Love is Not

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7

 

Love.

 

Everyone has a different idea of what this means, but who is actually right? Well, I guess one could say that there is no correct answer, but there are characteristics in which love is not.

Love is not being with your significant other 24/7.

 

This applies to being with your significant other physically, virtually, or even emotionally. Sure, their company is great. But like all things, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. You do not have to physically be in the presence of the person to be with them. The obvious example of that is through texting, Skyping, and other mediums of social media. But the other method that is often overlooked is emotionally or psychologically. If you are constantly thinking about the person, wondering where they are at this particular moment, what they are doing, who they are with, then in a sense, you are still with them.

 

A definition of being in someone’s company is “to accompany or spend time with someone in order to prevent them from feeling bored or lonely”. If you are with them in your mind, then that prevents you from being present to where you physically are. Love is based on trust, not knowledge. Trust that they have your best interests in mind, for if you cannot believe this, then how can you call it love?

Love is not what you say.

 

Love is what you do. Everyone is capable of saying things, making promises, but it takes courage to follow through with what you say. Because of this, the value of actions is far higher than the value of words. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, and when words cannot express how you feel, show it. And I do not mean go out and buy your significant other a dozen roses, no. The littlest things with the purest intentions can have a great magnitude.

 

Love is not perfect.

 

It’s not like the movies. It’s not easy. It’s not as simple as fitting the glass slipper perfectly and then suddenly you have your happily ever after. Love requires compromise, sacrifice, and and suffering together. Love is about taking the flaws and working them into perfect imperfections. Love is about looking at the issues and instead of thinking “this is so hard, I can’t do this”, but rather thinking “yes, this is difficult but you are worth it”.

Love is not just between two people.

 

You are probably thinking, “You’re wrong, obviously it’s between two people. A man and a woman. One plus one equals two.” Yes, you are right. A relationship is between a man and a woman but love is between three people: a man, a woman, and God. A relationship without Christ cannot be pure love for “God is love” (John 3:16). It must be built on a strong foundation, and what stronger foundation than the Rock Himself?

 

You know how a lot of relationships start because of mutual friends? Let God be that mutual friend. Before pursuing any relationship, pursue a relationship with the Lord first. And like every relationship, it requires communication. Communicate with the Lord frequently. Share with Him your trials, your struggles, your worries, your joys and victories. Once that friendship has been set into place, then start scrolling through God’s Facebook profile for mutual friends.

 

Love is not at first sight.

 

Love doesn’t start from the moment you lock eyes from across the room. I mean, how can you claim to be “in love” with someone that you know nothing about, other than how they look? Infatuation can be at first sight, but love requires work. Discernment, to be exact.

 

What is discernment? Simply put, it is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, what is the Will of the Lord, and what is a worldly plan or want. Why is it important? Without discernment, one may follow what they want, what they may think is right but ultimately, is not what the Lord wants. They could be mislead by misinterpretations of what love is, which can cause them to pursue a relationship based on those misconceptions.

 

A common question that the youth have today is: “how do you know if the person you are with is the person you are meant to be with?” Well, through discernment! For me personally, when I am discerning a decision such as a service role, I will spend time in prayer and adoration and weigh all the possible options. Whichever one I feel most at peace with will be the path that I chose. When it comes to a relationship, what helps me most is using 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as my criteria. For every time the word “love” comes up, I replace it with the name of the person I am discerning for. For example:

 

“_______ is patient, _______ is kind. _______ does not envy, _______  does not boast, _______  is not proud.
_______  does not dishonor others, _______ is not self-seeking, _______ is not easily angered, _______  keeps no record of wrongs.
_______  does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
_______  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

If I disagree with any of the statement, I conclude that it is not a God-willed relationship. A priest told me a while ago, that instead of trying to find joy, I should become joy. The same goes for love, instead of looking for love, become love. Make every act, every work have the intention of love. Become love, and be with someone who does the same, for where there is love, there first must be God as God Himself is love.

 

Love is not what society tells us.

 

With all this said and done, I understand the struggles that come with being a youth in this day and age. Society tells us what they want us to think love is, and we buy into it. But, in reality, often they are telling us what love is not. The love that society portrays is superficial, shallow, and idealistic.

 

Most people, like me, believe the lies and in the end, they end up disappointed. For me, I fell into a relationship that seemingly was perfect, based on what I had believed what love was. I had wanted to be with my significant other all the time, and when physically that was not possible, I would spend hours waiting for my phone screen to light up stating that I had received a text from him. On the rather rare occasion that that did happen, I decided that the whole world could wait so that this text could be replied to. Looking back at it, I see how dumb it was. The communication was not there, and when there was communication, there were often misunderstandings due to the lack of voiced opinions prior. Love can mean missing your significant other, but it does not mean placing your happiness solely on this one person.

 

Words also had a powerful impact on me. Dreams for the future – our future – left me giddy and excited, blissfully ignorant. Excuses for date cancellations were weak, and I knew when they were a lie, but I always chose to “believe” them in order of maintaining peace. It didn’t matter how many times I was told “I love you” because I couldn’t see the love in his actions. Love is going beyond the words, and taking action.

 

Being a perfectionist, I strived for the picture perfect relationship that I saw in movies. There was the pursuit, the chase between two, one drawing back and “playing hard to get” and then the other racing after them, trying to make themselves into someone who is worth the other’s time. I wanted all the cute, intimate moments like walks through the park, being able to tell one another anything, etc. But the more I tried to get these results, the further and further I got from achieving them. I had an expectation for who my significant other was supposed to be and in the end my expectations were unrealistic. That wasn’t love, that was a dream, a fantasy. Now, I have begun to understand that you have to work with what you have, in cooperation with the other person. It takes two hands to clap, and just the same, it takes two people to find perfection among the imperfections.

 

And then there was the discernment, or rather, the lack thereof. Before, I didn’t know what discerning really was. I knew that it was a term that people in the CFC-Youth community often used, and was usually followed by the word “courtship”. I knew that it was praying about the relationship, so my discernment sounded a little like this:

 

“Dear Lord, if this was meant to work out, then let it work out. If not, well then it won’t work out.”

 

My flaw was obvious, I wasn’t asking the Lord for His opinion, I was basically saying, “Hey God, I’m going for this. If you don’t like it, make me pay for it later”. And that is the wrong attitude. You shouldn’t make up your mind before discerning, decision making should follow discernment. That way, upon entering into prayer, you can have the purest intentions of asking the Lord if this relationship is from Him. No external factors hindering the process, no influences, just a conversation between you and Him. And through this process, you can include the Lord in your potential relationship with your significant other. Many great things come in threes, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three groups of sacraments: the “sacraments of Christian initiation”, “sacraments of healing” and “sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful”, and then you, your significant other, and the Lord. It’s like the rule of thirds, but even better!

 

All in all, I’ve had my fair share of seeing what love is not. Not saying that my past relationship was not at all loving, it was, but most of the time, it was superficial love, and no side is at more fault. It is through misinformation and miseducation as to what love is that caused much of the hurt, but like all things there is always good that comes from the bad. Looking back, I can take the imperfections that I experienced, and view them as perfect flaws in the future.

 

Love is a lot of things, but ultimately, God is love. It is in Him where any questions or doubts we have will be answered. It is through trusting Him where we will understand love. And it is with Him where we will experience the greatest love. Love comes from God, so who better to show us what true love is than the Lord?

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:18-19

 


Eleanor Wong – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region