Father Dave Mercer, a Catholic man, in case you were wondering, wrote on Aleteia.org that the three most desired phrases to hear are:
“I love you.”
“You are forgiven.”
“Supper is ready.”
When I think of that last one, it brings back memories of holidays with my family. We’re sitting around making small talk and wiping the drool off our chins waiting for that great smelling food to be ready.
We all want to be forgiven for the dumb things we do. I am blessed to be surrounded with such great people that when I do make a mistake, I am quickly and easily forgiven. And that is true of God who forgives my sins after I repent of them.
I am loved. Every single day I hear I love you. Yet there were days and months and even years when I was younger in which I never once heard those words.
Love means different things to different people. We are easily confused what love is so here are three things love is not.
Love is not sex. Hollywood is wrong on that one!
Love is not permission. Modern culture is wrong on that one.
Love is not controlling or mean or violent or nasty. Toxic partners are wrong on that one.
When I was younger, I didn’t really know what love was. I rejected God and so I had to rely on what the world told me love was. I had some very peculiar relationships!
God is love. 1 John 4:8 tells us this.
Love can be felt, seen, and experienced.
The action of love changes throughout our lives and is different depending on the relationship. I love my friends but that love is different than my love for my wife, Stella.
I have different expectations in each of my relationships because each relationship is unique.
More often than not it is expectations that cause problems in relationships and not love. If my expectations don’t match the type of relationship, there will be heartbreak and one or two problems. Crushes and infatuations are examples of this.
Unmet and often unsaid expectations stem a lot from the culture around us and our inner desire to be loved. Whenever we base our lives on the morals of a fallen world, trouble follows.
But what if we base our love on God’s love? What if we loved without concern about being loved back? We love him because he first loved us it says in 1John 4:19 and in Romans 5 it says that he loved us even when we were still his enemies and even died on the cross for us! That’s love.
You see true love is not just a prince saving a princess and living happily ever after. True love is sacrificial and forgiving. True love, God’s love, expects nothing in return. The famous Bible passage said at many weddings, 1 Cor 13:4-8a, lists attributes of the kind of love God has for us and the kind of love we strive to have for each other. It is not just talking about husband and wife though.
Let’s be honest here. I can’t do this! I can’t love like this. Not all the time. I want things. I want to be loved back, to be treated a certain way. We all do.
If we base our love on Hollywood or the world around us, we do the exact opposite of this. We love ourselves first and others last. And you know what the Bible says about first and last.
Yet with God’s love in me, I can do this. With God’s love as our base for love, we can all love like this.
This is good news.
Valentine’s Day is coming up so remember who your real valentine is:
You are loved indeed!
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon). He and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministries which offers love, hope, and encouragement to one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods, North Central Regina. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca