Love is the one force that cannot be explained, cannot be broken down into a chemical process. It is the beacon that guides us back home when no one is there, and the light that illuminates our loss. Its absence robs us of all pleasure of our capacity for joy. It makes our nights darker and our days gloomier. But when we find love no matter how wrong, how sad, or how terrible we cling to it. It gives us our strength. It holds us upright. It feeds on us and we feed on it. Love is our grace. Love is our downfall.
Abraham Setrakian, S1.Ep1: Night Zero
A few years ago, after one of my many attempts at falling in love and being in a relationship, for two years my only resolution was to know what love is. For long my definition of love was derived from pop culture(#RelationshpGoals), fairy tales (happily ever afters), past experiences and stories and my fantasies.
What is love? In her song, The Question, Vanessa Obunde asks, ” is it a feeling you can’t get enough of? Or that person that you think of when you’re in need of attention?” I like to believe that it can be that and so much more. But whatever definition we give to love, if Jesus is not in it, it isn’t love. As Rev Jay once said during a 3 p.m. service I attended at All Saints Cathedral. I have held onto this line of thought because 1 John 4:16 teaches us that God is Love. Meaning if I want to understand Love and know Love, I have to know God.
For a long time, I defined love as sex and physical intimacy. The feelings of longing to be loved and desperation bombarded with the knowledge I had, about how sex was an emotional activity for them, I mistook and used sex to feel loved. Justification. She loves me enough to have sex with me. I had sought relief from painful primal feelings and found temporary respite that I imagined and considered to be love. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, I was drinking water that didn’t quench the emotional hunger and strong dependency needs. God created us and placed a longing in us for Him, a longing that only He can truly satisfy. Out of us, streams of life, start to flow.
Which brings me to a rule of happiness – read lie – I had for love. I had convinced myself that I would only start loving myself once someone got interested in me. Which is the equivalent of me going to a playground and seating on the sea-saw and waiting for another kid to come and then I start having fun. Damn! Right?
We can not accept love from another human being when we do not love ourselves, much less accept that a transcendent God could love us.
That is why Christ has invited us to a greater standard and level. We are to love others as we love ourselves. And believe me, I know we all love ourselves. Greed and selfishness are inherent to who we are. Love is a fruit of the Spirit and not the flesh. You and I love and are compelled to love because of Christ’s love for us. When we truly get to understand that nothing can ever separate us from God’s Love, we are filled and renewed from the inside out. We can now go out in the world and love everyone because we all have inherent value and are loved by God. I can now go to the playground and go for the swing and have fun all by my lonesome. Should someone come along to give me a push, it would be merrier.
Love is so much more than what we know and I pray we have our minds renewed and paradigms challenged and shift and become more like what we read in 1 Corinthians 13. To turn those adjectives into verbs. To better understand love, we have to be connected to the source. As Roy lessin put it:
“Every attribute of God is an attribute of Love, expression of God an expression of Love, every word of God a word of Love, every gift of God a gift of Love, every choice of God a choice of love.
So, this Valentine’s Day, I hope you don’t limit your love to only your better halves, crushes, imaginary partners. Love is not only found in eros relationships. But also do not wait for 14/2 to show your loved ones that you care. Like a good friend always says, it makes no sense to make a big deal out of one day in the year to show love and then slack off on the other days.
Be intentional about spending time with family and being present (physically, mentally and emotionally), invest in making memories with them, learn their love languages and love them better. Relationships take time, and we all have 365 days to work with. To be treated as a customer you have to be consistent and loyal.
My Valentine’s Day plans are the same as those of any other day, spend as much time with my family and friends, take selfies and pictures, laugh with them, watch shows and do activities that I may not necessarily enjoy but they do. But most importantly remind them just how immensely they are loved. Keep falling in love with myself, and loving ALL of me, because the better I love myself the better I can love others.
I will close with an extract from Vanessa Obunde’s Song:
“Emotions are temporary And our feelings leave little room for mercy Cause when you’re done you’re done When you want someone better have what you’re demanding See how we’ve messed up relationships True love’s the reality That life’s about discomfort We don’t know what love is Till we’ve held His hands and felt the depths of His scars How deep the Father’s love for us How vast beyond all measure The He would give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure”