinely feel it, however it brings me to tears when I look at how so many others feel there are conditions about me that prohibits a deeper relationship…….a deeper relationship to the family, to my peers and to my church. But in spite of how I am loved or not loved, I insist it is important for me to love everyone.
Though there remains emptiness within me, not having a committed partner, or a broader communal love; there are some qualities I would list as essential to me. I am not seeking a partner in life at my age of 70 but recognize it is still important to be loved by others with out abuse or rejection. These might include a shared obedience to each other, respect, willingness to negotiate without anger, allowing me to be my own individual, and when I fail, not being judgmental or rejecting. I seek acceptance in spite of my life conditions and handicaps without criticism or complaint. I recognize the importance of sex in a relationship, but sex does not serve as a substitute for a deeper, heartfelt emotional love. I am sure there are more, but these are some that come from the top of my mind.
Working with people as I do in this ministry, I am totally blown away at the frequency of sex activity and numbers of sexual partners. I am definitely naïve about this, but offer my opinion that sex is not the answer to true love in a relationship. It may be part of it, but not the most important part. I have given up on being loved as a normal individual among my peers, my family, and special acquaintances. I will settle on sharing my love with others by my counsel, giving help in time of need and being tolerant and patient when they fail. Hopefully somehow in my life’s example they might be able to focus upon the Love of God through Jesus Christ. When life is over and we tally up the great things we have done, the memory that will linger is not our deeds, but the Love we left behind.