I was recently in a conversation with a person who was experiencing significant relational tensions. I entered the conversation with a curious ear in order to explore the deeper parts of their soul. The conversation eventually highlighted an interesting discovery.
This person defined relationships, and therefore love, by what they received and didn’t receive. I heard phrases like, “They don’t seem to love me because they refuse to give me _____”, “All I need from them is______”, and “I just want them to give me_____ and they won’t give it to me.” The insight that this person defined love by what they get was a powerful revelation for them.
It’s caused me to be curious about our unconscious definition of love. We all enter relationships with expectations about what we want from it, but do we consider what we can give? When we think about our deepest love relationships, do they exist because of what we get or what we give?
Love is interestingly diverse in its experience. The truth is, there are many of you reading this that would say, for you, love is all about what you give. You find life and purpose in the love that you give others on a daily basis. Your relationships are defined by the love you share.
The opposite is true for others of you reading. Love, for you, is about what you receive. You know love, feel love, and experience love or don’t know it, feel it, or experience it by what you receive or don’t receive. Your relationships rise and fall on what you get from them.
It’s human nature, really, to categorize and define our experience of love. To try to contain a supernatural mysterious force into a box small enough for us to understand. But, what if instead of thinking outside the box on this one, we just throw away the box entirely?
I started with a question, Love: Is it giving or getting? What if that’s the wrong question? What if discovering the deeper mystery about love is not about categorizing or defining it through how we give or receive it?
What if in throwing away the box we use to define love we sought a more wide open space to explore? John, one of Jesus’ closest friends told us that, “God is Love.” What if love is someone and not something?
Jesus’ spent his 33 years on earth personifying God. He lived a life of love, because He is love. He was love in human form through every big and small interaction, conversation, and relationship.
Love, then, is not defined by giving or getting, it’s defined through the very life Jesus lived on this earth. He entered every relationship fully present in love and fully alive to love. Love flowed from Him so freely and effortlessly, because He is love.
We want to define love as it centers on us. Maybe instead of trying to categorize it, define it, and give or get it, we create some space to develop a relationship with Love. Intimacy with love itself will certainly open us to deeper experiences giving and getting love from others.
My curiosity about the way we define love has led me back to the source, God. I realize that regardless to how we categorize or define love, it is a supernatural mysterious force that is God Himself. Every definition, category, description about what it is, what it does, or how it makes us feel is our way of describing God.
As we develop intimacy with God and know Him for who He really is, we find ourselves closer and closer to the source of Love. Love will flow freely from us. We can be fully present in love and fully alive to love and be loved in all our relationships.