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True Love is Great!
Understand what true love is all about
To many people, true love is all too elusive. It is like a four leaf clover. Any time you think you have found it, you need to look again, and you will realize that you were mistaken. It is unfortunate that so many people today, especially young people and emotionally tender people have so much problem with this love and the opposite sex thing. There are solutions, and I would like to present you with some ideas that may transform your life.
First of all, let me introduce myself to you. My name is David Cox, and I am a Baptist Pastor and Missionary working in Mexico City for the pastor 25 years. Don't let that put you off from reading the rest of this lens. I am not on a campaign to get money out of you or try to twist and turn your life around. I just simply counsel a lot of people with marital problems over the years, and I have seen a lot bad things happen to good people, and I think I have found wisdom that solves the problems. This wisdom, sorry to say, is not my own, not exclusively from me, but comes from the Bible. So you can evaluate for yourself how "sound" my counsel is, but I think you will agree if you give it all a good hearing, that these wise words will help you in your love and marital problems.
Dr. Leaf | Toxic Love
Where did this all start?
God started it all
When you see the mess that the world is in touching on love and relationships, perhaps you wonder, Where did all this mess start? Well, it started in the garden with Adam and Eve, and back then, it wasn't a mess.
Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
So the beginning starts here. God sees the man that he made, and that it "was not good" for him to be alone. This rings so true! Being lonely is a horrible thing for anybody. Yes, we have "friends" and "family", but are any of those people and relationships really what satisfies this loneliness within us? NO. It is great to have family (parents, brothers or sisters), or even friends (friends of the same sex, or "safe friends" of the opposite sex), but all of this is not what satisfies the urging and pain of the soul. What we really want and need is a real "soul-mate". Somebody that after all is said and done, is "with us", is "for us", and will socially and emotionally "complete us." This is what we really need. A soul-mate.
God saw the need within Adam, and fulfilled that need with Eve. Note that God did not make another man of the same sex for Adam. Although there is nothing wrong with guys having guys friends, and girls having girl friends, this just won't cut it for the deep desire and passion that the soul needs. The ideal soul-mate needs to be of the opposite sex for this to work, and there is a great need for a deep relationship (commitment and dedication) to exist between them in order to satisfy this human need.
God does have his order and design, and if you work against this order and design, you simply will not find that "things work out". You must refuse your own headstrong will, and let the Creator and Designer dictate to you how to do this. I find that the hard set of desires and ideas of most people is what prevents them from really finding happiness. They define happiness how they think it should be, and then when they organize their own life around that idea of happiness (and of course it doesn't work, there is no lasting satisfaction), then they cut themselves off from help or remedy because they refuse to accept or hear anything but what they decide is acceptable. This is a self-defeating work, because it is like a sick person who says he will never take medicine nor pills, and no way let anybody inject them with anything, ad they won't listen to talk about medicine and doctors. They are destined to suffer because of their own foolishness.
Another very important point in the Genesis story of God creating a solution for man's loneliness is the presence of the great Adversary, Satan. He was there using the weaknesses of man and woman against them, to make them unhappy. We must also understand the presence of these evil forces at work to destroy any happiness and satisfaction that we may find. If you do not fight with all your might to get and keep this spiritual and emotional peace and stability, you will undoubtedly lose it, because there are forces at work against your happiness, and these forces will not leave you alone if you are happy and satisfied.
A final observation about Adam's sin. In 1Timothy 2:12-14, Paul comments on these events, and he expresses that the woman should be submissive to the man. One of the reasons for this (according to his understanding which was inspired by God's direct revelation to him) was that God's order is man first, then woman. He says that Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. Why would Adam sin, following Eve's urging to sin and eat the forbidden fruit as she had, when he knew that would cause a condemnation from God, separating him from God? That is a particularly thorny theological question, that I was delighted to read a suggested answer in one of my books. Adam being a perfect, sinless man, loved perfectly. Knowing that Eve had fallen, and that she would be thrown out of the garden for her sin, and that would be their permanent separation (Adam from Eve), he chose to suffer whatever might befall him in order to stay with Eve.
In our day of "marry them and drop them before a year or two goes by" attitude of most people, this is most noble. Somebody who loved his soul-mate so much, that he refused to be separated from her. The old Jewish commentators comment on this passage in Genesis that God made Eve from Adam's rib, not from his head so that she would dominate him, and not from his foot so that he would oppress her, but from the rib so that she would always be close to his heart.
Folks, it is all about sacrifice. To get something that is worth having, keeping, and fighting and even dying for, it has to cost somebody something. All the freebies our world wants to us to trap men and women in dangerous and horribly painful situations is just the "free bait" that any fisherman or trapper knows he has to put out there to trap his prey. We need to change our thinking from "I want something quick, easy, and that doesn't cost me", to "I am willing and happy to sacrifice greatly to get something that probably nobody else has." If you approach your relationships with others with this sacrificial attitude, that YOU are willing to sacrifice to get something good worth having, then you will probably succeed. If you want the free but doesn't cost me stuff, you should be aware that when the bear trap crushes your bones and you hurt to the very bottom of your heart, you got what you were looking for, something free and easy, and you didn't notice the "what-else" that came along for the ride!
What does love have to do with it?
Different kinds of good and bad love.
You really cannot be happy without understanding how important love is, and how religious love is.
1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
God's essence is love. That means that God's nature and functioning centers around "love". If you do not understand how this fits into your happiness, then you need to read carefully the following and meditate on these three little verses. Because "God is love", God desires His character to be acted out among his creatures. You can only be "happy" if you understand this. God has made life such that our lives, from birth through death revolve around personal relationships that center on this love factor. Therefore we need to define what is love?
The common view of love
To be blunt, most people consider the word "love" to be a synonym with sex. Love is not sex. Love is a relationship with another person. When we degenerate into this kind of thinking, we ruin what God wants to do in our life.
But the common view of love is still filled with a lot of problems. In the Bible, there are several different Greek words for love, andagape, filos, and stergos, and these have bearing here. agape is a kind of love that is very intense and self-sacrificial. filos is the kind of love that two siblings have one for the other. stergos is the kind of love that a parent (usually mother) has for her offspring.
In addition there is the Greek word pornos which does not occur in Scripture at all, and this is a very base, self centered attention. Basically this is exactly what psychologists tell you, "You first need to love yourself." This love takes nobody else into consideration except one's own self, one's own needs, and the rest of the world fulfills whatever a person wants for himself.
Note that this kind of love is very toxic. Self-centered love is deadly, and it is something that can enter and overtake the other good kinds of love mentioned above.
God's view of love
So what is "good love"? Good love is when you come to that point in life where you willingly sacrifice of yourself for the benefit of others without any immediate reward for your doing so. This is something that you are "okay with", or that you can live the rest of your life content with having lost whatever for the benefit of the other.
Let me illustrate what God typically does in a normal person. A young person blooms and "leaves the nest" and basically everything he or she does is for his own benefit. They meet somebody of the opposite sex and have a good relationship, but basically they begin to learn about love, because once there is somebody else to take into consideration before you decide, act, or say, things are different. They get married because both see it as beneficial to each one (their self). But they don't understand love yet, not very fully. They have a baby, and this new person has little to offer them, and demands a lot. Give little, and demand a lot, that is what we need, not what we need to be.
As a person becomes mature, he changes himself from being "toxic" (give me what I want, and I return nothing but what I absolutely have to), to becoming "adult". An adult person is secure in him/herself, and they can give without "needing" immediate gratification. They give and give without any acknowledge of their sacrifices. This is how God is with us. God's love towards us continues faithfully whether we acknowledge his part in it all or not. Only after death does God usually demand a severe accounting with us.
To change your love to true (good) love, you must begin to move out of your own world of selfishness, and enter into the world of service. God has placed a premium on humility and service. These elements in a person's life make them of spiritual value to God. Christ washed his disciples' feet, and this shows his service and humility. People who are like this are gold mines, that impart great benevolence to those around them. They are the opposite of "toxic love" people.
The items below will help you identify what is toxic love. See Are you Addicted to Love? for more on Toxic Love.
The primary thinking is on pleasing one's self, luxuries, and "being served". Although the person has to hide this and help other people from time to time, a constant regression to self's pleasures is obviously self-centeredness coming out.
Dislike for service to others
The whole purpose of God in making our environment a relationship intensive thing is so that we have to learn how to live with others, and get off of "self". When a person dislikes service to others (shown by avoidance, and complaining when serving others), he is selfish.
Self focus on their own abilities and accomplishments i.e. lack of humility.
When a talented person has great ability, that is great, at least as long as he can keep it to himself. When he begins a constant bragging and self-promotion of self, then he becomes tedious. Selfish people are usually identified easily because their conversation centers on themselves, on their own life, and anything remotely touching on other people's lives they have to drag themselves into it. If you say that you are having hard times economically, they will answer, "Yes I have a hard time paying off my yacht every month." They always want to drag things back to them, and if they don't, they will comment on how they never would have your type of experiences (a put down).
Give to Get
You can identify a self-centered person because he is a merchant in his relationships. He will give to others in order to get what he wants. He is a user. People are unimportant to him except as they serve his purposes. A toxic love person has no desire to "invest" time, energy, resources, interest, etc. in anybody else except his own life and purpose. Many times a self-centered person will do charity work, because somehow in his thinking, that balances off his selfishness, and he thinks God will let his selfishness pass if he throws a few scraps to the wind.
Keeping Score - A toxic love kind of person is one that "keeps score". In other words, his interest is 1) remembering every sacrifice he has done for you, because each one should be reciprocated by you, and he is very intense on this matter, i.e. nothing goes unnoticed, and nothing is "forgiven" or a "freebie". 2) Every offense against him is also noted, and you have to "pay" somehow by "giving him something". 3) While this mental tallying is very intense between him and any other person, nothing you do for third parties is important at all. 4) Everything he does for third parties is somehow supposed to awe you and make you want to pay what he did for them with a favor.
Control and Power Hungry
People with toxic love use others to get what they personally want. Every relationship, or almost every relationship, is managed in such a way as to get benefit. This is a carnal and low level benefit, in that it seeks immediately, material, earthly rewards, ignoring for the most part any heavenly (God given) rewards or values. They need to control others to get what they want, and total control is best for them, but they will always focus on control somehow.
Lack of Trust
Toxic love people don't trust other people. Trust involves a good feeling towards others, even though it can be violated easily and you can lose. A mature person will let other people use them somewhat, because they become toxic if everything must be immediately rewarded and must be tangible in its benefits. A good friend will give you things and loan you things even though they get nothing but trouble in return. In the end, this allows you to test people and see how sincere and grateful they are towards you afterwards. Perhaps the issue of jealousy is the most clearly seen area indicating toxic love.
Avoiding Toxic Love
What to do?
In the end analysis, being associated with people living toxic love hurts you. There are two principal considerations here (besides you not being this kind of person): 1) how to avoid them. 2) what to do if you are married to one.
1) how to avoid them.
The most important "preventative" item here is to simply identify and stay away from these kinds of people. Note that people with mature love (that a. sacrifice freely and greatly, b. serve others, and c. are humble) have a problem for you. They exist out there, but they don't call attention to themselves, so they are really hard to find. They often are shy and unassuming, easily allowing other grand stand types to take the limelight. So to find friends and mates that are not toxic in their relationships, you need to stay away from the show and limelight. People who are "great" and know it are not good people to make friends with unless they show a tremendous degree of forgetting themselves and their own accomplishments as a way of life.
Toxic people are like hot spicy food, because although you briefly enjoy being around them, you pay long and hard afterwards. So when you look for friends, find people that are "comfortable" to be with, that is, that don't impose and demand from you, but rather bless and benefit you. People who want you to see what they can get out of you are not the kind of people you want to be around.
Likes attract in this. Be a mature lover, in that you give in your relationships without looking for something in return as a general rule. Find people who are like that. It is great to have people who always do favors for you, so do special things back and see who can "out-do" the other!
2) what to do if you are married to one.
Worse case scenario. You married a toxic lover. First of all, realize that things are on a downhill slow to destruction. You can either bail out immediately (not advisable though because you still pay a heavy price), or you can give it your best shot. People who "cut and run and take their loses" also have commitment problems later on so that is not advisable.
First of all, understand that this is a spiritual problem, and it has to be addressed spiritually. God is love, and true (good) love is what changes people. Although the toxic love person will hardly notice people who serve him, they can influence that kind of person by humble service. It takes a really long time, but it can work. The toxic love person has to come to bear with their own sin before God, and they have to find Christ as their Savior. This is THE SOLUTION for toxic love.
Work on this kind of person must be slow, but sure (you must be firm on some issues). Work to change his tally system, and make it clear to him that you do not keep score, and that you do not work on an exchange system. Your love is free, but must be appreciated by him.
Love Addiction, Co-Dependent Attachments and Toxic Love
Understanding our social-emocional-spiritual needs
Getting things straight in our head!
You will never understand, must less fix, what is wrong with the loneliness in your life unless you understand things from God's perspective. Likewise the fix must come from how God has told us to fix these things. Let's talk a little bit about man's fixes, and God's unique fix.
Men (generically, because this includes women) think that their spiritual and social loneliness can be fixed in a lot of different ways, and most all work for him, although a few may not work for certain people. So man tries to make life a distraction by focusing on either work, or entertainment, or some other element (like a great cause, save the whales, etc). These things only frustrate man's soul, because there is no satisfaction in the depths of his soul with all that. Sure they all distract, but anytime we stop, rest, and think, which is inevitable, we fall back to the same old problem, we are lonely.
Here women have more insight than men. Men want toys to play with, and this is what "makes them tick" as some would say. But in reality, it is just a deep ocupation of their time and energies in something (worthy or not) that still doesn't meet their social spiritual needs. Women are built different than men, literally and figuratively, (think like this, one are PC users, and the other MAC users, sorry, I am male, so I want the concrete rather than the female more abstract) so their approach to solving this problem is different. Women build social networks with other women mostly, and sometimes with children. But none of this solves the problem, spiritual and social loneliness.
Notice that I insist on linking the two together. The problem we all experience is a SPIRITUAL as well as a social-emotional problem. Most of us literally are "WITH OTHER PEOPLE" all day long. The social aspect is definitely not the solution, because being in society, rubbing shoulders with other people simply will not satisfy our needs. Likewise emotional experiences will not give us the peace and fulfillment we are looking for. There is something more needed beyond the both of these, even though both of these "are close to the bull's eye". The solution is a spiritual aspect of this problem, that many want to skip over.
True happiness comes in relating with a special someone in such a way that it fills us spiritually. This intercourse with this person (don't get gross on me here, "intercourse" is to have a relationship or interchange between two people, and it is not necessarily physical), but this intercourse with this special person is based on a relationship where both WANT EACH OTHER. They do not necessary base this relationship on the physical relationship, although that comes into play also in it all.
What satisfies our spiritual side in all of this is the activity of loving somebody that loves us back. If you miss this, you will miss everything that can help you find happiness and true love. The intense life halting activity of loving somebody is what fills our spiritual emptiness. You must do the activity of spiritual loving another person in order to understand this. This means that the solution is only found in your participation in the process, and you must fully, actively, and with all your energy enter into this "game" or spiritual activity in order to get the benefit of this. I say this especially to the men out there. Many of them think, "hey, we eat, we go to a hotel room, we watch the ballgame." The whole relationship thing seems to many men to be just about "what do I have to do for my girl in order to get out of her what I want", and unfortunately, many men think sex is the only thing they really want out of a relationship. Well, disaster is about to fall on those guys.
There is a lot more about true love that sex. Moreover, if you make your relationship JUST ABOUT SEX, and not about "relating" in the relationship, then one day both the woman and man will have plumbing failure, and when that day comes, you have zero, because you never built anything else into your relationship. A sex oriented love relationship doesn't work when you are looking for your soul-mate, it doesn't work when you are young and vigorous, and it definitely shows its failure and faulty planning when you get older.
Our society has become sex obsessed, and this is exactly where Satan's dirty paws are seen all over everything. It is not that we should be prudish and never talk about sex, nor never think about it, nor allow it into our soul-mate's relationship with us, but it should not dominate things, neither in priority, nor in being in the first place of everything, nor in being where we spend our energies.
True happiness comes from having a soul-mate to live life with. To be together, happy, relating, social, emotional, and yes, sometimes very passionate, but never forgetting the compassionate part of it.
This social-emotional-spiritual need of companionship is what God saw as Adam's problem, and God's solution was to create Eve for him. There is a biblical and Creator designed and ordained aspect to all of this, and if you don't catch it and understand it, you will miss what you should be looking for.