Star Haven
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

During Valentine's season, one can't help but think of the subjects of love and relationships. Both are intertwined, and both are involved so deeply within the lives of every individual. They shape us, make us who we are, and challenge us to grow—no matter what kind of relationship it is, no matter how positive or negative it and all that it encompasses may be. Typically we think of love and relationships in the romantic sense, especially at this time of year, but I speak of them in all senses, be it romantic, familial, spiritual, a friendship, toward strangers, toward beings in general, even toward those we don't like.

We take love for granted, and, even worse, twist it into something selfish and selective. We love people on our terms, love them based on them meeting certain conditions. If people fail those conditions, we judge them, disrespect them, condemn them, make them feel guilty, try to change them, think them unworthy of our love, of our time, of us. The irony is that no one can help but fail at least one of these conditions—usually many more—for we are not perfect, for everyone makes mistakes. And we also fail for setting up these conditions in the first place, rather than loving unconditionally. It's so hypocritical.
To even try to meet all these conditions of worth, to please everyone, to even meet one's own conditions he or she places on him or herself, would make one a total wreck.

And I know I'm guilty of "loving" this way.

Something I've been learning and striving for is to love unconditionally. It's easy to love when things are going well, but a totally different story when someone disappoints us, hurts us, severely disagrees with us, or even hates us. Unconditional love is extremely hard; it's hard even toward those we care about! So of course I know I've made and will make mistakes, but I trust that through God's love, strength, and guidance, He will help me. I've seen how much He already has worked in my life, most noticeably within the past year (which has been difficult and has contained many ups and downs), and it amazes me.

Our worth comes from God, not others, not even ourselves. He doesn't put conditions of value upon us; He loves those who don't believe in Him and those who hate Him—just as infinitely as much as he loves those who love and follow him (who still make mistakes, too). So who are we to put conditions of worth and love upon others and ourselves? I want to love others based upon His value for them. Maybe by loving this way, unconditionally, it will show others at least a fraction of how much He loves them.

The following words are an inspiration to me, and these descriptions...this is how I want to live my life. I love it because it's a perfect guideline, a perfect reminder of what love really is and what I need to work on, a perfect reminder and great encouragement to know that there is Someone who loves me like that. I want to love as He loves.

Going through a rough spot in my life, and knowing others who have, as well, there's been a lot of frustration and uncertainty felt; these following words also remind me that I'll get through it and I'll eventually see clearly, as well. And so will others.

No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.*
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.*
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,*
Isn't selfish, always "me first,"*
Isn't easily agitated,
Doesn't keep score of wrongdoings,
Doesn't delight when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,*
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,*
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until then, . . . Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

~1 Corinthians 13 (The Message, adapted)
*Where I need to put my foot in my mouth.

Love forgives.

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Star Haven | Copyright © Julia K.
Last modified Wednesday, 2/14/07