What is love supposed to look like? Should it feel like a thunderbolt, an overwhelming feeling of euphoria, or is it supposed feel like a slow cooker full of your favourite soup ingredients… A magical stew? I think love is just that… a magical stew that is comforting and exciting all at the same time. It can be like jumping out of an airplane and it can feel like a cozy pair of socks. Love grows and transforms. Love itself transforms as it does the people within its grasp.
When love is brand new, it’s an exciting, unknown, seemingly unending series of new discoveries.
What does love look like? What is love supposed to feel like? I don’t know how it’s supposed to look like to you… only to me, but I do know what I believe love should be based on. I also know what relationships should be based on and yet as I write this to you, I understand that it’s more than just a list. It’s more than a group of tick boxes that we feel must be met. I suppose, what I’ve learned is that it’s a combination of things I need to believe and trust. Things that are real and valid and which match quite well, who it is that I am as a person and as a man of God. It partly means feeling a sense of attraction (physical and otherwise). I’ve learned that while physical attraction may start the ball rolling, emotion, intellect and spiritual elements also come into the mix to become fully interdependent within the context of feeling or knowing love. The more I see someone as a match in my mind, my heart and my spirit, the more they become increasingly attractive to me, both inwardly and outwardly.
I can honestly tell you that after years of experiencing relationships and trying for love… In my mind, love is a warm blanket, a warm pool of water. It is something that surrounds you and gives you a sense of comfort and trust. The hardest part about love though is trust. Can I trust love? Can I trust those that I love not to hurt me. The simple answer to that question is… no! You can’t trust that you won’t be hurt, disappointed or let down at one time or another throughout the course of a relationship. The only exception to this rule is of course God. He is the only One who can love us unconditionally. In fact, we receive a perfect love from Him and yet, we offer back a flawed and broken love. I believe we do so in the best way that we are able, but in our broken state He still accepts us. I don’t think we can trust “love”, but instead must learn to trust the person we are in love with based on their character.
True love is patient. True love is kind. True love is about acceptance. True love seeks to empower and esteem the other without need for repayment. True love is a bond. It is not a combination of well chosen platitudes, a collection of words or physical expressions. True love is a life long commitment based on a variable mix of ingredients and which at its core, means being self sacrificing and giving.
What does choosing love look like exactly? Love is different to each person because God has created all of us to be different. I can’t tell you what love is supposed to look like to you… only you can define it what it looks like to you. I do believe though, that there are no guarantees in love. There is no way to know how love will ultimately work out. I believe love is something you must let go to… just like we do when we give our lives to Jesus. It’s an adventure, an exploration and as we submit to it, it grows, becomes stronger and we become wiser and better in the process. It’s about trust!
I also have to wonder… what about confirmation. Peace or release. What does it look like to walk confidently into love (a relationship). I know that I completely understand and relate to what people are saying when they talk about having a release from God. There are times however where that just doesn’t come or happen. We are called to step out on faith “with God” in those times. God will walk with us through those unknown pathways, but we need to be paying attention to what He has to tell us while we do. One thing we do need to be sure of though is that the path we’re about to strike out on is in keeping with His Heart, His Mind and His Character. How do I know what that looks like. Well, I have to trust that I’ve learned from God and that some of what He’s been teaching me has rubbed off on me. For me, when it comes to “knowing” or having confidence in another person, I look for agenda harmony and I also have a sense about them based on what I see and feel. I must also have faith because I feel I can trust in who they represent themselves to be. How they choose to act. How they demonstrate their character.
OK… let’s assume that you’ve met someone and they’re “all that” for you. They embody for you all of the elements that I’ve mentioned and more. You feel genuine love for them and have gotten to know them for let’s say 6 months or so. You trust them, you have seen that they are consistent in their character and they are someone you are drawn to and trust. You see the person as someone you truly believe you could spend the rest of your life with and so… you tell them exactly that! It’s a reasonable statement to make if you’ve both been clear about being interested in settling down and getting married. In my experience, there have been times where I’ve been asked, “How can you know that about me so confidently?” or “How can you be so sure about me”? I’m going to be brutally honest on this point! Dependent on your perspective, that’s an awful question to ask because it seems so self condemning and self doubting! Do you not know yourself or who you are? How do you see yourself? Do you not value yourself as highly as I obviously do if I’m telling you that I’m confident in what I see in you? Why would you find it so hard to believe that someone can be so confident about you? Speaking from my experience, if I find myself ready to offer the trust I’ve just mentioned, it’s because there’s more than just a feeling in my heart. It’s because I feel love for you, but also because you fall in line with my values and goals. You stimulate me! When I hear “How can you know that about me?” or “How can you be so sure?”, that’s an instant red flag to me and a few questions instantly leap to mind. Are you serious about being in a relationship? Can you commit or are you afraid to? Are you wondering if something better will come along? Do you have trouble with trust? Do you have value issues with me or are you concluding that I may not be the same thing for you and you’re having trouble finding the courage to tell me? I’m not talking about not being in the same place in terms of your being able to identify whether I “tick all the boxes” for you. That’s a different scenario and it’s also reasonable that you might not yet be in that place relative to the time we’ve spent together (I just hope you’d have the ability to tell me the truth as you see it). If however, you tell me that I DO represent all of the things that are important to you when it comes to knowing whether “I’m the guy” and yet you wonder HOW I could see that “YOU are the girl”, then you’ve just scared the crap out of me and I’d now probably doubt your readiness or willingness to be in a lifelong relationship! It would make me wonder if you really ARE ready or if you truly believe in what you say that you are looking for. I would wonder if you have the ability to identify what you need in a relationship. If you are expressing doubts of any kind because I may not be the right person for you and you’re just unsure, then you’d better be honest about it, because I’m a part of this situation too!
I will go back to the questions “How can you know?” or “How can you be so sure?”. Rather than further challenging you, I will just say that if you hear me tell you that I believe you’re the girl for me, it is because I’ve made the decision based on what I see in you! This is what you would know about me or have heard me say,
“I see in you a woman who has great and consistent character. I see in you someone who is selfless and giving to a fault! I see in you someone who is wise, deliberate and yet compassionate and caring. I see in you someone who is creative and highly intelligent. I see in you someone who has a wonderful sense of humour. I adore your taste in music, your political views and insight and your social conscience. I admire in you, your willingness to be open and to self-evaluate and remain open to change. I admire your willingness to be wrong and to own it. A willingness to participate in discussions and then actually reflect upon them. To then see you truly, humbly and honestly adjust your view accordingly because you trust that I will do likewise. I admire how when you’re right and I’m wrong, you do the same for me! I admire that you are committed to your beliefs but you are not head strong. Now to the spiritual side of you… I love your insight into God’s heart. I love your commitment to God. I love your declarations that you “will not be separated from the Love of God” for me or anyone! I love that you model that in your life. I love that you openly pray. I love that you are trying to be and get closer to God’s heart. I love that you are not legalistic and that you reflect upon God’s heart and character when you evaluate scripture or when you hear about how people conduct themselves. I love how you explain your faith and how you see the Heart of God. I also see you as the most beautiful woman and that you have the most lovely voice! I Love the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you wear your hair and the way that you are just yourself. Most of all though… I love how all of those things make me see you. It’s not one thing, but all of them that make me feel about you the way that I do. It’s just you and who you are. I accept and love you for you! That’s it and that’s all.”
If after hearing that and trusting that I’m sincere in what I’m saying because you know my character, then how could you doubt how I could know that about you?
It’s completely OK and fully understandable that two people won’t necessarily arrive at the same conclusion at the same time. All of us live, learn, trust and love at different rates. Being in a relationship and falling in love however, carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Probably the greatest responsibility we have is to be honest with ourselves. There is no way we’ll ever know how we truly feel about the other person unless we’ve taken the time to get to know ourselves, our likes, dislikes, values, goals and faith. We also need to see ourselves as someone of value and who is truly ready and committed to being in an honest and open relationship!
What are we supposed to choose for our lives? This is again up to us, but we have to make a choice. It’s not easy, especially with all of the crap most of us have gone through in our lives if you’re on the more mature side (age) and been around the block a few times. We do have a choice though and that choice should be relatively easy if we’ve done our homework and really gotten to know ourselves and what we need in a relationship. It’s what separates “love feeling like a thunderbolt” or being merely a feeling and truly knowing a deep, connected and bonded love! It’s not some flight of fancy, it takes sober, considered and deliberate thought and choice. If you can’t say that you’ve entered into a relationship without having done this work… then don’t enter a relationship. It would be unfair to represent yourself as ready and unless you are very, very lucky, you are likely to merely feel love and not truly know it!
Does love feel like a thunderbolt? I think love can feel like a thunderbolt, a magical stew or whatever kind of metaphor you want to substitute!. I think that after the the thunderbolt, love definitely needs to feel like a warm blanket, to feel like home, safe and secure!
Yes, love can feel like a thunderbolt, but I think it should be about more than just feelings. I think it needs too look like one too!