One of the things that is both frustrating and fascinating to me is how bad we tend to be at loving. We really think we love people even when we are destroying them. Or we have very loving feelings towards people who experience us as aloof, uninterested and disapproving. We say that another’s happiness means more to us than our own and then make them miserable by trying to impose our preferences and vision for how they should find happiness on them. Just over and over again, we do things which hurt those we purport to love and then get upset with them should they have the nerve to say, “you’re hurting me!”
I came across a post today on the blog “The Registered Runaway” that I want to share with you. We’ve all heard that love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. But this writer starts with an even better idea: love is an ability. IOW, it’s a skill we have to learn and develop. It seems to me that we are so bad at loving in part because of our old issue of not ever wanting to be wrong. We want to think that we know how to love when we’ve never put in the time and effort it takes to unlearn our mistaken ideas about love and learn how to do it well. So in the interest of education, I’d like to share a few choice excerpts from this lovely blog post “Love is an Ability”:
Most of the time, an ability is not given, it is grown. You have to feed it and nourish it and work like hell to make sure it thrives through each and every season. Love is no different.
I am convinced that saying you love someone doesn’t count as love. I am also convinced that willing your mind to love someone that you’ve never reached out and touched, doesn’t add up to much. . .
You cannot love someone until you know someone and there is a clear-cut difference between knowing of someone and really knowing someone. You can put people on pedestals, but you can’t love them until you know them. You can leave the word love as the lasting residue of your rant, but you don’t love the folks you’re talking about, not really. . .
Love surrenders its shoulders to runny noses. It holds no pre-requisite for its remedies and it does not ask for that which is inappropriate. It comes without strings and is abundant in grace. It just wants to sit, just wants to listen, just wants to nod and stay until you’ve said all you need to say.
Love doesn’t dip into your past like a paintbrush to create an idea of who you must be today. Love asks questions and honors how far you have come. Love doesn’t whisper about you- it converses with you. The most unloving words can be said in the name of love . . .
Love dwells. It doesn’t stop by on its own terms and convenience. Love is born into the dumpster of poverty. It snuggles with the shipwrecked instead of rolling with royalty. It goes off the map into dangerous territory because there’s a woman at a well that needs to know something. Love selflessly dies for those indifferent to its sacrifice. It rises three days later, because it never ever fails.
Love is engagement. It is entering into polar opposite worlds. . .
Growing in love is messy and exhausting and tedious. But little by little it gets easier. Our jagged edges get sanded down. After all the stumbling and tumbling and screw-ups along the way, it will become an essential part of how we live. We will experience it in one another without thinking or trying. We will live to love. Truly.
I would encourage you to head over to read the whole thing . . . and leave a word of encouragement to the anonymous writer.
I think I’m going to make this a thing around here – exploring what love actually looks and acts like. So we can work on developing our skill at doing it*. Perhaps this is part of the real mystery of the Christian faith – that God would take so much time, demand so much devotion, endure so much grief over us. To deal with and get us to finally admit that we don’t really know how to do this most basic of things – love. So maybe if we can finally admit our lack and learn to not just feel love, but do love and live love, then God who is love will truly be with us.
*(If you have something you think would be good for this, feel free to email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)