Love is . . . ?
Love is a word people throw around a lot, especially this weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself asking what love really is. It seems pretty clear to me there is more than one kind of love. After all, I don’t love chocolate, my cat, and my parents in quite the same way. Nor do I love them in the way I would love a significant other. According to an article from psychology today, there are seven basic kinds of love. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love)
Some of these seven types remind me a bit of the Agape – Philia – Eros I was introduced to as a student at a strict Christian college. Agape was prized there, Eros was shunned, and Philia was undervalued. However, the word “love” got thrown around a lot, especially in a disciplinary context. I developed a disdain for it. “How can you love me?” I asked in my mind. “You don’t even know me. To you, I’m just a collection of stereotypes, an underling who doesn’t fit the mold of what you wish I was.” You can’t throw the word “love” around in the context of punishment and not confuse some people.
Since college, I’ve started to slowly unpack the baggage this word carries. I rejected the institution’s idea of love. I don’t find it biblical.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in lovehttps://www.biblica.com/bible/?osis=niv:1jn.4.18
So what is Christian love? Can we love those we don’t know? Aren’t Christians told to love their enemies? How does this all work? Yes, I’m still a bit confused. I believe that deep, true love requires really knowing someone and accepting them in spite of or sometimes even because of their flaws. But there are many kinds of love. So what do I know for sure?
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 . . .https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/1-corinthians/13/
Maybe I can’t always deeply love some people. Maybe throwing the word around, saying things like “we love everybody” does cheapen love. However, I can always show people a facet of love. I can be kind, I can have hope for them, I can watch my actions so I don’t dishonor them, I can forgive them, or even just keep my cool and trust. May we all find ways to love today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come.