“The supreme ethic that God has given to us is the ethic of love. It is the Peak of all intellectual and emotional alignment. This thing we call love, which places value upon the other person of worth and is something to be protected.” – Dr. Ravi Zacharias
I can’t attempt to describe love without talking about God. if I attempt to describe Love, I am faced with an impossible task. God is so huge that my human mind can’t fathom the totality of who he is. I recalled a period in my journey where the concept of God’s love seemed alien to me. I really didn’t know how to receive and submerge myself in his love. I realised that I measured God’s love based on my experience in relationships. I was emotionally stuck, and didn’t have the tools to navigate my way out of my destructive mindset. I was in mental and emotional agony; I thought that the only way I could be loved by another is by giving something in return. In my despair, I sacrificed my honour. So I went on a relentless journey of attracting relationships where I gave and gave until I dishonoured the person whom God created me to be. I’m not just referring to my romantic relationships, but to all my relationships. I thought this was my struggle, my cross to bear. The more I gave, the more I was rejected. I became confused and lost in my need to feel loved and accepted. I felt my presence was never enough, and my pain became so deep that it eventually overflowed. One Sunday morning, in the middle of worship, my hand was raised, but my heart was shouting: “Help! Somebody rescue me!” I sank to my knees and wept uncontrollably until I felt a release. I felt a peace within my soul, and an assurance that I would be okay.
What I notice when people try to describe love, they say “love” is based on a feeling that draws them closer to a loved one. At the beginning of a relationship, this feeling helps the individuals to identify and acknowledge their deep desire to get to know each other better. However, after that phase, some relationships are tested through trials and challenges. At this point, both parties have an opportunity to go on a journey of experiencing how challenging it is to demonstrate love in the face of adversity. Some relationships take the challenge, while others amicably bow out and go their separate ways. When I think about love, I think of selflessness – getting to a point where all I am is laid bare before another individual and I have no fear of them seeing my vulnerability, struggle and pain.
The Love some of us describe has a price tag, and sometimes we offer it to the highest bidder. Love is God, and God is love. But when it comes to human interaction, some of us are willing to give a bit more and commit to that special person. Others might not have the capacity to go to that length. Our concept of love is influenced by different factors such as our background, upbringing, experiences, etc. Society has bombarded us with the idea that nothing is free, not even love. Human love is tagged with conditions and, sometimes, hidden agendas.
We sing about unconditional love, but I wonder whether we actually have the capacity to show unconditional love. Even God’s love, contrary to popular belief, is conditional. The story of redemption represents a love story between the Creator and his creation. God is willing to forgive us our sins, but first we must repent. Acceptance of us is not the same as acceptance of our behaviour. Our relationship has conditions: total submission to him, not out of manipulation, not out of rebellion, but out of reverence and love for him. God wants our heart, and without our heart yielding to him, we cannot experience his love. During my emotional meltdown, my heart was closed. I was guarded because of my pain. It was only when I opened up and decided to allow myself to receive his love that my journey of healing started.