“Love is a wonderful thing.” –Michael Bolton
“Love hurts.” –Nazareth
“Love is strange.” –Mickey and Sylvia
“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” –Forrest Gump
I suppose that everyone has their own definition of love. It really depends on their individual experiences, good and bad, with love.
For the ultimate definiton of love, we often turn to “The Love Chapter” of the Bible, I Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” –I Cor. 13:4-8a
This passage always challenges me, sometimes one aspect more than another. Right now I’m particularly challenged by the concept that love “is not self-seeking.” Ouch! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of expecting the people who I love and who love me to treat me exactly as I want to be treated, all the time. I want them to read my mind and shower me with attention and affection (or, at other times, leave me alone).
And when that doesn’t happen, I start to wonder if my loved ones really love me. Oh, I’m sure they do–but sometimes I don’t feel very loved. This is not limited to my earthly loved ones; sometimes I don’t feel very loved by God, either.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t love me, or that He doesn’t love me. It means that I’m defining love on my own terms, rather than on God’s. Often, it means that I’m too busy focusing on what I want (i.e., seeking my own) rather than on how God wants me to love those in my life.
I find that when I make a conscious effort to put aside my own selfish expectations and accept God’s love, and the love of His people, without question, then I’m much more at peace and relaxed. When I seek to love others without wondering if or how they will return that love, then I have a better grasp of what love truly is.