Last week I posted a joint blog post between my friend and myself about my last eight months in youth group, but one of the proposed topics, actually proposed by me, was unconditional love. Today was pretty rough for me for reasons I’ll keep to myself, and I think this is a good time for me to write about it. This post though will go beyond unconditional love though into my deep love for certain things. Some of this will probably sound familiar, but alas, I will write it again.
What does unconditional love entail? I’d say one thing. God. That’s all. Case closed. Blog over. Not really, but that’s the short answer. God, as a literal entity comprised of love, he can’t be anything but loving of his children. We are not that way. As a human race, we hate and we destroy and we molest and trample over everything. In SPITE of that, God loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. It’s like a parent’s love, but without the flaws.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I don’t think any words I can write, or anyone can write, can do that justice. Even the adulterer and murderer and thief are loved by God. He wants nothing but the best for us. We lose sight of that so often though, myself included. I felt today remarkably unloved, but in those moments of weakness, I was reminded that wallowing in it would do me no good. I remembered ultimately that God loves me. It’s a love that feels differently than other love, because he doesn’t have physical arms to wrap around us. He can’t go to Wal-Mart and buy us a new phone because he loves us. He doesn’t send a booming voice from the sky to recite a love poem to us. But there are different ways he can show us his love. He can speak to us through his Word, the Bible. He can comfort us with his arms and feet, or the Church. Not the building, but the people comprising it. He can save our souls and remind us that no matter what we endure on this earth, there is a reward in Heaven. Love is so much more than a tingling in our bosoms. Love can manifest that way, but it isn’t the only way. The way I can see this unconditional love manifest is in my own character. My ability to forgive, to keep peace, to hope. The peace of mind that no matter what I do, God loves me, and forgives me, and WANTS me! That’s ultimately what it is. That peace of mind. That doesn’t entail staying calm and not bending against the wind. It means bending and returning to where it was before. I think that God’s unconditional love for me and all his children also starts with loving yourself, through God’s eyes. I am unique, and special, and blessed beyond measure, and when I feel and realize those things, I feel God’s unconditional love. His love won’t come in a tingling bosom. Alcohol and sugar and countless other things can do that. His love will come in a mindset and a way of life that will be unlike any other persons’. That’s a fact.
I don’t want to discredit the physical feelings of love though. The love of God is special; it has it’s own word in Greek. Agape is the word. Agape is its own thing, but other kinds of love are also important.
“30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
This basically sums up the other three words for love in Greek. Eros, for your spouse, philia for your close friends and family, and storge for basically everyone else. Storge is for parent’s love for their kids, but was used more often as a “put up with it” kind of love, or basically respect. It’s the kind of love you might give to your enemies, because they too are children of God and are worthy of love. The point is, however, that a burning bosom should symbolize not love of God necessarily, but of your neighbors, which is God-honoring. For me, this is like my nicotine, and a lot of people’s nicotine. People get absorbed in it and think that that is all there is. They associate love with that kind of feeling, and you don’t love it if you don’t get that feeling. I might have gone too far to say it’s MY nicotine, but it’s more like that other half of love. I have a difficulty with expressing love for my neighbor deeply because this world punishes that so hard. It’s beaten out of me, and my guess is that it’s been beaten out of a lot of people. Open profession of love for friends is something I struggle with, but so badly want to do. I’ve written about it in my journal. I don’t want to name names, but I SO DO!!! It’s my greatest struggle right now. Being honest with those people. I’m not lying to them, but I’m not being completely honest with them, because I don’t share my love for them through words. Maybe through actions, maybe, but I’m a very words oriented person, and I need to hear/say things IN ADDITION to know whether something is true. That’s just the way I am.
That all being said, now I want to express my love more profusely and generically. I really love people. No matter how often I complain about how stupid people are, because we really are, though I think that’s a different story, I LOVE people. People may think I’m strange, but I love to watch and listen to people. It hurts a little when people speak crassly or act dishonorably, but I just like to watch people be people. There’s beauty in it. I like to look at all people’s bodies and faces (not perverted). I mean, this is a little shallow, but I do like looking at the attractive people more, but I ultimately like to do it to look at who they are. Everyone is unique. They’re hand crafted by God to be who they are. Not to say they’re perfect, but every freckle, hair, crooked nose, abnormally small ears, large belly, six pack, everything. God loves them all, why shouldn’t I? Like I would just study people’s faces if I could, because they’re so interesting. Sorry friends, but I may have already done it to you through Facebook pictures or some other means. But yeah, there is my creepy weird looking at people hobby.Similarly, and this is something I’ve written about in my post The Giver, I love watching the cultural habits and interactions of people. People laughing and enjoying life and all of that. I. Love. It. Seriously, when The Giver comes out on DVD, I will make all my friends watch it with me just so I can blow my love bomb up all over them. I love the human experience.
I love the night time so freaking much. For me, that is when I am most in touch with myself and with God. I don’t know what it is exactly, but if I talk to you at night time, there is probably a 75% chance you’ll get one incredibly deep comment or conversation out of me, if not more. I bear my soul out at night, even with nobody to give it to. I guess it goes to God. But let’s see what I really love about night. It is so simple/free. There aren’t the distractions that come with daily life like traffic and people and activities and all that. It’s quiet, and all there is to do is think and talk among yourself and whoever you’re with, odds are your close friends. But in that limitation is the entire world, left entirely to your imagination. So often I just start thinking about everything I’ve written thus far and what will follow this sentence. I think about my loved ones and God and just love. I just overflow with love at night, which leads me to say a lot of things at night. On top of that simplicity and freedom is the beauty. I love sunsets and sunrises, but night time has some of the most beautiful scenes ever. This goes hand in hand with the simplicity, but it just leaves you to marvel at the world. Whether I’m in Times Square or in the Rocky Mountains, everything just becomes a thousand times more beautiful for me. I fantasize of so many different scenarios, and 99% of them occur at night. And don’t interpret that wrongly, I mean that entirely clean of innuendo or any of that junk. Picture all of these with your closest friends, at night in the best conditions. Star gazing in a field. Sitting around a bonfire on the beach. At a campground surrounded by trees around a lantern. On the couch around a fireplace. In the bed of a truck at the drive-in theater. Walking down the street intermittently broken by streetlights, but no cars are coming by, like walking through a ghost of the world. Driving on a desert highway in a convertible with music playing. These few have happened for me, but lying on a trampoline in a “cuddle puddle” where everyone’s legs and bodies are in one giant blob. Its so much better than it sounds. Dancing to your favorite music and getting all hot and sweaty then stepping outside and instantly being cooled. Pulling up a chair along the river bank and watching the lights from the houses on the other shore, and watching for small beaver heads bobbing out of the water. Cruising down a river on a pontoon boat. A pool party. Sitting on a cinder block wall right outside your house. Sitting on the porch (not being eaten by mosquitos). Now I think I and others could bring more to the table, but my heart aches for all of those. I want to do those so badly. The beauty of night is just astounding to me. It’s when I’m most productive and in tune with everything. I’m in love with the thought. Words don’t do feelings justice, because despite this massive paragraph, I still don’t feel I’ve scratched the surface of how much I love the night. Even so, I’ll stop that for now.
Music is also on my love list, because there is so much music that just makes my heart melt. Anything by Carrie Underwood, plus a million more things. You can search around my other posts for clues to that, but I will say that my playlist is my playlist for a reason. I love laughing. I consider myself funny, hopefully others do too, but I love making other people laugh, and laughing myself. I firmly believe in the saying that laughter is the best medicine. Maybe not for something like diabetes or a cold, but it is the cure to a lousy day or a bad attitude, and a positive attitude trumps the worst disease. That’s one thing I hope to accomplish with my life. Bring the gift of laughter to as many people as I can.
I’ll just finish this with saying that I love love. By that standard, since God is love, I love God, and all he’s given to me. The good the bad and the ugly. Most of all, I love that he is overflowing love, and by extension, I am overflowing love.