He loves me (pluck), he loves me not (pluck), he loves me (pluck), he loves me not (pluck)
Did you play that game? Pluck a petal from a flower while saying the words and whatever you said on the last petal was the truth. He loved you, or he didn’t.
Maybe your mama told you about the apple stem? How you said a letter with every twist of the stem and the letter you said when the stem came off was the initial of the boy who liked you.
Those were children’s games we played but we’ve grown up. So we play grown up games. We take the magazine quizzes and buy the books and watch the movies and t.v. shows and we get swept up and away with Olivia and Fritz or the latest Hollywood couple.
I loved when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were on screen together. Or Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Those were love stories. They had challenges to overcome and love won! They gave us all the feels and everything worked out in the end.
Just like your marriage. Right?
Lean in a little closer and I’ll tell you a secret…..I didn’t get butterflies on my first date with Henry. Or on the second or third.
I’m not sure I’m a butterfly feeling kind of girl but sort of. There was something different stirring when I was particularly interested in someone or when the dates really clicked but it wasn’t happening with Henry. He was undeniably handsome. I mean really good looking. And a nice guy. Very nice. Daddy even liked him and he’d only liked one other guy I ever dated.
It was clear Henry was interested in me as he called often and continued to ask me out. It wasn’t clicking for me like it had before but, friends, I was confused, uncertain about a lot, and a 19-year-old mess.
I didn’t realize it then, but my parents divorce 6 years prior and the constant moving had devastated me. It didn’t show on the outside. I was a happy young woman enjoying life. I’d had a serious relationship a year before and another that had sparks flying but left me confused and what did I really know of love? I didn’t. I bought what Glamour magazine and the movies were selling and it wasn’t about love at all.
I’d never included God in my dating life. I’m not sure it ever occurred to me. But I did what I’d never done before, I prayed for God to reveal to me if I should keep dating this guy. He was being quite persistent and I felt like I needed to know if this was going anywhere so I prayed I’d feel something. We’ve been married 38 years so I guess you know how that turned out.
Our daughter was in 5th grade when she talked about a classmate ‘going out’ with a boy. “Where are they going?”, I asked. I was fairly certain the term wasn’t literal but wanted to open this conversation.
When the whole liking business started with our kids I knew heartbreak was coming. Young hearts are fragile and tender and you know they aren’t likely to marry the first one they date but they aren’t thinking about the future past the next moment. They just want to be liked by someone they like. They want the feelings. (Maybe our grown-up selves haven’t changed as much as we think.)
We are bombarded with a distorted view of love. We drop the word for everything from our favorite song to God.
We equate romantic love with feelings, nothing more than feelings and only good feelings. The Greek word for this kind of love is eros, from which we get the word erotic.
A study of the Greek words for love from McLean bible church describes eros this way:
“It is a love that is an emotional involvement based on body chemistry. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction.”
Self-satisfaction, that seems right today. What do I get out of this? What will you do for me? How do you make me feel? I deserve someone to make me happy.
As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”
We can’t deny that eros plays a part in initial attraction. But it’s not sustainable, not in any kind of healthy way because it is a self-serving love.
There is this other love, the Agape love, that describes the love God has for us. This word for love has been seldom used outside the Bible but it is an extraordinary love that only God can fully possess. It’s a love that loves even when not returned. It loves the unworthy and unlovable. McLean Bible Church says, “It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.” It is unconditional.
This is why the bible says God is love. (1 John 4:8)
We’ll never be able to love like God loves us but he gives us clear guidelines on what love is and isn’t.
Love never gives up and cares for others more than self. It doesn’t keep score and puts up with anything.
Those are a few ways 1 Corinthians 13 from the Message describes love.
That’s what God shows us when he lavishes his love on us, love we can’t earn and don’t deserve.
I’m blessed to have a husband who is easy to love. But I’m still part of this duo and I can be impatient, anxious and too quick to speak.
We have had difficult times and shared angry words. Worse, we’ve not shared any words and pulled away in silence at the hurt caused by the other. But we stayed because love never gives up. One day at a time. We stayed in the same house, the same room, the same bed. Time wore the rough edges down and grace came to stay.
But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 the Voice