Including God in Your Search for Love
Seeking The Best, Finding The Worst
A lot of people, both women and men, go out into the world on a love mission: To find “Mr. or Miss Right.” As time goes by, and often after finding far too many “Mr. and Miss Wrongs,” instead of “The One,” searchers often find themselves settling for “Mr. or Miss Right Now.” And that’s usually not a good way to select a mate. Why do we do this? I believe it is because no one really teaches us how to look for a mate. When we reach the age where we are beginning to look around for romantic love, we usually get the “4-1-1” from our friends about how to attract them (And, sadly, this is usually the equivalent of the blind leading the blind).
While there are no references to the word “romance” in the Bible, love is mentioned close to 300 times. The secular world has taken the “romance” ball, so to speak, and run with it to the point where the meaning associated with the word bears little resemblance to what love means, according to Holy Scripture. Movies, books, and television show us the world's view of love. And to the secular world (and to those who get their definition of love from the world), love, more often than not, is represented by to lust and/or infatuation. It’s something you can “fall” into and out of, fairly quickly, and it is known to bring with it deeply emotional, irrational feelings. As we grow older and more experienced with real love, most of us learn that if the overwhelmingly emotional feelings are never replaced by real love, neither the feelings nor the relationship will last.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
We’ve all been there. I know when I was very young, I allowed myself to be “seduced” by what the world told me “love” was, which I now know was foolish. For example, I remember becoming beguiled by sensuous voices and music, and by the poetic words of songs telling me how love felt, or how it would make me feel to be in love. Music/songs can be powerfully packed with a lot of emotions (through instrumentals and seductive voices), and they can evoke wildly emotional responses in anyone, especially the very young, and they can help to set the stage for a blindsided, foolish, all-out wrong strategy for finding romantic love.
In youth, we teach ourselves it is okay for love to be “blind,” because we don't want to hold ourselves or the object of our romantic interest to a higher standard. That would dampen the fires of our irrational and emotionally charged attempt to find love—something we probably don’t even want to try to understand. Trying to understand what it’s all about makes it less sexy. How can you “fall in love” if you’re examining it as something you need to try to understand? Right? So, in our youth we allow ourselves, instead, to be passionately guided by the words of beautiful love songs. Most of us don’t have a clue about the pure love of God, or the connection between God’s love and romantic love, so, needless to say, there’s really no way we’re ready to be experts on the topic of romantic love.
Who did you first talk to/with about romantic love?
But on we go, taking our foolish ideas and applying them to our real-world experiences. When we do this, we often allow emotion to overtake common sense, and sometimes we allow people we don’t know and who don’t know us (song writers) to determine what will be our way of looking at the world. Instead of doing the work of praying, seeking, reading, and learning how to look for a mate, and, after doing all that, deciding what makes sense for us, and what doesn't. For example, we often take to heart the sweet, poetic, and pleasing words of songs, and then we go in search of someone who evokes in us a similar emotional sentiment as what was expressed in a song.
When we fall into “puppy love,” considering someone as a possible “sweetheart” contender, we’re usually too young to know that many—if not most—song writers write what they think will sell records. In order for their songs to be commercially viable, they have to be "in sync" with the mood, tone and styles of the day. They have to be in rhythm and in syncopation with the cadence of modern life—with what is “popular” in music and in the world—and not necessarily in sync with what might be best for those who are looking for love. The truth is, most love songs are more closely aligned with lust, than they are with love.
This is not a “put down” of music or musical lyrics. This is just a tug of your coattail to remind that both my and your foundation for many of our ideas about love were once based on thoughts and ideas having little to do with what God teaches us, through the Holy Scripture, about love.
For the Love of God
Two kinds of love are discussed in the Bible: Agape and phileo. God’s love for all of mankind is represented by agape love. Agape love is sacrificing, unconditional love. It was demonstrated to us when God gave mankind his greatest gift (John 3:16), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is the kind of love that good, loving parents have for their children.
The Bible gives us a more detailed view of agape love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV). “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Phileo love, on the other hand, is the “brotherly” kind of love God wants us to have for our friends and neighbors. In the world, it is conditioned, usually, based on how we’re treated by others. Unlike agape love, phileo is not sacrificial, and it usually comes not only with conditions, but also with expectations that love will be returned. This is the type of love described in the Bible in 1 John 4:7-13 (KJV):
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 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. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
As Christian adults, we owe it to ourselves to find out what love really is, and we must learn how to recognize when someone truly loves us. When we put God’s love in front of us as a guide, we learn to build our hopes on a kind of love that’s eternal and everlasting. That’s the test, and I believe it is the only way we’re ever equipped to have the right kind of love for self and others. Understanding God’s love, I believe, is the best way to attract a mate who’ll have the right kind of love for you. Godly love for another person is eternal and everlasting, while lust is a passing fancy—more akin to a “hot flash” than to godly love. Lust has no substance, no stamina, no enduring sustenance, and no eternal life. Lust actually feeds on itself, and that’s why it burns out quickly. Sadly, too many people confuse love and lust, when the two have virtually nothing in common.
Do You Remember How old you were when you had your first "crush?"
I believe God wants us to place priority on learning to love self and others as His Creations. He wants our focus to be on loving people as human beings, with generosity, kindness, and helpfulness towards others being ways to show love. He wants our actions to match up with our diction. You cannot tell someone you “love” them, and then not demonstrate “love” toward them. Love is shown through our actions, most of all, and not just in our use of words. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a home with parents who never actually said to me or my siblings, “I love you.” But we knew we were loved because of their actions toward us; everything they did for us said “I love you,” and there was never any doubt that we were loved.
Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places
Here is a true story I'd like to share with you, from my life. I was driving in my car around noon one day, on an October Thursday. Listening to my favorite radio station, I the station's DJ's were in the middle of a call-in show where people were trying to find or describe their perfect mate. A nervous-sounding woman who called in first she was unemployed. Then, in the next breath, she said she was self-employed. Then she blurted out, excitedly, "I clean houses for a living, and I just want to find someone so that I can be happy! I just want someone who will make me happy!" she said, as if she was pleading with the radio station's DJ's and its listeners.
The woman sounded upset, emotionally distraught. She said she had been looking for a while, and that she always seemed to meet men who were looking for someone to use, and that those she found usually already had a girlfriend or a wife. If none of those things applied, she said the men she met were not looking for a serious commitment. She continued. She said she did not want any man who already had someone or who was married. Then she began to cry as she spoke. She said, "I clean houses for a living, and I feel like a maid! I just want to be made to feel special. I just want to be happy." She was sobbing and speaking through tears as she said those last words.
I drove to my house as quickly as possible. At home, I looked up the phone number to the radio station. I wanted to call the DJ to tell him I wanted to speak to that woman, either by phone or over the radio. Feeling sorry for her, I had heard so many things wrong with her appeal, I was bursting to talk to her because I felt she desperately needed some good and godly advice.
First, I felt she was asking the wrong people for help. Although she was asking a radio station to broadcast a message to its listeners, it seemed to me she was actually pleading with the DJ’s to help her. I also felt, from the exasperated tone she had, she was making herself seem so desperate, most eligible men who were listening would probably be frightened away by the downpour of desperation.
Now, even though I am a devoted Christian, I realize it can be hard to hear the words "you need to pray," when you're feeling so much anxiety and misery you can't see straight. But that’s exactly what I wanted to tell that woman. I felt she needed to be told her anxiety and misery were only tricks of the devil; things he was using against her to get her to a point of no return. The radio station’s DJ’s didn’t say anything about God or prayer to that woman during that conversation. So again, I felt the poor woman had surely dialed the wrong number in her desperate search for help.
Do you believe you have ever felt the kind of "desperation" this woman demonstrated by her phone call asking radio station DJ's for help?
She said she’d been trying for a while to find a man, yet she kept ending up with a handful of nothing. Duh? I believe this was happening to her because she only knew what she thought she wanted. From the misguided nature of her conversation, it was easy to see she really wasn’t spiritually equipped to be out in the world seeking a mate of any kind. It was apparent to me from the desperation and fear in her voice that what she was really in need of at that time in her life was a way for her spirit to forge a closer connection with God. I wanted so much for someone to tell her she needed to learn to depend on God through Jesus Christ, to give her what she needs to fill the emptiness she obviously was feeling in her life.
I tried and tried to get through, to talk to the DJs, to relay what I felt the woman needed to her. But, I kept getting a busy signal and wasn't able to actually talk to anyone at the radio station.
Still, I thought long and hard about it all. I thought about what I would have said if I had been able to get through. I wanted that woman to know what she really needed was to begin a love relationship with God through Christ. I wanted her to know that if she would do that, she wouldn’t feel the need to be so distressed and fraught with anxiety in her search for a mortal man to “make her happy” or to make her feel whole. I wanted to tell her it’s perfectly normal and fine to want male companionship. But I also wanted to tell her that she needed to stop feeling and acting like prey waiting for the next heartless predator to come along to devour her. I wanted to tell her that by developing a love relationship with God through Christ, she would really be beginning to learn to love herself, as God loves her. Then, with a new understanding of herself, and a new love for herself as a child of the Most High God, she would be able to go out into the world knowing she is already whole, and already loved. Completely. She would see herself as the prize she is, and she would find that the love of God would empower her. It would make her realize her own worth and value, and realizing this would enable her to see herself through new eyes. She would feel better about herself, she would expect more for herself, and she would no longer attract, or be attracted to, men who are out in the world looking for the next “notch” on their belt.
My heart actually trembled for that poor woman as I felt the anguish in her voice coming through the airwaves. Obviously she didn’t realize it, but she was pleading from a completely dependent stance. She was really too weak at that time in her life to be adding anybody to her romance calendar or schedule. Instead, she needed to become a lot stronger mentally and spiritually before beginning to think about romance.
In that kind of state of desperation and anxiety, any woman is essentially a "magnet" for men out to find someone to use. She is most likely to attract those men who are flitting from one woman to another, those engaged in disappointing many instead of satisfying one. Desperation is what allows user-type men to zero in on loneliness signals—like ants to a meat skin. The person I was hearing was far too vulnerable, I felt, to be looking for a “romance” to save her. I believe women, young and old, need to first discover the love, peace, and serenity that only God can bring to our lives before seeking an earthly romantic relationship. Because when any of us develops a personal relationship with God, first, we find all we will ever need to know about the true nature of true love. Once we learn that, we’re then ready to go out into the world looking for love.
Real, True, "Mo Better" Love
I believe God wants us to learn that loving others is better demonstrated than talked about. Not that it shouldn't be said, but I believe it is better shown, than told. Anyone can say, "I love you," but only those who mean it will demonstrate it in true and genuine ways that make words unnecessary. Understanding this is to know that loving someone does not mean you will allow them to use or take advantage of you, no matter what emotional “state” you might be in. Whether you’re seeking and desperately crying out for romantic love or just longing for it in silence, you need to understand what God wanted for us, in love. Understanding God's definitions of love means you know you’re always a child of a loving God, and that you deserve to receive and to give to others a true and genuine kind of love.
I don’t think anyone should concentrate his or her entire search for love in the direction of romantic love. I think we all need to begin developing a more loving spirit towards others, in general, and doing this, I believe, will automatically open our lives to fuller, more blessed friendships and possibilities. I believe that when we learn to do this, we will actually begin to meet and attract more people into our lives than we ever could with hearts and minds that are only open to the idea of romantic love.
It’s true that everyone needs to love, and to feel loved. For this reason, I believe when we acknowledge the love God has for us, we immediately belong to His loving family. And, I believe that not accepting the love of God as a blueprint for loving others sends us on a lonely journey searching for someone to belong to. People embarking upon this desperate journey are bound to run into all kinds of negative influences promising (but not delivering) the love they crave. Accepting and acknowledging God's love, I believe, gives the gift of “belonging” and “identity” that all humans need and crave.