Wednesday, July 23, 2008

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love ... well ... Love?

It's been an interesting day, to say the least. I woke up late, read 1 Peter. Took some pictures. Did some work on my computer. Took some more pictures. Read a lot in UNchristian (so far a fantastic book). Not the most productive of days. I was interested in what so of the message board posts were today on SocialVibe so I checked it out. When I got there, I finally found something to do. While there were 2 main subjects I began responding to, I feel compelled to write about only 1 of them tonite, so I can do another update tomorrow.

So I got to some posts dealing with love. People who want to know what it means and why can't they understand it. How can they understand it? No one is sure and every post keeps repeating the same things...

Yeah, of course love is real! I've felt it! Even though we broke up, I still love him

Love's real, I guess - but it's a feeling that comes and goes at times.

I think love is real but I can't say I've felt it yet. I think it's something we're not supposed to understand yet though, but one day - we will!

Anybody noticing a common theme to these posts? Felt - felt - felt, everyone keeps talking about how they've 'felt' love. I guess when it comes down to it, sure you can say that love is a feeling. I mean, after all, I love my Macbook Pro and I love Dr. Pepper. I love music and I love my guitar. I love ... well... you get it.

At this point, however, most people would start to call me 'materialistic.' I don't think I am, as I was merely using those as examples. If we make love into a feeling, then we make it into an adjective, therefore defeating it's true intent and meaning. When love becomes a feeling, an adjective, it's merely describing us in that context. It's why, all to often, the one getting dumped doesn't understand what's happening because "he/she loved me though!" It, sadly, also becomes a word of abuse too. Let's face it, the word 'love' is very possibly the most abused word in the english language, maybe in all languages.

When it became a feeling, it lost it's context, it's meaning, it's identity. It became a word that no one believes in anymore and why is that? Because the girl getting beat by her no-good boyfriend says, "but he loves me. I know he does. He just gets angry." Or because when someone doesn't want to sleep with their boyfriend or girlfriend, they'll resort to, "but I love you!" I guess when a word is used in ways to gain something, I wouldn't want to believe in it either. There was a time when I didn't.

So where is there hope then? How can love truly exist when it's being abused like this? Well, like I said before, when it's being used to gain something by using the other person, then I wouldn't want to believe in it either. But what if we reversed it? What if love became a word used to give something? What if love, instead of describing a feeling, became an action verb? How would that look?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Now, I know that is a very over used verse, but it fully pertains to what I'm talking about. God, who is love in it's truest form, obviously knows how to show such a thing. God gave. To show that he loved the world, he gave. He gave his only son, Jesus, that whoever believes may live in his kingdom.

For those who don't believe the Bible to be truth, bear with me here. Let's think about this. If love became something that was about giving instead of receiving, how would that look? I'm sorry, but love is not merely a feeling. Emotions are complicated enough as it is and if that's all that love was, then it's just another obstacle in my way. Love is something so much more though. My mother really enlightened me on this subject a few years ago. It was a really amazing talk that I still remember most of what we talked about (and I actually remember exactly what we were doing too.) We were driving in her car, on our way to pick up my computer from the Apple Store in Shadyside. She knew a different way to get into the city than I did and I think, actually, this road took longer to get to. So, we began talking about various different things. How school was going, was I enjoying living in the city, and eventually, somehow, the topic of love came up. She then said one of the most profound things I've ever been told. She said,

"Matthew, I want you to understand something that took me a long time to realize. Love is not a feeling. It's an action. You choose to love and you choose not to love."

This really hit me hard. I never had thought of it that way. She then began telling about how she figured this out and how it has helped her and helped her relationship with my father. Then I think back, and can understand what she's talking about because of the dramatic changes I saw in the both of them from just a few years prior. That's when I really did realize that love is something you do, not something you feel.

When we begin to see love for what it is, an action verb, then we will really be able discover it's power. That's when we'll finally be able to rise up and start revolutions. Why? Because, how would it look if we chose to love those who test us and hurt us constantly. How could their lives be changed? And, if their lives are changed and they come to the same realization and begin to love the people who try them and test them and hate them, could they have a similar reaction?

With this realization, however, it still needs to be understood that love is not easy. Why? Cause love means choosing to do so even when (and especially when) we don't want to. Love means choosing to stay beside this person even though they have hurt us. Love means getting up at 1:45 in the morning and driving however far away just so you can be there for that person who is in need...and doing everytime. (I do think there is a limit on this one though, because I'm sure someone 6 hours away has other people close by who can help them, so I'm not saying to show love to drive across state, but man would that get the point across!) Love is understanding that people have flaws, so I'm not going to hold this one against you even though it really hurt me. Love means giving her the last drumstick in the KFC bucket. It's why God wastes his time on a world that doesn't care (that's a plug. Go buy Brian Morgante's

Love is complicated, but worth it in my opinion. We've seen revolutions rise up and change nations because of love. Love can still cause revolutions, and does. We can start a revolution. The revolution starts with love. Let's begin treating love as an action verb instead of just another word in our vocabulary. Let's start loving the people we really don't want to. Let's stop treating love like something that is about me, me, me and start treating it as something for you and them, him and her. Let's make love about the other person and not about ourselves.

I think I got my point across. I think I felt so passionate about writing about this because I've really been struggling with it lately. I feel so bitter. I can't really figure out why but I know my attitude isn't helping those around me. I tend to get very defensive around people who have hurt me previously too. I'm really trying. I even started praying for those who upset me now as a means to help me really learn how to love them. I don't simply want to talk a lot of talk but not be able to try and put what I'm saying into motion. I really am trying, and no where in here did I say love was easy. In fact, I think I said it was hard. I don't feel like scrolling up to check and see though is hard. There, I said it. I'm trying though. I'm trying to show these people that I care about them and would hate to see anything bad happen to them and I want them to prosper in what they're doing. When buttons get pushed though, at least my buttons, it gets difficult to respond in a loving manner to people. I'm hoping that I'll be able to though because I would hate for any of them to think that I hate them. I'm trying guys. I am. Hold me to it too!

I wonder if hours upon hours of Switchfoot and Brian Mortgante have helped influence this also. Probably, but it's something I really believe. My mother hit me with one of the best pieces of advice I'd ever been given. Thanks mom! I hope, for those of you who were confused on this subject, that it has made you think. I don't think we'll ever be able to truly grasp all that love is, but I think we can experience it a little when we leave the feeling part and move to the giving part. Have a wonderful day. Blessings.

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