An appropriate topic the day before Valentine’s Day, right?
I’ve been thinking lately about what love is, and what it isn’t. Love is kind and patient. It trusts, protects, perseveres and never fails. It is not rude and does not envy or hold grudges. It’s the thread woven into the greatest stories, and the beating pulse behind every heartbeat.
I know these things, but sometimes have a hard time pinpointing what it looks like in my life. My picture of what love is has certainly changed since getting married. It doesn’t match the fairy tale image that our society has hammered into our expectations. It’s less glamorous. More subtle and constant.
I am reading a book called Look and Live by Matt Papa, one of the worship leaders at my church. He describes love as this:
“Love is always a cost to me, a good for you, and a joy for both.”
When I first read that sentence, I stopped and re-read it like 12 times.
That’s it! It made so sense.
He gave an example of this. One time he was leading worship at a church somewhere, and a guy volunteered to give him a ride to the airport, which was two hours away. Matt thought — wow! what a kind, generous offer! — only to find out when he arrived that the guy also had to go to pick up his girlfriend. So while it was still nice of him, it didn’t really cost him much since he was going anyways.
On the other hand, if the guy had decided instead of taking him to the airport he was going to take Matt to the mall and buy him a ton of clothes, that would have cost the guy something and was certainly nice, but wasn’t really good for Matt because he really wanted to make his flight to go back home.
And let’s say the guy didn’t have ulterior motives for taking him to the airport, but complained the whole time… that wouldn’t be love either, since it was done begrudgingly out of duty or obligation.
So, in order for it to be love, it has to be a cost for me, a good for the other person and a joy for both.
Since reading that passage, love is a little easier to spot:
At our house, love take out the trash. It unloads our dishwasher. It puts a blanket on me when I fall asleep on the couch. It throws away my used tissues. It braves the cold weather to pick up Chinese take out. It cleans up the messes when our dog is sick. It remembers the things I like, and buys them when I’ve had a bad day.
It isn’t grandiose and probably will ever be the plot of a Disney movie, but it is deep and true and very real.