Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Love?

Proverbs 18:24- A man with friends is to show himself friendly, And there is a lover adhering more than a brother.
1 Corinthians 13:11- When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

There is a popular song by a hip-hop artist playing incessantly on the airwaves today called “How to Love.” Its popularity and its question made me think and question myself  because the lyrics in the song are haunting and sadly true,but,offer no guidance, no solid information on how to love, it just states the object of the song doesn’t know how to love herself or a man. Have you ever asked yourself that question…do I know how to love someone intimately (this is not a question about your children or family)? To you, what is love? Your answer to that question will define the kind of relationships you find yourself in. The problem is few have a research and data driven answer to that question as if acquiring that information taints the feeling of it and that feelings based love is all there is--laughable to me, loving from logic first actually will  strengthen/deepen the feelings that follow, while vice-versa doesn’t and frequently leads to deception.
When asked what is love most will offer you a feeling based answer or parrot a philosophy they heard preached or taught somewhere—saying the words (philia, eros, storge, thelema & agape) without knowing their true meanings for themselves.  I am a firm believer that if you allow someone to define something for you and passively accept information you will live without authenticity until a crisis shakes you out of your unawares. Nothing is more devastating emotionally than discovering what you thought was…isn’t. Sadly, that is the state most of us find ourselves in before we really start to question our feelings and the people we feel for. We skillfully wound ourselves, unconsciously incompetent at best, consciously incompetent at worst. Refusing to accept to love well is a learned skill dependent upon the two individuals choosing to enter that state and that you CHOOSE what you let into your feelings gate—good or bad. No one can MAKE you feel anything, not chemistry, not lust, not their great body, their fat bank account, or your shared passions. You get to direct your will to like, love, share time with a person. You choose. Feelings don’t force you to ---even if you say to yourself “but, I can’t help it, I love him/her” (makes me cringe and is an immature cop-out J). Stop it. Your body is not doing a thing against your initiation despite what it feels like. You have to make a conscious effort to see, talk, listen to, touch, have sex, and feel for a person! You feel like you’re on autopilot because of the powerful hormones at work on your brain that you cracked open getting into an illicit relationship with them…but that’s not an excuse either. You can right those hormones but its going to HURT… learn to always question anything/anyone that makes you feel weak-willed from the start, that’s not love you’re feeling—that’s a chemical imbalance that will dictate what you do if you let it. It’s wise to stay away from things/people you can’t control yourself around. Once you’ve gotten there though you will have to discipline yourself and suffer through withdrawals, the pain none of us wants to experience (heartbreak), yet that pain is a messenger and a great teacher if you grasp the lesson it will teach you well that the desire is not worth the discipline for the next time. Be wise. Look deep BEFORE you leap. Save yourself some grief.

Is there a better way to choose to love then? That is the right question to ask then answer FOR YOUR SELF. Few of us have had healthy relationships modeled for us to guide us. Fortunately, God Himself gives us guidance and then allows us to meet, make up our minds about someone as a love interest or not. His way is very simple actually and He created us to be in healthy relationships although so few of us are. We have to be willing to BE in a relationship to GET into one. Relationships are not wandering around looking for people to force into them. Isn’t that great? See, you don’t have to if you don’t want to! Nor will you die if you stay out of intimate relationships. In fact, I encourage you to. See how long you can go without being with the opposite sex beyond work/church. Inability to do so is an indication you’re probably being led around by feelings and desperation. Commit to a minimum 8 week period of no dating, texting, calling. Especially no contact or double backs with your ex.  Learn this fact-- if someone doesn’t want you; you don’t have to want them either. You can stop feeling that way about them if you choose to because God gives you a strong and powerful thing…your will and mind …it’s just you’ve shut them off preferring feelings and have to learn again how to control yourself and that Good-bye is a necessary life skill. Learn and practice it as needed!
Personally I don't think relationships should be as hard as we make them. Knowing as much as possible about a person before you commit feelings to them is wise. It’s not a time thing either…telling someone to wait 90 days as a rule of thumb before getting into a relationship is silly to me. I can make my mind up in as few as a couple of conversations/days. My litmus test is prayer—I pray for God to show me who this person really is and He does, putting me and that person in situations that expose things in ways that I know it’s Him answering my prayer. I get to see how this person responds to things and answer the question of at least on the surface do we share the same things that are important to me like integrity, can they make me laugh, do they consistently treat me well (people can act nice only for so long…how do they treat you when things aren’t nice?), can I trust them (trustworthy people do trustworthy things),  are they good parents (I don’t have children but welcome being a stepmom); do they put in time, attention and consistently put our relationship over their individual needs? Those are the things Cheryl’s learned she needs to feel loved and to love in return. Without those key things for me, I just won't allow myself to feel more than love for you as a friend. I have learned every male friend I have is not a romantic interest for me. I will remain single until a man demonstrates and inspires all of those things to me and in me consistently and in that I am content because I don’t want A RELATIONSHIP I want the RIGHT RELATIONSHIP for me and the person I’m in it with.

 Beloved, you were created for relationship and thrive best in right relationships not just a relationship (Ecclesiastes 4:10-11). Our awesome God gave us the ability to direct our will towards it or away from it, He did that even in choosing or not choosing to be in relationship with Him. God is into free will. He created it and gave it as a gift to His creation made in His image. Learning to love from your free will and not your emotions and just feelings is wise and necessary.  I am praying with you and for you.

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(c) Copyright 2011 Cheryl Carr and ARETE1 International. Use without written permission strictly prohibited

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