Thursday, February 18, 2010

Talking about love again

Seems to be a theme this month. Oh, yeah...Valentine's Day!

Have you recovered yet? Did the hype and expectations come through? Or did you wake up the next day with tears and chocolate stains on your pillow because things didn't work out like you hoped?

I've written before about Valentine's Day (2009, 2004). Sure, it's nice to express your love in a fun, romantic way. And what girl doesn't like receiving gifts? But as I told you last year, I would rather have the sometimes-boring, steady, daily kind of love that quietly endures the bad stuff than all the flashy red hearts and flowers in the world.

During another touching sermon by my pastor on Sunday, he choked up talking about the kind of love he has witnessed in his many years of ministry. It reminded me of some friends who went through an awful time a few years ago.

Everyone knows at least one couple like this. They bicker, they complain about each other, they crack you up with their stories (sometimes to the point of too much information). The guy is just a few years away from grumpy old man status. But when his wife had a sudden and very serious health crisis, he turned into a knight in shining armor. I realize now that he was probably always that knight...just in subtle, private ways.

So now that another Valentine's Day is over but still fresh in your memory, think about the kind of love that is really worth having. The fire of romantic love is wonderful, but it does not last. It's nice to receive those public displays like flowers arriving at your desk. But it's what happens in private - how we care for each other when nobody is looking - that really matters.

That's the kind of love you build a life on.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

PS: I love me

One more thing from my pastor's sermon on Sunday about love.

Today's culture presents love (especially the couple relationship) in a lot of screwed up ways. One hour at the gym glancing at those ridiculous music videos they play convinces me of that. But one thing in particular is completely, 180 degrees backwards. That would be the premise that "you can't love anyone else until you love yourself".

The truth is, loving yourself is a result of loving long as that love is expressed or practiced or experienced within those guidelines from good 'ol 1 Corinthians 13. When you treat others with patience, kindness and respect, avoiding jealousy, rudeness, selfishness and anger, you are loving them. And we are called to do just that, whether we happen to be feeling love for ourselves or not.

When I was growing up, we spent a lot of holidays at my aunt's home. On the wall in her living room was a plaque that read:

A song is not a song until you sing it.
A bell is not a bell until you ring it.
Love was not put in our hearts to stay.
For love is not love until you give it away.

Give it a try. Next time you are feeling not-so-great about yourself, reach out to someone and treat them in a loving way. Then see how the way you feel about yourself changes. Even if they don't respond in kind, your outlook will change because you have acted in love.

I think I'll take my own advice on this today.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What love is, and what it isn't

"I punch guys in the face for a living."

So said the tough-looking dude in the seat next to me to the guy next to him on a flight from Denver to Southern California. He was wearing pants with the "Tapout" logo and had quite a few tatoos. When I glanced over he seemed familiar. Found out he was a mixed martial arts fighter (for the WEC) as well as the owner of several gyms.

Most of the conversation was between the two guys. When the tough guy mentioned that he has two daughters, I immediately grinned imagining the looks on the faces of any suitors who asked one of the daughters for the first time what her Dad does for a living. Heh heh.

And a few minutes later I came to know just how fortunate those girls are to have this professional fighter as a Dad when he pulled out his Bible. Now, it's not that I think only men of faith can be good fathers. It's that - whether you believe or not - the Bible has a lot of great stuff, especially about love.

My pastor's sermon last Sunday was on this very topic. He mentioned those awful segments on some daytime TV shows about couples where one is totally abusive and the other justifies staying with their abuser because "I love him/her". Don't you just want to scream at the television..."WHY??? THAT! IS! NOT! LOVE!"

So what is love? It's all laid out there in 1 Corinthians 13; it is patient, it is kind, it bears all things, it never fails. Love is not jealous, pompous, or boastful. It is not rude. It is not easily angered, and it does not keep a record of wrongs.

(Read the whole awesome chapter here.)

The best thing you fathers can do for your daughter is to follow the Bible's guidelines on love...especially in how you treat her mother. Give your daughter a model of love so she knows what love is, and what it isn't. That goes for your sons too...they watch you to learn how to treat a woman, and how they should be treated by her. And they will know how to defend and build up their sisters when they are not being treated right by a guy.

Although it does not seem like it a lot of the time, parents are still the most influential people in a child's life...that goes for the good and the bad. There are a lot of influences out there in the culture. When it comes to love, who would you like your children to emulate?

So besides having an automatic (and healthy) fear of a Dad who punches guys in the face for a living, that fighter's daughters have a man who looks to God for guidance. Lucky girls.