Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What does love do when . . .

We were friends in junior high and the beginning of high school before he transferred.  He had broken glasses held together by tape and was awkward and bullied.  He thought he was stupid and worthless because he got bad grades and had a complicated home life.  He needed a friend.  He wrote me letters, and I wrote back.  We signed them in this silly way . . . 

I think I was the only person he'd ever interacted with on this level, which is why he told me some things that make me wish I could go back in time and do what I should have done (told someone else, an adult, an authority, someone who could have helped him and maybe saved him some trouble).

When he transferred away, I broke school rules to give him a hug.  I heard that he got really good grades at his new, public school, which made sense, since our school was much harder and more advanced.  That gave him some much-needed confidence, and I thought maybe things would turn out okay for him.

Later, I found out he married one of my other friends from high school, a girl who started attending after he left, a casual, lunch-table friend who told us that she would never believe in Jesus because of all the people at our private Christian school who said they did and treated her and other awkward outsiders like crap.  She always told us that we were an exception (and didn't say we were not enough of an exception to blot out the norms) and that we shouldn't blame ourselves for her Jesus-phobia.  I didn't blame myself.  I understood that logic and arguments can't force anyone to believe in Jesus.

When I heard they were married, I didn't know what to think.  Years later, they divorced, and it was messy.  Now he's tracked me down online, and he really wants to renew our friendship.  He is lonely and desperate.  He needs friends and help.

I am hesitant.  I've had some bad luck with adult men pursuing me for ulterior motives, and I don't really want to break any more hearts.  That couldn't possibly help him.  He's hurting enough.  Not to mention that now that I'm an adult, I am more legally responsible for anything he tells me.

I don't really know what love does in situations like this.  Do you have any advice?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good, Bad, Ugly (Love)

I am thinking about dating/marriage, specifically about that bad-good relationship.  It's that "good" girl loves the "bad" boy or the "good" boy loves the "bad" girl.  I've seen it happen before, and it's all over novels and movies.  Have you read Hosea?  These kinds of relationships are really hellish.

Anyway, it occurred to me that Hosea should make me pay attention more.  God had the prophet marry and be faithful to and try to redeem the kind of woman most people would call hopeless and beyond redemption.  He did this to show us what His relationship to us is like. 

I know, I know, in context, He's specifically addressing the nation of Israel at the time.  But we're told the church is His bride, and I think we're very much like the ridiculous beloved turning away from all the undeserved love given by the lover and pursuing things that are seriously bad for us in one way or another.  The general story seems to apply.

Really, these relationships are nightmarish, and they usually don't end well.  But God wants one with every person on this earth.  Just think about that. 

I mean, yes, He's infinite and all-powerful and such, but I can't even imagine surviving one relationship like Hosea's, and Hosea didn't have the burden of being all-knowing.  I mean, he didn't know everything his wife thought and felt, every sin she committed.  How much heartache and heartbreak can one person's love overcome?

That's how much He loves us.  Even though these relationships are heart-wrenching to go through, and even though most of them don't end with salvation and redemption, God loves us that much.

That love is not an emotion.  It can't be.

"Love one another as I have loved you."

And the hardest part is that this even this love does not conquer all because when beings with wills collide, there's no guarantee of a happy ending.  We can choose wrong over and over again until we're out of time, and then we pay the price.  Not everyone accepts grace and salvation.  Not every beloved chooses to respond to the lover and be changed.  But our response doesn't change His love for us, as shown by His actions.

"While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly."

It really makes me think.

What about you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

This year's obsession: love

Did you know that in the original Greek, I Corinthians 13:4-7 is a big old list of verbs?  Not love IS but love DOES.  This makes sense to me.

I wonder why it wasn't translated as a list of adverbs (love acts patiently, etc.), not that they're much better. 

Love is action.  We show our love by what we do.

"Love is not emotion.  Love affects the emotions."

"God commands us to love.  He is not telling us what to feel but what to do."

I want to love God and others the way I'm supposed to.  It is a lifted burden to hear it confirmed that God is not telling me that I'm always supposed to feel patient, kind, gentle, etc., because I can't. 

It is, of course, another kind of burden entirely to figure out how to act patiently, gently, kindly, when, say, my incompetent boss is clearly and totally being ridiculous and causing me and others trouble.  And another to figure out where honesty fits in here. 

I like to be too honest; it cause more pain than it needs to.  How do I reconcile how I feel with how I'm supposed to act, and how do I keep my integrity? 

As I get older, I find myself even less tolerant of masks.  I prefer blunt honesty (in theory) (possibly because I don't get much of it in practice).  God demands honesty from us, I think.  He knows us better than we know ourselves, so there's absolutely nothing we can hide from Him and much He can reveal to us if we're being honest and open.  Lying just doesn't work.

So how do I love AND be honest?  There is likely no perfect balance because the world is fallen, and people are broken, and things don't work right here anymore.  How shall we then live? 

Someone told me that I seem obsessed with the meanings of words, and I'd like to nominate love as this year's obsession.  It's the highest commandment, and the second is like it: love.  In the end, it's what remains.  It's what matters most now.  I should be obsessing about it.  How do I make my actions love?

I would like it if you'd join me and throw out any thoughts you have on the topic as we go.  Quotes are great, if you come across any good ones.  I love stories, too, so please narrate times you get things right (feel free to tell them as stories you heard from friends or saw someone else do if that's more comfortable for you).  I love good, practical examples of love in action (as opposed to love inaction, I suppose).

How have you loved or been loved or seen love done right so far this year?

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Which is the stronger drive: sex or identity?"

We're starting off the year with a quote and question to ponder.  

"When you think someone is beautiful and awesome, is it because you admire them and want to be like them, or because you're attracted to them and want to have sex with them? Which is the stronger drive: sex or identity?"

I 'd be interested in your answers for this from
  1. childhood
  2. junior high & high school
  3. the present 
(How) Has your answer changed?  (Why or why not?)