Love Now. I dare you.
Let’s talk LOVE.
We’re in February, friends. There’s approximately 17,834 things to accomplish between now and May. Events to be planned, meetings to be had, campaigns to be designed, weddings to shoot, homework to be submitted, parties to throw, food to be consumed, jobs to be applied for, and places to be. Not to mention it’s LOVE MONTH!!! Valentines garb litters the aisles of your local Kroger and you know as well as I – those chocolates will not be eating themselves.
Naturally, all this love stuff goes down and I have some questions about it. Hence, this article composed of ramblings and reflections of my heart on the topic of love and chocolate (equally valid topics, if you ask me).
My mind is a weird place (I bet this is not a surprise to most of you). I often categorize everything as lists and tasks in need of completion, but forget about the humanness involved in accomplishing things. Not making sense? Um, let me have Paul explain it:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Dang, Paul. That’s a lot. Anyone else struggle with it?? Here’s why I do:
I think for a while I thought about love as almost nothing. Kinda didn’t know what the difference of love and kindness/politeness/being-a-decent-human-ness was. And sometimes I wonder if I do truly know what love means and looks like to have it, and to give it. Growing up in a Christian environment, you often hear “Jesus loves you” (and if you think I’m gonna deny that, you’re hecka WRONG! He totally does love you to no end ❤️) but I do think that that phrase kinda became stale in my mind over time. The more I live and see how hard it is to actually, genuinely, deeply love, the more I appreciate and acknowledge the great, unfathomable, gracious love of Christ that I think I unknowingly took for granted the more the phrase was mentioned.
But what about love in the other sense? Not the Christ-to-us love, but the us-to-eachother love? How do we take the long to-do lists that our minds make, and accomplish them with integrity and care, WHILE LOVING PEOPLE?! And what does that even look like?!
Well, first off, I’m not naive enough to think that I can answer all of those questions, or any one of them for that matter. But I sure as heck didn’t make you read this much of my blog to not give it a try! So here it goes…
India’s 3 facts about love:
Love is weird, in all it’s forms
There’s romantic love, friend love, family love, pet love (perhaps the strongest love of all) and Jesus love. Romantic love is weird because – well I’m not the expert, but I just KNOW it’s weird. I think it has to do with the balance of one person being like “hey, I’m gonna do my best to put your needs first” and the other being like “ditto” over and over and over. I think successful romantic love looks like committed marriage where God is a the center of each day, each moment, and each priority. Followed by sacrificial love showed through intentionality in personalized love languages. It seems weird because it’s counter-cultural, right? In a world saying “me first, my needs first, my dreams, my desires blah blah blah” Godly, romantic love whispers of the other first – as Christ loved the church – even when it’s ugly and sweaty and met with unforgiveness and thick morning breath. But what the heck do I know?! When/if God gives me and Mr. HunkyHotnessManHubby (yes, that will be his official nickname) the gift of marriage, I’ll let you know if my ideas of marriage line up with the above thoughts. Stay tuned. ;)
Now then, FRIEND love. Friend love is weird in a wonderful way. Some of my best friends came into my life at a young age and I am flippin’ grateful to march along this great race with them by my side. Others came into my life saturating the everyday with joy and fun and forever memories, only to withdraw later on. Some have describe me as loyal. In the instances I mentioned above, where a close friendship begins to drift beyond my grasp, I truly feel like I’ve failed. Sometimes I chase it down, do what I can to keep it going and restore the broken pieces of it…and other times? Well, I’m learning to just sit in that nostalgic lament, accept it, and move forward in peace.
Family love is a whole thing. We are called early on to love and obey our mothers and fathers, and as I’ve grown into adulthood, I’ve had many moments of failure in this. Everyone wants you to consider their “thing” to be your priority – family is no different. If you give your word to someone, especially a family member, you best show the heck up and do the dang thing! But family love is messy and weird as well. Because of how close family can be, I think there’s this unspoken rule of feelings not being as valid, or excuses being used all too often.
I will say, however, that loving your family can be some of the most precious and protective love to implement and receive. I view it as both a point of improvement and a space to frequently grow in grace.
Ugh, there is nothing greater than the pure bliss and joy of unending mutual admiration and perfect purity than the love from a dog (not even gonna try to pretend cats can love in the same way, but DANG can dogs love well). If you know me for more than 2 minutes, you know the best lovers of my life come with awkward snouts and weiner-shaped bodies. My princesses are the absolute most besets women on this planet and I will never not love them.
But let’s get back to the people…
2) Love is tough & tough love is a thing
It’s risk and patience and disappointment and communication and forgiveness and necessity. To bounce back to 1 Corinthians 13, we need to love (like, vitally, definitely, 100%, for sure need to love). We have to exercise it. Without a true, deep love and care for those we’re with, all of our actions are pointless. It doesn’t always have to be big and dramatic, either. Trust me, there’s a place for Bob Goff-level imma-fly-across-the-globe-tonight kinda love. But more often than not, it’s the simple, quiet, and everyday moments. Loving the person next to you. Right now. What are there needs? What do they not know that they need that you could bless them with? How can you serve them right where they are? That’s some tough stuff to answer! Aren’t we tired? Don’t we have our own agendas? We don’t have time for all of that, do we?
I truly believe that God equips us and works with us to love others, else He wouldn’t have commanded that we did so. Even in the tough love moments where we have to lay out the truth to someone (not to be better than them or to up our egos). We love them so much, we want them to know the absolute truth. It’s our job to invite God into those places, and seek to love others in the simplest forms and unconditional fashions.
3) Love now. I dare you.
I can’t tell you how many nights and weeks and years I’ve spent thinking about falling in love. Well, not just falling in love, being in love. I mean, I’m also a WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, HELLOOOO I see that cuteness all the time! The gushy mess of a couple repeating their vows on their first day of marriage and their grandparents swaying together on their 60th year of it. I want it, no doubt! BUT I used to idolize the idea of marriage and crave an end to my “season of singleness” in an unhealthy way.
Honestly, it wasn’t until this last year where I actually was able to say “hey God, thank you for NOT giving me a partner right now.” I can’t tell ya how I got there except for time between the end of a relationship, and watching God use my heart for new things that needed my full, non-romantically-involved, focus.
There’s a misunderstanding in Christian culture about marriage. I feel like the church often encourages her singles to just keep waiting for marriage and THEN they’ll be complete. Praying for their future spouse daily, keep waiting for the right person, etc. While praying for your future spouse and asking God to honor the desire of your heart through blessing you with marriage is not inherently bad or wrong, I think there is danger in believing that you cannot love or experience love until you are married. Reading scripture, you find that Jesus never guarantees marriage, and as Paul mentions, some people are indeed called to a life of singleness.
(Hope that’s not me though.. O_O)
Obviously, I categorized love a few paragraphs ago. And until I got to the place where I could separate romantic love from the other types, I often would feel less than capable of experiencing/giving love. God gives us something beautiful by His creation of marriage, and I can’t speak too much on it being a non-married-babe-magnet like myself. But for my fellow gals or bros out there thinking that you are unable to love until you’re married, I want to slap that lie out the window and affirm you right where you are at.
Love your friends. Deeply and intentionally.
Love your family, earnestly and with care.
Love your freaking pets! They’re the most loyal lil babies ever.
Love the other, the enemy, the guy on the street asking for a cig, the classmate who chews too loudly, the politicians, the strangers, the sinners. There’s so much love to give and receive outside of a marriage. Of course, I desire a sexy, sleepover buddy for life to partner with me in Godly marriage, but I also never want that desire to become an idol that overshadows the opportunities to give and receive love that God has put in front of me right. now.
There is no way on this planet you can love others – like TRULY, madly deeply (p.s. One Direction, I miss you) – by yourself. How do I know this?!
Because how do you love if you don’t know the giver of love? God is Love and He empowers us to love like Him every dang day. It’s pretty stinkin’ incredible.
Got questions’s?! Please accept this official invitation to grab a cup of coffee to chat with me because I would love nothing more than to help you experience that wild, radical, reckless Jesus love for yourself.
In conclusion, I love you!
I will fail a thousand times over, but to whoever you are and whatever role you play on this earth, I want to love you in all the ways, as much as I can, in every season, with everyone around, and all for the glory of God. And I implore you to do the same.
Now let’s go DO it.