So… What Exactly Is Love?

 

roses

Ah, Valentine’s Day. This is the first Valentine’s day that I actually have a “valentine” (gasp!). And while it’s a wonderful feeling, it’s also very new, since every year in Valentines’ past has been spent single as a pringle. I never really cared much, but last year I noticed my singleness on a new level. I was up at school, and while I watched many friends receive flowers and cards and sweet gestures, I specifically remember eating very dry jerk chicken in the cafeteria after studying all day in my room. And then I called home to say hi to my family, and heard about the fantastic steak dinner my dad had cooked for mom and Brittin, and came back to my apartment to find beautiful flowers on the table that my roommate’s boyfriend had given her. Believe me when I understand the phrase ‘single as a pringle’ on a deep level. That’s why it’s such a new feeling this year not being single as a pringle!

But whether you are single or not, I think it’s fair to say that most of us think at some point or another about what love actually is, perhaps especially when the day dedicated to love rolls around each year. Some people equate it with physical expressions. Others associate it with flowers and sweet cards or grand gestures. Those things are great, but I would argue that they are only the very surface level expressions of what love actually is. Love runs so much deeper than what Valentine’s day makes it out to be. And regardless of your relationship status, you can know what it is to be deeply loved and also know what it is to show others deep love. But first, you need to know what love truly is.

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

-1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

  • Love is patient. It doesn’t rush another if they’re taking awhile to open up. It doesn’t force it’s way in or press hard for answers if someone isn’t ready to give them. Love can withstand being annoyed and not blowing up on another. And sometimes, in some situations, love’s patience will even mean not saying “I love you” yet (even if you feel that you do) for the good of the other person.
  • Love is kind. It goes the extra mile to serve. It seeks out ways to make others’ lives easier. It speaks gently and with deep care; it listens actively and tries to understand. If you understand that the dishes aren’t mom’s favorite thing to do, love will do the dishes so she doesn’t have to. If you recognize that someone is having a bad day, you will take the time to ask how they are doing and to genuinely respond. Love is kind.
  • Love does not envy. It doesn’t look at what another person has and say “I wish that were mine”. Love means you are so focused on serving those around you that you don’t have time to be discontent or wish for things you don’t have.
  • Love does not boast. Because love has nothing to prove, it has no reason to flaunt itself. It knows that it is enough. Love doesn’t feel the need to show off or brag or be “better than” because it is too focused on making others feel like they are better than. It means you are so focused on making others feel like kings and queens that you have no time or desire to prove how great you are.
  • Love is not proud. It apologizes when it commits a wrong. It doesn’t mind if it’s actions for another go unrecognized or unthanked, because love doesn’t serve another in order to further it’s own agenda. Love means calmly talking things through and seeking to understand the other person’s viewpoint instead of asserting your own dominance.
  • Love does not dishonor others. Love has no time to tear others down (with or without them knowing) because love is too focused on lifting others up. Love edifies. Love encourages. Love speaks truth into dark places and reminds others of who they truly are. Love means you assume the best of others, and even when they disappoint you, you don’t emphasize their wrongs to them.
  • Love is not self-seeking. It goes to great lengths to focus on the other person’s needs instead of it’s own. Love sacrifices for another, even though it will likely cost something or be painful.
  • Love is not easily angered. It recognizes that people are human and will make mistakes, and is therefore quick to forgive. Love is recognizing that you have been forgiven, and is fast to extend that same forgiveness and grace to others, no matter how big or how hurtful the offense.
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs. That means not bringing up the past to try and win an argument. That means saying “I forgive you” and truly meaning it. That means not holding another’s offense against them ever again, no matter how much you might want to.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. In other words, love isn’t a feeling. It’s a verb. An action. A choice. And you can choose to show that kind of love to the people around you each and every day, whether or not you are in a relationship. In fact, I would challenge you to start choosing to go the extra mile and show genuine love to those around you, not just on Valentine’s day, but every day (how silly we go out of our way to make others feel special only once a year!).

And for those of you who are feeling ‘single as a pringle’ this year, I would encourage you with this:

No human love, no relationship, no romantic gesture, can EVER compare to how deeply the Lord feels for you.

I know it sounds cliche. I get it. I’ve been there. But it’s true; human relationships are a huge blessing, but they ultimately pale in comparison to the Lord’s constant pursuit of your heart. He has called you by name (Isaiah 43:1). He loves you with a perfect love (1 John 4:17-19). He knows everything there is to know about you (Psalm 139) and still chooses you first. My prayer for you is that your heart is opened to see His constant pursuit of you, in the beauty of the sunsets and sunrises, in the laughter of your child or best friend, in the small things of each and every day. I promise you, as good as human relationships are (and DANG is it worth waiting for God’s timing in those), they will still pale next to the beauty and vibrancy and consistency of God’s heart for you.

I guess that wraps up this year’s Valentine’s post! Whether you get to enjoy the day with someone special or are spending it like I spent mine last year, I hope you rest and revel in the Lord’s deep love for you and are inspired to let Him fill you to overflow so you spill that love onto each person around you.

Because love isn’t a feeling. Love is a verb. And you are very deeply loved. 

Happy Valentine’s Day friends!


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