During the holidays, we generally tend to express sentiments that reflect or characterize the meaning of the occasion to those around us. During Thanksgiving, we reflect and are thankful to God for all of our many blessings, during the 4th of July we shoot off fireworks to commemorate the founding of the nation, and during Christmas we rejoice and exchange gifts as a re-enactment of the joy expressed at Christ’s birth. This holiday is no different.
The origin of the holiday is not the issue for the sake of this blog, but the sentiment of love is the issue. What is love? It is a word that is tossed around so loosely and with such a lack of care that many times we tend to lose track of its true meaning. If we don’t properly identify love, then we won’t be able to reciprocate it when it is being shown to us, nor can we initiate it, nor will we be able to recognize a counterfeit version of love.
The Source of Love (God)
Before we can answer the question of what love is, we must first understand that love is abstract: an intangible concept. It has meaning but we can’t go to the store and buy a bottle of “love.” However, we can illustrate loves qualities so that the untouchable can become visible.
Agape is the Greek word that is always used to describe the God kind of love (the highest form of love.) Agape gives and sacrifices for the betterment of others with no strings attached. It isn’t concerned with money, status, health, beauty, geographical location, your behavior, your attitude, your profession, height, weight, or anything else. It is only genuinely concerned about the well-being of others with no expectation of payment in return. It gives selflessly, not selfishly. Now that is the love that God shows towards us, and it is the same love that He wants for us to shows to others. Have you ever told someone that you loved them, but you didn’t treat them according to “agape” love? You got mad at them for how they treated you? You got an attitude because you did the right thing and you were disrespected in return? If your answer is yes, then you didn’t love them to the highest degree, because your love had conditions. Your love said, “I’ll tolerate you until I am tired of you,” “I will forgive you if you apologize and buy me a present,” “I’ll be nice, if you are nice to me,” “don’t do me wrong and I won’t have an attitude.” That is not love; that is conditional or situational tolerance.
Love isn’t just saying “I love you.” Those are just words that anyone can say. But true love gives and sacrifices itself. There is no sacrifice in words or promises. True love is the action that fulfills those promises. Once we realize how much our Heavenly Father truly loves us and how much He wants us to act like Him, only then will we be able to return that same affection to Him. When we do that, then our eyes will be opened to see things the way He intended them to be and not as they are. Truth always trumps reality, even when we are too blind to see it. All of this, in turn, will lead us into the next step: loving ourselves.
The Identity of Love (for self)
Once we identify with true love, which comes from God, we can then begin to incorporate that same love into our own lives and begin applying it to ourselves. When we begin to love ourselves, our own outlook on our careers, dating, relationships, lives, etc. will change for the better.
Like I said before, love has our best interest at heart with no strings attached. So show the world that you have your own best interests at heart. Treat yourself out to a good time; be confident in who you are; be secure in your independence; focus on your relationship with the Heavenly Father above any other relationship; set out to establish and accomplish your goals and dreams; separate yourself from people who aren’t supportive and are a distraction to you; and discipline yourself to make sure that you stay on course. Too often we let the most ancillary things derail us from moving forward with the bigger picture.
When a woman loves herself, everyone can see it on her face. She is strong and confident with an undeniable aura about her that confirms who she is. She doesn’t settle for less by dating, marrying, or making excuses for irresponsible little boys. She respects herself too much to be a babysitter to an adult male. She doesn’t want to have to tell the male that she is with to pull up his pants, to walk straight, to comb his hair or to brush his teeth. She works too hard on her job to waste money on a man that doesn’t want to find a real and consistent job. She has established her own credit and doesn’t want to throw it all away on a male that wants to use her good name since he can’t get his own mobile phone, car or place to stay. She wants to be with a man who can lead, protect and be accountable. A monkey can make a baby; a real woman wants security, reassurance, and provision. Her standards have transcended her childish high school level of thought. But there are many adult males that are on that novice level of thought and living, and for some reason, they always seem to have an insecure female around.
Loneliness and her biological clock are not substantive reasons enough to give her most prized possession, herself, to a male who isn’t worth it. This woman knows what true love is, and a woman who knows true love won’t settle for a man who doesn’t. A responsible woman in her 30’s or 40’s won’t settle for anything but the best. Why should she? Any man who is worth anything wants a virtuous woman who loves God and herself. Why? If she loves God and loves herself, then, and only then is she ready to love her man.
The Gift of Love (for others)
Consider love as a gift from God. It is a gift from Him to you, and then once you receive it, He wants you to share it with others. That is when people are ready to find their spouse. They won’t waste their time dating a bunch of people because the effervescence of love radiates off of a person that knows true love. These people have it and they attract love. People who love are calm and peaceful. They are still human and prone to err, but love is their guide.
My neighbor was married to the same woman for 75 years. They had a relationship that was unreal. I imagine they had disagreements, but you could still see the love in their eyes. The wife was the first one to pass of the 90 year old couple and her husband was devastated. That was the first time I ever saw him cry, and when he did, I knew that a part of him died; and a few years later he died.
That was the most loving couple that I ever knew and the entire neighborhood felt the genuine love that they shared. They gave love because they had love; and that is a good lesson for this time of the year when many people celebrate love: you have to know it, in order to have it, in order to give it.
You have to be connected to the Source of love (God). Once you are connected, that’s when you can truly love yourself. When you love God first and then yourself, you can automatically love others. Think of it in terms of a radio; the antenna gets the reception, the plug gets the power, and the speakers give off the sound. The antenna receives God’s love to you, the plug empowers you to love Him and yourself, and the speakers allow it to be shared with others.
So, are you in love? Are you ready to love?
Brian Ganges is a native New Jerseyan who resides in Texas. He has written many articles that are very thought provoking, principled, informative and insightful. His topics of interest include: current events, politics, health related topics, economics, relationships, and principles for daily living; which are always from a Christian worldview. He is one of the co-authors of the award-winning anthology "The Soul of a Man." Brian is currently working on his debut book entitled "Piecing The Puzzle Together," to be released Spring 2010.
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