Why Can’t We Just Love?

loveThe World Wide Web contains some pretty tough questions. For instance, “What if love was really what it’s all about? What if everyone actually loved each other, fully. With everything that love entails: encouragement, sacrifice, teaching a healthy lifestyle full of value for self and others. Why can’t we just love? Why is it so hard?”

Love is hard if it means always getting what you want. Who has EVER experienced that? Even Jesus said if it was possible he did not want to die on the cross. Character flaws such as pride and selfishness often are associated with the financially wealthy and extremely talented. Is getting what you want, at least most of the time, because of money, power, or talent really what you would bequeath the person you loved deeply? Perhaps, but the astute might well try to hedge their loved ones gift with just enough experience of poverty to create an awareness of finiteness and gratitude.

Love is hard if it is all about me. This close second to always getting what you want sees past the needs, hurt, and desires of others in the search for pleasure. It is as if our personal photographer always blurs the background in order to keep myself in the foreground with sharp contrast. Does the accident in the background that is in process or about to happen need to move to the foreground and brought into focus even if it means “me” is obscured?

Love is hard if it means always giving what someone else wants. Taking care of oneself is essential if remaining healthy enough to care for others is to continue. That means the answer must occasionally, often depending on the circumstances, be “No”. Also, filling a want is not always best for the recipient. Who wants a personal physician that received the exam answers from a friend through medical school? How much self-esteem will a forty year old have that was never allowed to fail or earn their own way?

Real love often chooses serving rather than being served. Real love is about giving more than receiving. Love is about sacrifice as well as emotional ecstasy. It may mean losing a friend because you care enough to share the truth and your real opinion rather than tell them what they want to hear. If you love, you do what is best for them.

Disciplining those we care about is essential for parents, friends, and employers. Rewards and consequences teach valuable lessons and mold outstanding citizens. The Old Testament prophet Moses wrote, “Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.” The New Testament author of Hebrews wrote, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Love like this is beautiful. Love like this brings blessing. Love like this is difficult when so many fear not being liked, understood, or alone. Love, real love, is a risk. Love like this costs more than many want to pay. Perhaps that is why so many choose self love over the love of others.

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