As February 14th approaches, I have caught myself within the past week pondering on the word love.
Scrolling through social media I have seen the post about the dread of this day, and how sad it is to spend a whole 24 hours dedicated to something not everyone is in. Between the "goals" for those in a relationship, the sweet captioned Instagram post, and the videos and memes, there is an impression that if you are not in love, you are unhappy, alone or unsatisfied. When did love only exist in the presence of another individual? When did loving yourself, feeling complete with your goals and ambitions, and finding fulfillment in experience and friendships become nonexistent?
Love has morphed into something pleasing to the eye, a satisfaction of the flesh, and an acceptance by society, by man. Love is now viewed as a box, and you are either in or out, lonely or in partnership. Love is charged with how much someone will give, and what they will receive in return. It has become driven by underlying motives, fantasy stories, and public displays of affection. Love has become more of an ideological thought, social norm, and fabricated depiction of someone having it all together and "living the dream." It has the demand for respect and honor in selfishness, and it is filed into anger or regret when it is not received. Love has become a challenge as to how far someone will go before they reach a point of exhaustion.
In the beginning stages of love, we pick out parts we love about an individual in magnification, then later use those same things against them in an argument. We have made love a game between one another- the winner receives the satisfaction of saying "I told you so." We see the fourteenth day of February as a reminder of how lonely or in love we are, but as for me? My first Valentine's Day was when Christ sought out His Beloved on Calvary. What kind of selflessness took place that He expelled His last breath on Earth while propelling life into you! He was not dressed in a suite and tie holding roses at your door, but rather in front of thousands, being denied, while receiving the thorns of your roses upon His head. He did not take you out to a nice dinner, but rather broke the bread and poured the wine in symbolism of what was to come. He did not play all the right music while riding in the car, but rather gave you a new song to sing when your hallelujah grew faint. He did not kiss you goodnight on the front porch, but rather left praises flowing from your lips. Taking the blame and blows we deserved, and all in the name of love. Walking among those who betrayed Him, even then He picked up His cross as a sacrifice and carried on. He fell to His knees to propose to you a gift of true affection and passion. Nails were driven through His flesh, slowing His heart, His still uttered cries of love.
His body was broken on a cross has he gave all of humanity the biggest hug of grace. This is a man who sought out His true love and gave of His own life to gain your heart. He is infatuated, jealous, and undeniably in love with you. Often we read this beautiful love story and feel insecure in how undeserving we are. We tend to push God away in shame, but the biggest hurt we could cause God is believing He does not love us. Truth is, we did not deserve such a humble act, but Christ saw beauty in ashes. He saw purpose in confusion, hope for the unjust, and provision for the over looked. He saw potential in brokenness, completion to the process and possibility of the seemingly unconquerable. The conclusion to this love is not the end, but instead, the beginning of the best love you will ever fall into.
His love is an everyday experience. It does not leave you because of your past. It lifts you up to solid ground. It envelopes you in overwhelming waves, calls you out to deep waters, and holds you accountable to right your wrongs. It is patient, kind, and does not envy or boast. It is not proud, dishonoring, or self- seeking. It is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong, does not delight in evil, but in truth. It is one that protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. This love casts out all fear, triumphs over judgement, and provides freedom. It pulls you closer, and holds your heart to the very end. It treasures your presence, calls you fearfully and wonderfully made, and holds your right hand. It is a lamp onto your feet, a motivation to seek God's will, and it is an encouragement during hard seasons of life. It sees beyond disappointment, mends what is broken, and transforms all aspects. It calls you out of hiding because you are safe within it. It saturates the folds of your heart and drives out doubt. It will never leave you to walk a road alone, and it never forgets its home. Every morning it is new and afresh, and holds no offense.
This love existed before we knew it was love. It saw all of our flaws, yet still chose the cross. We were the ones in mind when He rose from the grave. Christ tore the veil so we could draw closer. He desires us to receive His love without hesitation. In receiving it, we must give it as well. Loving others as Christ has loved us is difficult beyond measure because of our inevitable selfish ways. Emulating Christ's love should be a practice in all our works, words, and actions because it is a public display of how great this genuine affection from above truly is. This is real love.
So, whether you are married, in love, or single, I challenge you to love as Christ has loved His church in all our wrongs, imperfections, and cracks. Instead of searching to find yourself, lose yourself so deep in Him that an individual has to seek His kingdom before finding you. Receive His love- it is offered abundantly. Give love, for it is your calling. Happy Valentine's Day!