Love... its cost
I love ice cream. The cost of a good premium quart and I am set. Well, not really. Love is much more. There are all sorts of love. Romantic love, brotherly love, etc., but I want to get deeper. What does it cost to give love. You know, when maybe you don’t want to.
There was a season in my life when things were very hard. One day my father made the 5-hour drive to my house to spend the weekend with me. When he got out of the car, he could barely walk. He had fallen earlier in the week, off of his boat and into the side of another. No broken bones, but he had banged the heck out of himself. He was bruised, swollen, and in pain. And yet, he got in a car and drove 5 hours to be with me.
At that moment, the depth of his love hit me.
I am sure if you had asked me if my dad loved me I would have said yes. I mean, of course he did. Parents love their children. But when I saw the cost to him to love me, it penetrated me.
The Greeks have at least four different words for love—because they recognize there are different types of love. Impressed, don’t be. Sanskrit has 96 and Persian has 80. Robert Johnson in The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden writes, “Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love ... we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.”
I am not sure that it is a lack of words. Perhaps more words would help, but we have English words, such as compassion, romance, charity, desire, etc., that get at the various expressions of “love”. And quite frankly, we need to get deeper, below the idea that love is a “feeling”.
Don’t misunderstand. I have felt love. I just told you one such story. But that story, each time I tell it, deepens my realization of his love for me. It is not a “fleeting feeling”.
It seems to me that the challenge is not to find better words, but rather to be better AT loving. Loving God, loving others, for some loving self. In writing about the Gospel of John I blog about the RISK OF LOVE. In this post, I want to actually ask you a question.
What does love look like for you?
Why do I ask? Because I think we know what it looks like. We see it when someone is giving it—not when we are getting it.
The Bible describes it in 1 Corinthians 13. What is remarkable about this “wedding passage” is that it is written to how we, in the church, are supposed to treat each other.
What does loving God, another person, or yourself, cost you?
I am imaging that in response to the first question (what it looks like) you are describing scenes and experiences from your life, when you felt loved—just like my experience with my dad.
From there, you are able to express the cost. He drove 5 hours in pain, etc. Here is the “thing”. If you asked my dad what it cost him, he could probably could tell you after he paused and thought about it. But it wasn’t his first thought. His first thought was towards someone he cared about, someone he loved.
When we “get it right”, when we love as we ought, isn’t that the case for all of us? (I don’t “get it right” enough.)
Self-sacrificing love, love that gives, is love that is a choice, love that is a decision…not a feeling. Those who can look on as it is expressed see the cost. Those immersed in loving have a different focus.