The Perfect Path to Perfect Love
Love is Not Selfish or Mean-Spirited
God's perfect love for us demonstrates His goodness. It is clear, and not confusing. It is solid, reasonable and reassuring, and never flighty or insecure. The Bible teaches us, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." Giving His son to us as a gift of love was God’s sacrificial way of demonstrating His love for humanity.
Through The Gospel of Mark, we learn that real love is not only unselfish; it also satisfies our human need for praise. God said to Jesus "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). This Scripture teaches that love is not selfish or mean-spirited. It doesn’t withhold praise or expressions of appreciation. It is expressive and demonstrative, and it seeks to bring about contentedness, comfort, and security. God's love is a perfect love and I believe it is from God’s perfect love that we must learn how to love someone else, romantically or platonically. God’s love is the only love that can guide us in knowing when we love someone, and when someone loves us in return.
True Love Acts in Loving Ways
True or real love is not just something we have for another person, it also involves things we do for and to another person. If you think you love someone, and you know you're not acting in loving ways toward that person, then you probably need to explore the idea that you might not actually love the other person. You may have feelings for him or her, but love might not be the appropriate word you need to describe those feelings, because true love will demonstrate itself through goodness. As the Bible teaches (1John 4:18), "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
The idea that true love demonstrates goodness is backed up by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 4:29) who warned us to “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” When we have love for another person, we care whether or not the things we say to them or about them are helpful or hurtful. We do our best to hold back hateful, bitter words, because we know hurtful words can leave a scar that nothing can erase. Therefore, choosing words wisely is one way to demonstrate/express goodness towards those we love.
Walking Your Talk
Love needs to be acknowledged and communicated, and not acknowledging or communicating it in some clear and unmistakable way is grounds for serious questions about whether or not love actually exists. Real love does not leave a feeling of "incompleteness" or uncertainty about whether or not it’s there, in our relationship with those we say we love. And it’s also true that real love does not attempt to substitute material possessions for the need for acknowledgment and communication. Instead, real love teaches us that material gifts are more valued when they are given as a physical representation of real love, rather than as a replacement for it.
Understanding and Embracing God’s Definition of Love
Understanding the love of God is the first step toward understanding the foundation for what we are to give and to get, in romantic love relationships. Even though anyone can say he or she is in love with someone (usually a celebrity) who does not even know they exist, it’s not actually possible to be in love by yourself. While it is possible to have platonic love for someone you don’t know, who does not know you, the idea of being “in love” means you have a love relationship with someone else; it means you and that person are both be participating the relationship.
The Bible teaches in no uncertain terms that love is the greatest thing there is, but it also chastens us to be mature and sober about love. We learn a lot about the nature of love in 1st Corinthians 13: 4-13. This Scripture, in the King James Version, used the word “charity” which means “love for humanity.” This Scripture (from the New International Version (NIV) teaches:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
When looking for love, adult men and women must be ready to do the work needed to be in a healthy, fulfilling romantic love relationship. Before I begin looking again for love, I believe it is important for me to first seek to build friendships with men who can demonstrate to me that they understand my worth and value as a human being. As a self-respecting person, since I don’t disrespect me, I know I cannot allow other people to disrespect me either. Therefore, I will never offer myself as prey to a predator. Because I am consciously aware of what it means to truly love God and myself, I know what to expect from other people who claim to love me.
Attired in The Love of God
Being attired first in the love of God equips me with the knowledge that I need to look for a man who can appreciate intelligence, confidence, and strength in a woman. It enables me to know I’m only interested in attracting—for the possibility of a romantic love relationship—men who desire to be blessed with a woman who knows herself as well as what she wants out of life. Because I am strong and whole, I will seek to attract and enjoy meeting men who are also strong and whole human beings. The man I’m looking for does not need me or anyone else to “complete him,” by plugging a hole in his soul. That is something all of us must go to God for; to fill the “God-sized” hole I believe is in the soul of all humans, and only God can fill it.
I believe that opening up your mind to the love of God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, is the way to allow your soul to be prepared to receive love. I believe accepting and understanding God’s love is the first step on the journey to understanding what true love really is. Once we allow God’s love to teach us how to love, our romantic relationships will be more satisfying, more fulfilling, and more likely to bring a sense of security and true happiness to our lives. Feeling the love of God in your heart and in your mind empowers you to understand that pure love endures. It endures hardships and turbulent times, it doesn’t disappear at the first sign of adversity, and it doesn’t fade away as soon as wrinkles and gray hair begins to appear on your body. When the energy and vibrant elixir of youth is replaced with the wisdom and grace of aging, true love only grows stronger and even more nurturing and caring. Because true romantic love endures, it is something to that is to be respected, celebrated, and treasured, joyfully, throughout your time on Earth with the one you love.
I hope this article of Hope for building a strong personal foundation for romantic love will help anyone who is looking for “Mr. or Miss Right.” If you’re looking, I hope this article has helped you to see first the need we all have to understand and appreciate the love of God in our lives, before beginning the search for that special someone. Like you, I’m also still hopeful that I will one day meet a man, find romantic love, and get married. That’s a dream I’ve had since I was a child, and I will never abandon the hope and promise of that dream. But, even if it is never fulfilled, I will live my life—every day, as a whole, spirit-filled, loving person who loves God, and who demonstrates love for myself, and for other people.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD