“My love is rotten to the core…” —David Lee Roth
We don’t understand love.
We don’t trust love.
We often reject it when we encounter it.
It confuses us because we so rarely experience it. We’re taught from childhood that love is a transaction. That it’s a feeling you get when you focus affection on someone and they return the affection. A feeling of affirmation of being worthy of that affection. If we’re worthy of that trade, then we’re worthy of being loved.
Except that isn’t love.
The older I get, the more I contemplate the possibility that real love is only possible in the case of unequal partners, the loved and the loving. It seems that real love can only go in one direction—it can’t exactly be reciprocated. Because if you can get it back as you gave it, it becomes a trade.
I think that’s why God us male and female, and why God’s design for martial love depends upon those principles.
Male and female are complimentary, and therefore render us not equal. My masculinity is greater than my wife’s, and her femininity is greater than mine, and we love each other out of the unequal abundance of those male and female principles.
In fact, it’s usually the aspects of our being that are the most equal in which the biggest problems arise. Don’t you find the greatest conflicts in your life with those people that you have the most in common with and are the most alike?
And anyway, love can’t be just a feeling of a pleasant emotional trade. Not real love. Real love can’t just be a feeling, because real love can hurt like hell. Literally.
Real love knows darkness. Real love knows pain. Real love knows sharp edges and ragged breaths and aching longings and blood and loss. The Real Lover will go to any lengths—even death—to love the beloved.
There is no power on earth or in heaven that can stop Real Love.
Certainly not the failings of the beloved. In fact, I honestly think those flaws may be at least part of what makes it possible for God to love us in the first place.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that God, being the source and First Cause of everything that is, should properly be considered the ultimate male principle. So whether man or woman, we are all female to God.
He is infinite; we are finite. He is infinitely good; we are evil. He is all-powerful; we are powerless. He is transformative; we consistently devolve when left to our own devices.
We cannot love God as He loves us.
We comprise the negative pole of a system that allows love to flow from Him to us. We’re the naughty children. He’s the wise parent. We’re the low potential. He is the high potential.
Sometimes we reject God’s love because we feel we don’t deserve it, which is the worst nonsense ever. Of course we don’t deserve it—that’s the whole point of God offering it. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it in the first place.
We desperately need God. He chooses us. Think about the difference.
And don’t get the idea that I think our failings or flaws are good because they provide God an opportunity to love, or that God needs us to be able to love—our triune God doesn’t need us for that either, and the hot second flaws become good is the same instance at which they no longer need God’s transformative power.
I quoted DLR above from a song by Van Halen called, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” I think Diamond Dave was onto something. When we contemplate love, we’re really not talking about Real Love most often.
I challenge you to spend a few minutes this week thinking about Real Love. God’s love. And ask yourself if there’s any place in your life and your heart which you are playing Keep-Away from God’s Love.
I bet there is. And I bet if you investigate, you’ll find that the reason why might be that you don’t feel worthy of it.
Well, you’re not. It’s o.k., neither am I. Neither is anyone you have ever known.
That’s the whole point.