Love Connection – Passage 2/22/09 – Part Two

Ok, I apologize for getting these last two questions out a little late this week.  It has been a crazy week.  But, without any more excuses, here are they are!


Question #3
Why does it seem that just when you get a boyfriend, you immediately start liking someone else?

Well, I have to say that this question made me chuckle a little bit as I read it the first few times.   Not that it is a bad question; it’s just that I think I’ve experienced the feeling you are describing.   Ahhh, love can be maddening, right?   You get involved with someone on an exclusive level, and then almost immediately you begin to notice someone else that interests you.

flirt_fullOk.  Let’s see what we can make of this.  It is a legitimate question; especially for someone at your phase of life.  So, let me just say a few things.

Part of the reason this happens is because you are at a place in your life where you are starting to explore potential mates.  Which is a fun place to be!

Because of all of the options available to you, there will be curiosity and interest in a lot of different directions.  And in that way, the feeling may not be so bad.  You do want to learn about people and personalities and which of those you like being around and could live with for the long-haul.   Meeting and exploring interest in more than one person is probably healthy.

Now, I’m not one that thinks “exclusive dating” at your age is totally wrong.   I know some people think that young people should never date exclusively.  Personally, I’m not sure saying that is necessary.  However, I think these people do have a strong point in at least this area:  You should be very careful about exclusively dating one person while young.  And the reason is because of the feeling you are expressing in your question.

You aren’t ready to get married and be committed to one person, most likely.  You are just looking at options.  Choosing then to commit yourself to one person could be potentially harmful to them and you.  You aren’t promising to be with this person forever.  And they aren’t promising that to you.  Even if you say those very words, there isn’t really anything like a marriage certificate to back it up.

Young people tend to get hurt in relationships because they treat them like they are going to last forever, when in fact, both parties are still looking at all the options.

Maybe a good idea is to avoid the kind of difficulty that is suggested in your question and choose not to “exclusively date” every guy that you develop feelings for and interest in.   I know the normal pattern is:  “See guy.  Fall for guy.  Guy and girl start dating.  Guy and girl break-up.  Look for new guy.  See guy.  Fall for guy, etc.   The cycle continues until it finally sticks.

But, a lot of young people get hurt unnecessarily in the process—like for instance, the young man that you may be dating now that I know you have no desire to hurt.  You don’t want to hurt him.  But, you are still young and exploring options.
So, maybe you could find other ways to get to know guys better (through group events, deeper friendships, etc.) without creating that type of one-on-one exclusive relationship.

2004_chevrolet_astroAs an example:  when I go to buy a new vehicle, I like to drive around to many different dealership lots and see what is out there.  And before I get too serious about any of them specifically I want to go on a “test-drive”.  Now, when I tell the salesman that I’d like to drive it and see how it handles, I don’t also promise to be faithful to that car and only that car.  I don’t promise to love it and care only for it.  I just tell him I wanna try it out.  If it drives well, than maybe we can pursue it further.

2009_corolla_s3_02Now, I know people aren’t like cars.  But, that actually strengthens my point.  The boring biege Chevy Astro van isn’t going to be disappointed that in the end I choose the bright blue Toyota over it.   (Btw, I would never drive an astro-van).  But, people do get hurt.  And we need to be careful about the commitments we make to people, especially at a young age when we aren’t ready to deliver on those large commitments anyway.

Does this mean that you can’t ever “date” one guy?  No, of course not.  But, I would encourage you to be careful in making that your standard pattern at this age.  There will be time for commitment.  A huge, life-long, for better or for worse commitment.

But for now, maybe just admit that you aren’t quite ready for that and choose to have different kinds of relationships with guys.  Pursue friendships and explore romance in a group-date format and make dating “exclusively” an exception rather than the standard pattern.


Question #4
Is it possible for someone to grow-up with a brother/sister, but not really love them?

hillbilly-toothpasteThis question, like one we had a few weeks ago, isn’t about romantic love (well, at least I hope it isn’t!  Maybe in Arkansas it is! ☺   But, as Austin said on Sunday night, one type of love found in the Bible is between family members.  So, I would like to respond to this one anyway.

I think love for family shares at least one reference point with romantic love.  It is still a choice.  You must choose to love your family (in an agape, selfless understanding of love) as much as you must choose to love your future spouse.  The nature of love is that it is always based on choice.  If there is no choice, than it isn’t love;  it is only a reflex.

Are there moments when you “feel” loving towards family?  Sure.  Are there times when your “feelings” towards your family are anything but loving?  Yep.  But, true love as defined by the Bible isn’t about “feelings” but about actions rooted in choice.  You can choose to put your brother/sister above yourself (LOVE) whether or not you currently even like them.

I don’t know who sent this question and so I don’t know what the exact problem is that your question is addressing.  But, if you are struggling with “loving” a sibling, maybe one that has not been kind to you or loving to you, please remember this:  Love is not based on another person’s performance or behavior.  Love is YOUR CHOICE.

John put it this way:  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  – 1 John 4:10 (TNIV)

Love was GOD’S CHOICE.  Before we chose to love God; maybe even when we had chosen not to; God CHOSE to love us.  It wasn’t based on whether we showed love back.  It was based on God’s choice to ACT with love.

Love is sacrificial.  Love isn’t always returned.  But, those of us who follow Jesus have decided that love is the only option to bring healing to our world.  We believe that the love of Jesus is the only hope for humanity.  And we choose to live our lives in the pattern of God and bring love to every person on the planet; even family members who don’t at times deserve it.

So, may your life be marked with LOVE.  And may your family experience greater love because of your decision to love them before they love you.  And may you in this greatest of ways show yourself to be a true child of your Father, God.

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Love Connection – Passage 2/22/09 – Part One

love-connection-jpgI love ranch-flavored sunflower seeds.

Seriously.  I love those things.  I could eat them all day long.  Get me a diet coke and a bag or two of seeds and I’m content for the afternoon.

But I also love cookie crisp cereal, eggo waffles, ESPN, my daughter, University of Oregon sports and, of course, my iPhone.   I love my wife, music, God, video games, good friends, and coffee.

Love.  I say that I love many things.  But, what does “love” mean?  Obviously I don’t love my wife like I love my iPhone, right?   Well, those might be close.  Bad example.  But, it can’t be healthy.

I think you get what I’m saying.  Love for food, for family, for possessions, and for God all employ the same word but mean different things.   And if love can be used for so many things, than what does it really mean?

It’s almost as if since love has come to mean so many things that it doesn’t really mean anything.  Could that be part of our problem with relationships?  Maybe we aren’t really sure what love means anymore.

And so we love our wives like we love our video games.  We love our God like we love our sports.  And maybe that doesn’t hurt our love of video games and sports, but what if it is too shallow to create good relationships with people and God.   What if loving people like we love food is fine for the food but not caloric enough for people?

Well, we are on week three of this series, “Love Connection,” and this last week Austin talked about what love really means.   And here are the questions that came from that discussion.  Again, I’ll respond to two of them today and two more tomorrow.

Please join us.  Read the questions.  Follow the response.   And feel free to join in the dialogue.


Question #1
“What is the difference between loving someone and “being in love”?

This is a great question, because I think it gets to the heart of what we talked about on Sunday night.

3g-iphone-1The problem with both of these terms is they need defined.  When someone says, “love” what do you think of?  Love of what?  Sunflower seeds?  iPhone?   And if love is hard to define, than what about the phrase, “being in love.”  That one seems to have taken on a whole lot of fuzziness.  No one is quite sure what it means.  In fact, most people might tell you that it can’t really be defined at all.  It isn’t something you can describe; you can only feel it.

So, let’s start there because that might be a good clue.   Chances are if you can’t define it and can only “feel” it, then it isn’t real love.  At least not how I think God defines it.  Now because we can love tv-shows and birthday cake in our culture, you can call it whatever you want.  But, I don’t think the feeling of “being in love” is necessarily God-like love.

What I think most people mean when they say “being in love” are the overwhelming feelings of attraction that take over our minds.   You know, those initial feelings we experience when we meet someone we are attracted to.

And those are, in fact, hard to define.  But, we all know the things we feel in those moments of “being in love.”  All you want to do is spend every moment together.  You blow-off sleep to text late into the night.  A song plays on your iPod and you think of your future together.  You write notes and letters full of words of undying love.  All of a sudden you are a poet!  You lie awake day-dreaming of your wedding day.  Etc…

Now, none of these things is bad.  In fact, they are a huge part in bringing people together in relationships.  However, these feelings, as great as they are, aren’t love.

Love is something else entirely.  Now, we’ve covered this many times at this point, but love is not simply a feeling that overwhelms you, but a choice that is proven with actions.

Austin mentioned this last Sunday night, and I think he was right on.  He said we find a definition of sorts for love in the Bible.  1 John 4:10:  “Now this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and gave himself up for us as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

il_430xn17617026In essence, John says, “You wanna know what love is?  Well, this is love.  This is it right here.  You know love because God, who is love, loved you.  He defined love for you.  But his definition can’t be found in a dictionary.  Love isn’t made of words and feelings, but of actions.  Love is a verb.  And he demonstrated this action of love by not claiming his own rights and choosing to come and give up his own life for you, though you didn’t deserve it.  In fact, before you even chose to love him.”

Real love is choosing to care about another person more than yourself.  Real love is self-sacrificial.  It chooses to love the other person even when the feelings of “being in love” are gone for a while.  Real love is a commitment of the will to give whatever is necessary, to sacrifice everything for another.

For, example:  real love doesn’t pressure other people to do what you want to do.  Real love asks what the other person needs not what they want.  Real love is honest and authentic and doesn’t need to pretend to be something or someone else.  Real love is willing to give up what would be fun for what would be most helpful or beneficial for the other person.   Real love is sacrifice.

Now, the feelings of “being in love” may be what help us enter into relationships.  The chemistry that we feel in these moments is good, exhilarating and a huge blessing.   But, I don’t think we were ever meant to then define them as love.   Love moves beyond these feelings to a conscious choice to give your whole life to this person regardless of how long those feelings last.

This idea of love, then, obviously moves beyond just romantic relationships.   Should you love your family, your friends and even God with this type of love?  Yeah, I think so.  But, certainly any serious romantic relationship should be built on it.

Which moves us to the next question…


Question #2
How do you know when you truly love someone?

Well, this is a great question, but I’m a little hesitant to respond with too much because we will be going into this one a lot deeper this next week.

However, at least one thing can be said:  because love is a choice, it isn’t as difficult to know when you really love someone as you might imagine.

waterslide0_000Think of it this way.   How do you know when you are really going down a water-slide at Wildwaves?  Well, I don’t know about you, but I know I’m going down the slide when I choose to do it and push off and head on down.   In other words, I know my decision pretty quick.  Either I’m yelling and screaming down a winding tube full of raging water or I’m not.  (I just wonder how many kids have peed in the pool at the bottom!).

Love is similar.   When you choose to start caring about someone more than yourself, than you have engaged in love.

Now, I know that is a little bit simplistic, and we’ll go into greater detail this next week.  (Look at you and your question being ahead of the curve!)  But, I think a lot of the difficulty we have with knowing whether or not we are “really in love” is based on our faulty assumption at the beginning that love is this magical “feeling” that we “fall” into rather than a “choice” that we make.

superman lunch boxI mean, we make choices all day long and don’t question it.  I don’t start eating my subway sandwich and think, “How do I know that I’m really eating lunch?”  (Some philosphers might, Rene Descartes wanted to know how to know he really existed!)  I know I’m eating lunch because I’ve decided it is noon and I’m hungry and that I’m going to eat now (which actually sounds like a good idea, cause all this food talk is making me hungry).

Do you get what I’m saying?  I know there is a bit more to it than just this.  Knowing when we have gone from just the fun feelings of “being in love” to real self-sacrificial God-like love may require the tests of time, security, knowledge, focus and a whole bunch of other stuff that we will get into this next week.

But, if love is really a choice, then at some point I can be sure that I have in fact made this choice.   Now, I could choose at some other point to go back on this choice and make a new choice.  But, that wouldn’t be very loving, would it?  ☺

Hope this partially answers your questions, and hang-in there, hopefully next week will be more helpful.