Love. It’s a word we throw around a LOT. It’s used to describe any positive feeling about anything from food to social media posts. It’s used to promote political and moral stands. It’s used to manipulate and coerce. It’s also used to tell someone how much you care about them. It is the single reason that one man died on a cross to save the entire world.
How could a word like “love” become something so vastly overused? It’s no wonder that we’ve lost it’s actual meaning. Some people might tell you, you shouldn’t say things like, “I love pizza!” because the word love is too strong for the emotion you feel for pizza. I’m not going to tell you that (I mean…I’m pretty sure I really do love pizza, right??). However, I am going to say that maybe our English language is a bit too limited. We have a whole lot of words, but only one word for love.
In an effort to get down to love’s true meaning, I’m going to attempt to dispel 6 misunderstandings about what love is.
Six Misconceptions About Love
- Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Most of us probably already know this is a lie. This is a line from the movies that needs to stay there. The truth is the complete opposite! Love means always being willing to say I’m sorry. My husband has joked that he should just make a recording of himself saying “I’m sorry” to play on a daily basis. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea…lol. But seriously, it takes two good forgivers and two good apologizers (um…maybe not a word) to make any relationship work. Humility is essential to any relationship. You may find yourself apologizing during times when you really don’t think you’re wrong. That’s part of it. Being able to empathize and see the other person’s side of things is love at its best.
- Love means keeping the peace. Blessed are the peacemakers. That is true. But if you are too concerned with keeping the peace, you risk not being able to speak up with truth. Those you love are relying on you to speak truth to them. If you don’t, who else will? No one else will care enough. Society tells us that when you see someone you love making a terrible mistake, you should let them continue in it. Especially if it’s making them happy. True love will risk upsetting a loved one in order to point them in the right direction. Real love is hard. It’s hard work and it isn’t always “fun”. Real love is serious and raw and compelling. If you “love” someone by letting them continue a damaging lifestyle or life choice, never speaking up, you don’t really love them. Or if you do, you love yourself more. You may be more concerned with how others look at you and perceive you, than with the well being of the person you claim to love. That doesn’t mean you can force a person to change. But it does mean you have a responsibility to not just “keep the peace.” Speak up! Do it in love. After that, their response is up to them. Don’t be afraid to love someone well.
- Love means being nice to everyone. Nope. Just no. I am a nice person. Probably too nice sometimes. Being “nice” can be similar to keeping the peace. If you are always “nice”, you’re probably not always very honest or real. You may also have a habit of leading people on because you are too afraid to tell them how you really feel about something, because it isn’t “nice”. Being kind is one thing. But you can be kind and honest when something may not be “nice” to say or do. Being nice when that guy you’re not interested in tries to talk to you and impress you will backfire, every. single. time. Trust me. Experience has taught me this one! Being “nice” when someone who repeatedly treats you badly wants to keep hanging out, just isn’t healthy. You can be kind and let someone know you don’t appreciate how they treat you. Love requires you to stand up for justice, which isn’t always nice. Defending the ones you love, especially your country, requires things that are not nice at all. God sent his son to the cross to die for us. He had many disobedient, evil nations slaughtered and God is in his very nature LOVE.
- Love means doing whatever it takes to make someone happy. This is how people are able to manipulate and control others by using the word love. Boyfriends and girlfriends do it, family members, friends – most people may not even realize they are doing it. But it’s so very wrong. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “But if you love me, you’ll do this.” That isn’t love. It’s manipulation. Love is about compromise between two people. If only one person ever gets their needs and wants met, that relationship is parasitical (is that a word? You know, like a parasite). If you find yourself always giving in to the other person, because maybe their personality is just stronger, that’s your fault. It can be difficult, especially when you want to please someone or win their love, to “go against the grain.” But if you think always going along with them is what it takes to keep that person around, that just isn’t love. Give them a chance to show you that their love for you runs deeper than that.
- Love makes me happy. It shouldn’t require me to sacrifice my own happiness. Oh. But it does. This may seem contradictory to number four, but it isn’t. You should never try to win someone’s love by sacrificing your own wants and needs unnecessarily. But there is an essential element of love in any relationship, that requires you to “give” a little bit. Many marriages end because one or both parties no longer “make each other happy.” I can’t say too much on this since I’ve not experienced divorce myself (and there are certainly other reasons for it that go beyond this – I’m not here to say divorce is never an option, only that is should happen far less than it does). However, I am here to tell you that being “happy” isn’t what love and commitment are about. You don’t promise before God at the marriage altar to “make each other happy.” You DO promise to love that person, no matter the circumstances, ’til death do you part. The look of that love will change over the years, but a faithful marriage will always be rewarded. I love being a mom and I love my children more than words can say. It does NOT always make me happy. Being a parent is much more self sacrificing than anything a marriage requires. Even while writing this, I’ve been interrupted about fifty different times (so if something doesn’t make any sense – you’ll know why!!) to change poopy diapers, get snacks, find a “show”, take someone potty, break up a fight, find a toy, etc. I do NOT want to be woken up by getting head butted or have the requests for snacks begin before I even open my eyes. BUT, love means I don’t let my kids starve, even when I have no desire whatsoever to get up and make them breakfast (it might be an hour later, but they won’t starve!). Love might not always make us happy. But when you find true love in friendship and family, you will be filled with the greatest joy. It makes the difficult times much easier to get through when you know that love is authentic.
- Love is Beautiful. Well, it is. But its beauty may not always look the way you might think (see above: poopy diapers). Love doesn’t always look like the movies or fairy tales (that may actually be a really good thing…). Many times, it looks pretty ugly. Like when you don’t shower for a week, haven’t brushed your hair or your teeth and your hubs still finds you attractive (now that is love). Love is holding back someone’s hair when they have a stomach bug. Love is cleaning the toilet, making dinner, giving someone a ride, waking up all hours of the night, giving up the last cookie, a listening ear, all the small, seemingly insignificant things of life that seem like they don’t matter. Love is not glamorous. It isn’t even noble really. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s forever. Love always protects, always perseveres, always trusts, hopes – love. never. fails.
I hope you know love this Valentines day and always. If there is no one else, there is always God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. People will always disappoint. We are human after all, and we fail on a regular basis. God, he is love, and he never fails. If you don’t know HIS unfailing love, let this be your invitation to get to know him. Email us and we will give you a place to start. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! WE love you and are so grateful for each of you.