When Soap Operas Compete with Jesus: a Treatise on Love

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You

I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet
Then tell me

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”

Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain

And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep

He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding

Love’s definition, love’s definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree
I began to weep and weep and weep and weep

This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is

And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love
He said to me:

“You shall love Me, You shall love Me
You shall love Me, You shall love Me”

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me
And You’ll come alive when you learn to die

What was or is your definition of love? Mine was defined by watching four soap operas every day between the ages of 9 and 16.

I don’t recommend that.

Not only because that much television is bad for the eyes and the brain, but for reasons far more dire than that:

because it can ruin love for a lifetime.

It almost ruined love for me.

Luckily, Jesus came and pulled me out and promised me a new life. He wasn’t going to wipe out my past transgressions, though.

I used to believe that “true love” meant having a soul mate, meant passion 24/7, meant love not accountable nor responsible.

Love was supposed to be fun and exciting all the time and did not require work.

As the song above, written by Misty Edwards, says, I thought love was for the “beautiful and the lucky.”

And Felicia and Frisco from “General Hospital” were, indeed, beautiful and lucky. Their love story spurned many daydreams about my soul mate coming to one day rescue me.

Real love is not about running off impulsively to the nearest wooded area to passionately make love. It’s not about being trapped on an island and, through a variety of coincidences too hard to believe, the man you’ve always loved hops on a boat and speeds to your rescue. Real love is not only for the externally beautiful and thin.

Though I had a fictitious and, frankly, dangerous view of love for my entire life, when I came to Jesus, I had no idea what hit me.

Such a love was unfathomable.

There I was, at my lowliest, dirty with sin and betrayal. At my complete worst. And God looked at me and saw something worth saving. He saw beauty, He saw worth. He saw the woman He created but who I had discarded long ago.

Once accepting Christ’s love in that moment of being saved, literally, I realized that God’s love is full of accountability and responsibility. I knew this would be hard for me to understand because my kind of love had neither of those things. I was impulsive and ruled by my hormones.

God taught me that His love is based on forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

I didn’t need to be anyone I wasn’t, do anything I shouldn’t. I didn’t need to dress up or dress down. I didn’t need to put make up on; on the contrary.

God wanted to make me up.

And while God prunes me, I grapple with my old view of love and how that almost destroyed my ability to love my own husband the way God calls me to.

I grapple with feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and failure.

I grapple with hurting my husband with distance and disinterest.

I realize, though, that it is because of fear.

I thought this emptiness meant something was wrong with me. What if I was in some kind of debilitating depression? I had been before, Lord knows, so what if something was askew in my brain chemicals?

No, I know what true depression feels like. And this emptiness didn’t feel like depression. It brought on discouragement, but I was not without hope. Which meant this was not depression.

What I think is happening is God has emptied me out in order to fill me up.

I have prayed and prayed to truly understand God’s love for me. Why and how He sacrificed for me, such a horrible sinner.

Why on earth did God choose that moment in time, when I was at my worst, on the floor in tears and covered in the mud of sin; why did God choose that moment in time, after 31 years, to open my eyes?

That, in itself, is love.

And my husband was a key player to that door being opened.

Because somehow, in the midst of immense pain, he opened his heart enough to feel God’s pull, to feel God’s urging to tell me about Him.

What does love look like? Love looks like sacrifice. Not just Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – though that is the ultimate act of love – but my own husband’s love for me despite all that I had done.

*

Today I spent the morning and early afternoon at a beautiful cafe tucked in the woods.

Cafe in the woods

I listened to Misty Edwards’ music for the first time and my heart poured open like a geyser.

I got it. I felt it. I understood how turned-around my heart has been all this time and how I need to reorient it towards Christ and fill my needs up with Christ and look to Christ for validation and acknowledgement.

And how, once filled with Christ’s love, I can better love my husband.

Because he is home, waiting. He is home, hurting, feeling my distance and pain. He feels lonely and discouraged.

And now I must dash off, leave these wooded arms, and go home to 3D Man and hold him tightly, reassure him of my love, now that I have a glimmer of what love is.

This felt like an earth-shattering day, but all I did was open my heart to feel what God had been pouring down on me since the beginning of time.

I read some books, looked at some blogs, listened to a lot of music, scribbled down a poem-of-sorts, and wrote in my journal.

But the most important thing I did was open my heart to feel God.

*

I was trapped on an island. Jesus hopped on a boat and came to my rescue. Only Jesus is my Savior. Only Jesus is my One and Only.

“And You can love me more in a moment

than other lovers could in a lifetime.”

~ Steffany Frizzell in “The More I Seek You + Spontaneous”

*

1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

On knees, head low, arms high…

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