Does True Love Still Exist?Jump To Recipe
In a world of isolation and masks, of political, spiritual, and racial division, our fundamental need for love has never seemed greater. Whether romantic or familial or friendly, when it's present, we revel in it. When it's absent, we pine for it.
A quick Google search backs this up with statistics on babies who aren't held and loved in infancy, and older adults with failing health due to lack of loving relationships. The impact is no less on those of us somewhere in the middle.
We Need Love.
We all know we need love, but along with that knowledge is fear. To love someone, and allow ourselves to be loved in return, makes us vulnerable. What if we love them and they don't return our love? Or worse, their love is toxic and damaging? Perhaps, there isn't anyone on our romantic radar and we're lonely. What then?
There are also these questions..."Does true love even exist anymore? If it does, what does it look like?"
I know of a handful of lifetime love stories. Not the ones that just gut it out till the end, but that have that beautiful, messy "I'd still choose you," vibe. I know of a lot more unhappy endings, with broken hearts and homes. Their stories are more destruction and fallout than happily ever after. What makes the difference? And where does life leave you when there's no one queuing up to bring you a Valentine?
What Does Real Love Look Like?
Perhaps we are looking less for the fairy tale type true love and more for real love. Our world is full of filtered posts, smiling faces, and perfect facades. Maybe most of us want to look behind the curtain to what's real, especially regarding matters of the heart. We want real answers to real needs.
The answer can be found in our definition of love. It's such an overused word that its fullness is often cheapened or lost altogether. Many of us see love as an emotion that is happened upon and can just as easily slip away. Or it's simply a stand-in for affection towards someone, without the commitment to actually do the work of love when things get hard.
Real Love Requires Action.
In the Bible love is definitely an action word. First Corinthians gives us a list of things love does or is and a list of things love doesn't or isn't. It's a hard list. It describes the truest of loves. Love is patient and kind. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. It doesn't envy, brag, or insist on its own way. It isn't arrogant, rude, irritable, or resentful. It does rejoice with the truth and it does not rejoice in injustice. Love never ends.
Whatever type of love we are looking for, whether it's romantic or born of friendship or the sweet love of a child, this is what real love looks like. This is how we aspire to love. There is only one place we are sure to find this kind of love every time we look. With the God who created us. In him is the word's purest definition of love.
God’s Love Is Unconditional.
The Bible speaks of God's unending love for all people throughout the text, but the most poignant moments are when God lived out the example for us to see. He saved an entire nation from slavery and they railed against him and worshipped other gods. God responded with forgiveness and provision. (Exodus 1-17, 32-33) Jesus lived out the ultimate act of love when he died to cover our sins. (John 17-20) Love is not just a characteristic of God, it is part of who he is. "God is love." (1 John 4:8)
We are born needing to love and be loved. The richest, truest love will fill our hearts like no human love ever could. The love between our God and us completes our souls. He fills the corners of our hearts with healing and understanding. This is the one true love that to live without is simply not living. Until we walk with Him to fulfill the greatest command--that God is One and that we are to love him with all that we are – we will search the world over for that one thing to fill the gap, and we will never find it.
We can be full and complete in Christ and his love. We still need external love relationships of all kinds, but we can remain complete in Christ even if some area of our desire for love is lacking.
Jesus Offers Us A Way Through The Pain.
This is not to minimize the profound pain of lost love. The arms that ache to hold a child, the heart left in pieces after abandonment by a father, mother, or lover, betrayal by family, death, abuse—so much pain inflicted by those who are supposed to love us. Having a loving relationship with Jesus does not make it all disappear. Having a loving relationship with Jesus offers us a way through. He has said to "cast our anxieties on him because he cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7). He said that "our God is a refuge and strength,"(Psalm 46:1) "that He loves us with an everlasting love"(Psalm 117:2). His love for us is so vast that it's hard to comprehend (Ephesians 3:17). Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). He will be with us...always (Matthew 28:20b).
The love of God can carry us when we can't carry ourselves through the hurt and pain and loneliness. Much more than that, he offers freedom on the other side. Life can be more than surviving. Life can be full. Not perfect, but promising.
Real love is the path to freedom. When we are chained by our hurt that is what we allow to define us. When we can't forgive and live on, those that hurt us maintain a control over us, even if they have long forgotten us or the wrong they committed against us.
Jesus said to love everyone, even our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). I've recently put this to the test. I have people in my life right now that I feel used and neglected and hurt by. I noticed the negative spiral of my thoughts towards them and how it drained my energy, left me depressed, and never far from tears. God put it on my heart to pray blessings over them. I did. I prayed over them and their jobs and families and every good or needful thing I could think to pray. I have no idea if anything has changed in their lives, but in mine the difference is surprising. My mind is at peace and free from my negative thought cycle. Joy is closer than tears. I feel liberated.
Hate is an easy emotion, readily available for us towards those who hurt us and others. Hate for each other doesn’t change the world for good. Jesus died for us all because he loves us all. Love is the harder choice, but the rewards are transformational. Love is the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. It is the highest calling of our lives. The very real love of Jesus changes us and can, in turn, change our world.
There are so many different types of love out there. My hope is that we will all look behind the curtain and exchange the idea of what we want love to be for the real love of Jesus.
To see God's love in the full narrative of the Bible, check out these videos:
Guest post by Julie Moore.