It’s beautiful, isn’t it? This picture is like something straight out of a fairytale. As I made my way around this beautiful garden, I began to think about how amazing it would be to share this with someone.
These desires inspired me to write about something that is very much everything— true love. True love isn’t about finding Prince Charming; true love is God Himself. It’s in every breath we take, every flower that blooms, the trees, the wind, the sunlight, the rain. I’ve been praying for the last week about this post, and I’ve been asking God to reveal to me what He wants me to say about this topic, about Him.
I’m a perfectionist, an idealist, a dreamer. For many years, I had this particular vision of love; one might even call it a fairytale. I believe in true love, though not necessarily fairytale love. Fairytale love is picturesque and dreamlike, emotional. True love is sober: a logical, rational choice to love someone, unconditionally, for better or for worse— the way Christ loves us. I once believed true love looked like this picture perfect scene.
True love is more about God than it’ll ever be about you or me. It’s not about sweaty palms, butterflies, or cloud nine. “Love” without God isn’t really love; it can be reduced to nothing more than chemical reactions taking place in our bodies, making us think we are “in love”. “Love” without God is just dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin. Our brains will be flooded with these chemicals for a short while, but like all drugs, we become somewhat used to it and need higher doses to maintain that feeling. That’s when reality sets in, and often times the break up, the divorce, or infidelity happens. Unless God is at the center of your relationship, being “in love” is nothing but a fairytale! You see, God is love. You cannot be in love without being in God.
We can only give to others what we already have inside of us. The love we have inside of us can only come from love Himself.
God is love, but love is not God. The belief that God is this impersonal concept rather than an omniscient being, is true deception, and it has inundated our society these days. When you make love a god, then the fairytale becomes much more desirable. You begin to chase the concept of love instead of love Himself, Christ.
So how do we know for certain that we cannot be in love without knowing God? The Word speaks for itself—you cannot read God’s definition of love without realizing it’s truth.
Love is patient and kind. It does not boast or envy. It’s not rude or arrogant. It does not insist on its own way. It’s not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
There are a few key points we can take away from this scripture.
1. Love is sacrificial and not self-seeking.
2. Love does not compete.
3. Love does not fear.
4. Love is not conditional.
5. Love is eternal.
True love is about sacrifice. The truest love that ever existed took the form of a man dying a brutal death to save humanity from an eternity without God. That is anything but picturesque.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This verse is talking about sacrifice. It’s saying that no greater love exists than putting someone else’s needs above your own. Think of a mother’s love for her child. It’s sacrificial. Most mothers would gladly give up their own lives for their child’s. (literally and figuratively) She sacrifices her own body and her comfort before the child is even born. She gives birth, enduring the worst pain most people will ever experience and then spends the next 18-20 years giving her time, energy, and resources to provide, nurture, and thus love. This is why we say the love a mother has for her child is one of, if not the, strongest love that exists on earth. This type of love is a reflection of Christ’s love for us—He who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Love is patient and kind. Patience and kindness is not always easy. Often times, it’s a sacrifice we choose to make. We don’t have to spend our time or resources on people to show them love. We reflect the love of Christ when we choose to be kind to others, treating them with dignity and respect regardless of whether or not it’s returned. This is love.
It’s easy to be kind to people who are kind in return. True love is about sacrifice—true love is about loving everyone, even those who are difficult to love, even those who have no love in them to give back to us.
We cannot properly love anyone in a romantic sense until we get this part right. True love is sacrificial. True love is not self seeking. True love is not about ourselves; it’s about others.
When we understand what true love looks like, we are better equipped to choose someone to share our lives with who also understands true love. True love isn’t about being a doormat. You don’t choose to be with someone who won’t make sacrifices for you in return. There’s a difference between showing love to a person and making the choice to share your life with them. We are called to love everyone, but sometimes we have to love people from afar.
True love does not compete. True love is not arrogant. It does not boast; it does not envy. True love keeps no record of wrongs. True love truly forgives.
I heard something the other night, and it truly changed my life. I was scrolling social media, and someone said “You’re only as good as how you treat others when you’re angry with them.” I had to put down my phone after that, because that one thing right there absolutely struck me. I began to think about how I treat people when I’m angry with them. The truth is, how we treat people when we’re angry with them is a great way to measure the degree of love we have inside of us and how well we show that love to others. How we treat others isn’t always about our actions towards them, either. How we treat others is made manifest in our thoughts and feelings toward them as well. Do we wish them well? Do we harbor resentment? Do we delight in seeing them happy?
There’s no fear in true love. Love is about faith, having hope in all things.
True love is unconditional and eternal; it does not end. There’s a distinction I want to make here. Marriage, friendships, relationships are not unconditional nor are they necessarily eternal, but love is. If a man were to be unfaithful to me or a friend were to betray me, our relationship would be forever changed. Would I still love the person? Yes, but the type of love may very well change. Likewise, our relationship with God is not unconditional or necessarily eternal either. If we choose to shut God out, He allows us to, but His love is eternal and unconditional.
I came to the realization of something the other day—most people on this earth will one day leave it without ever having experienced true love. It’s sad but true. What we see when we look at most people in relationships may look like love from the outside, but it’s just a mirage. The closer it is to resembling a fairytale, the more people on the outside tend to believe it’s love.
Only a small percentage of people will ever experience genuine love from another person. It’s only the people who chase God with their whole hearts that will know, thus be able to give and receive, true love.
True love between a man and a woman is the closest thing on earth anyone can ever experience to the type of love between Christ and the church. In fact, marriage is meant to be an earthly representation, the ultimate earthly representation of this type of love.
Though the love a parent has for their child is undoubtedly one of the strongest forms of love on earth and is a reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love for us, it still exists in a category separate from the type of love that God intended to exist between a husband and wife. However, it’s the closest thing some of us will ever experience to true love. This is genuine love, of course, but it’s a type of love that’s ingrained in us to a degree; it’s experienced almost by default. Further, though the love between children and their parents never dies, we are all meant to physically separate from our parents when we reach maturity. This differs from our relationship with God who we were never meant to separate from. It also differs from our relationship with our spouse whom we are only meant to separate from in death.
When man and woman marry, they become one flesh. The only separation approved by God is when one spouse chooses to separate the other, leaving the other spouse no other choice. This separation can take the form of infidelity (becoming one flesh with another person) or literally ending the relationship. This type of love, is a mirror image of Christ’s love for His church because He will never leave us unless we shut Him out or “divorce” Him by our own free will.
Choosing to stand by your spouse each and every day is not easy. We have the ability, the option to divorce and find another one. It’s in choosing to stand by someone even when it’s difficult and not picture-perfect, even when we are angry, even when they offend us, even when we aren’t naturally inclined to, even when we could choose to divorce them and never see them again, we can know a very special, very unique, and very rare form of true love.
So when does true love happen? I’ve found myself asking this question a lot lately. “When, God? When will it be my turn? Will I ever find someone to share my life with?”
The thing about God is He will often answer us in scripture. Every time I ask these questions, I remember: Love is patient. Love is within and all around me. It’s eternal; it never fails, never ends.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness, and everything else will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
It’s time to let go of the fairytale. True love isn’t about living happily ever after with your soulmate. Women aren’t made complete when awakened by a kiss or the frog turns into a prince. True love is on the inside of us because we were made in the image of true love Himself.
Marriages depend on true love; without it, the relationship will suffer and is prone to fail. True love, on the other hand, is not dependent on a romantic partner. True love is all around us and inside of us. Marriage is about two imperfect people coming together in union, bonded together by God, who is true love Himself. Though both people are imperfect, they are made whole when they realize their need for a perfect savior not when finding one another. It’s not about two halves coming together to make a whole, but two wholes coming together to make a pair. This is the gift called true love.
I took one last look around the garden before heading back to my car. I saw the flowers that were coming into bloom, the trees and their branches swaying in the wind, the sunlight glistening off of the water. That’s when it hit me—I am truly in love; I am in God, and God is within me. What an amazing day it was to share it with Him.