Oh, the randomness...

Just my thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Love begets Love

This is something I’ve really been thinking about, and so you’re welcome to dive into my new theory with me. But I apologize in advance – it can be rough the first time you dialogue through a new theory!

As I sit here typing this, at my desk, I am surrounded my reminders of the people I love. A picture of Ruthie and Ember and I in Nashville is to my right, me/Tom/the Relevant crew is up to my left, and Kim surrounds me on both sides. My family is also here as are the most precious girls in the world, my college roomies. And then on the wall behind me is the collage of senior pictures of my beloved LifeLine girls. It’s so crazy – for in a few months they will no longer be in my youth group, but will officially be becoming adults and they will finally, simply, be my friends.

Love is such a multi-faceted word. It summarizes the deep knowledge and intimacy with another person, and the choosing to honor, respect, and trust them no matter what. And sometimes it’s really easy to love people, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people disappoint us, let us down, hurt our feelings, leave us out, forget to call back, hang out with our friends but without us, etc. etc. I know I’ve been that friend that has forgotten to call back, or who has disappointed those I love most, and the list goes on. That’s why love is a risky choice – there are no guarantees that it will be pain-free. In fact, in many ways one could argue that it will definitely be pain-full at times, but that there is still such beauty in the pain.

Anyway, I’ve always grown up a very curious person, always absorbing the environment around me more than people realize. I’m such a sponge – I soak everything in and carry it around in this over-worked brain of mine until there is a time I need to pull it out and examine it. One thing that I’ve always really enjoyed watching are relationships: romantic ones, parent to child ones, teacher/student ones, Christian ones, etc. And it seems to me that there is always this common denominator that with love comes a tendency to control. That there is a fear of love leaving, and when we sense that, we reach out and grab tighter and we punish or don’t give love when we feel we’re not receiving it.

I think that’s a bad model. A terrible one. First off, it teaches that love can be controlled, even worse that it SHOULD be controlled. I don’t agree with that at all. Love is a choice. It’s a daily choice, sometimes hourly. :) It cannot be controlled. It should not be tamed, it should not be controlled – it needs to be free to express itself. It needs to be free to not choose to love back. Secondly, it’s selfish. And oh boy, have I selfishly done this in the past: when I don’t feel loved back, it’s easy to then withhold love. To emotionally punish. But all that does is hurt the person, hurt myself, and hurt my relationship with God.

So instead, I’ve been working through and testing this new theory of mine: that love begets love. That even in the heat of an argument, a loving response will not only calm things down but it will also be so powerful that it must elicit a response of love. I just more and more am convinced that love begets love. That love is such a powerful force, that nothing is outside the redemption of God’s love, his perfect love. And that it is that love that we are called to emulate. And it is this love that repairs fragmented relationships, nurtures a healthy self-esteem, heals past wounds…it is this love that shows Christ to the world.

So in my life, what does that look like? Well, it looks to me like serving others well. It looks like loving my girls enough that I confront them on dangerous life patterns, and that no matter what they throw at me that I love them through it. That when they pull away, I don’t retaliate and do the same. It means loving my mom through the hardest times and not punishing her in the same ways she punishes the rest of our family. It means loving J well, and simply pouring out an abundance of love – not to get the same love back, but simply out of a desire to love well. I do think that ‘romantic’ love is the toughest challenge of all – I think it’s the relationship that for most of us it’s the hardest to be selfless. But once again, my theory would say that instead of focusing on taking and making sure “my needs are met”, that out of giving an abundance of love to someone that they can’t help but also give an abundance of love back.

So hopefully this all makes sense. It’s just something that’s been on my mind and I had to get down on paper. Er…computer. :)


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