Love hurts. Love however, is not the problem is it? You know the truth don’t you? People hurt people. People often say they love us but, why then do they still often make our lives miserable? Sometimes what we think is so perfect… so beautiful, is nothing more than a lie. A beautiful lie. In the midst of this, who can tell fact from fiction, love from hate or something sometimes so much worse, apathy?
Picture a boy who, by some very odd unheard of twist in life, finds himself enamored with a particular girl. Do those feelings for her make her a perfect match for him? Do they somehow mold her into the perfection he sees in her? Perhaps she is beautiful… charming. What if she instead of brushing him off, she sees opportunity. She responds to his feelings and meets his every dream of her. Something beautiful and perfect he always wanted. Is she not then just a beautiful liar? When the magic and the fun wears off for her, the boy ends up growing into another broken man who found the pot of gold he had been searching for all his life, and found it to be lacking in substance so much like the rainbow he followed to obtain it.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting as king Soloman observed in his proverbs. (Proverbs 31:30).
What then IS love then anyway? A vapor? A feeling? Butterflies in your stomach? Some super duper, magical, ambiguous term with a secret meaning, that everyone wants in life? Perhaps the latter may be true.
In the above example we can identify a common scenario of what love, is not. In life we so easily find numerous examples of what love is not, however it seems to have become a buzzword in our culture.
I LOVE my mother
I LOVE cheeseburgers
I LOVE my husband
Is it any wonder so many have such a hard time defining love?
Even so hard to define, we can identify some symptoms. When you feel loved, your life is OK. Problems don’t matter so much. You are strong, invincible. If you feel loved enough, then nothing is impossible for you. People search for this feeling of being loved by having boyfriends, girlfriends, jumping into marriages… Meaningless superficial foundations to build on in this bitter life. Consider it like building a house on the beach. (Matthew 7:26-27) It can be the most beautiful house ever built, fit for a king and queen. That is at least until rainy season hits and high tides leave only broken pieces and memories. People put all their faith in these relationships, and when the waves come and it all falls apart, so do we.
Why then do people, who far deep down probably know all this to a deeper level than it is presented here, still keep dating around and marrying and divorcing? People seem to keep this up until all their emotional resources are spent up, the gas runs out, and they are cold, alone, and stranded the rest of their lives with no will to go on. Perhaps you know the feeling too.
With every relationship we enter, that turns out to be yet another golden hologram, a beautiful lie, we find that we handed away yet another chunk of our heart. We do this until there is nothing left anymore. Better to contract an incurable illness, and die in the company of those who you know care about you dearly, than to live to a ripe old age knowing your life was all built on one, or several, false loves. Loves which eventually died, and you with them. To die alone, unloved, with nothing but memories to get you through each day.
Far better to ask the one who promises the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4). The one who created us with these hormones, and wants, and needs; This need to feel love and companionship.
No one, NO ONE, Is designed to die the death of loneliness. It is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Yet without realizing it so often we commit spiritual suicide chasing the vapor of our own ideas of what love is until we find ourselves in the very place described above. We also hurt those who want to love us, but we are unable to feel that love anymore, because it is all wasted and spent. No more trust is left in those who are hurt burnt and broken to even recognize real love when it is before them.
Identifying what love is, and the types of love, is one of the most important things we can do in this life. Without that, everything IS meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2), and we are but walking dead looking for our graves.
Let us have a look at Soloman again, but before we do remember the above examples of the word love. English destroys its meaning, so we must turn to the language King Soloman actually wrote in to get a better idea of his real views of love.
In the Hebrew, in Song of songs, Soloman used three distinct words for love, which transliterated to the English alphabet, are as follows.
(Note: The main words are spelled phonetically here as they would be pronounced using English letters)
The love of close friendship and trust between a male with a female. Soloman uses this as the word for love, directed to his Beloved, at least 9 times.
Example: Song of Songs 1:9
Transliterated Hebrew: le.su.sa.ti be.rikh.vei far.o di.mi.tikh (ra.ya.ti) I have compared thee, O my love(ra-ya-ti), to a steed in Pharaoh’s chariots.
(The root word hy[r means literally companion or intimate friend.)
The love of making plans, having commitment, reliability, and most of all… trust. In the context of love between a man and woman this usually leads to marriage and can continue to grow with time in a marriage.
Example: Song of Songs 2:7
Transliterated Hebrew: hish.ba.ti et.khem be.not ye.ro.u.sha.lam bits.va.ot o be.ai.lot ha.sa.de im-ta.i.ru ve.im-te.or.ru et-ha.(a.ha.va) ad she.tekh.pats I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field, that ye awaken not, nor stir up love(ah-ha-va), until it please.
(The root word hbha is defined as an action or a verb. This is not love as an emotion or feeling, but as an action.)
The hormonally based, erotic side of love, that most of us (especially males) are hardwired to want and experience. We only get to properly experience the real thing however, after the above two loves are in place.
Example: Song of Songs 1:2
Transliterated Hebrew: yi.sha.ke.ni min.shi.kot pi.hu ki-to.vim (do.dei).kha mi.ya.yin Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for thy love(do-dei) is better than wine.
(The root word dwd means by itself literally to boil.)
Here, perhaps more clearly, we can see Soloman really was trying to illustrate the perfect compliment each of these loves make to each other. This forms a complete picture of true love as he so poetically illustrates in his Song of Songs. In essence he shows a man is supposed to seek out a close friend, instead of a superficial relationship in a girlfriend, without foundation. He is supposed to seek out just a close female friend, as just a friend, that he can learn to trust; to learn from. As an objective for a female raya becomes rayati. A man is to seek out a Rayati. If that relationship turns to be one that both benefit from greatly over time it can GROW to become an Ahava love that grows to stages of engagement, marriage. A lifetime of getting closer to each other in the proper intended context of that marriage. Ahava is an open ended love that keeps growing with time even and especially long after the glamor and the wedding bells. Just after the Ahava starts however, we are allowed to experience Dode in a way we need feel no guilt for, with someone we have learned to completely trust and built a solid foundation with and WAIT for. Then we can let all those hardwired hormones go to their most perfect extent.
The whole design of marriage and arguable point of Song of Songs itself, is to mirror our human intimate love for each other with Gods love for us, Christs love for the church. After all it is men who are given the high calling to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Christ loves the church that makes him wait outside when they have service, spits in his face, hung him on a cross, killed him. He was the leader and he was in CHARGE. Yet he loved the church, us, SO much he was willing to submit everything and die just for the chance that some day we might understand how much he loves us so he might have that love returned, even if in some small way. Think about that for a second, a new human race could of been created at any given time all over again that were perfect! God however made his commitment, his ultimate Ahava love, to us, his unloving bride. Now yet again husbands are called not only to be leaders but to love their wives as Chirst loved the church. In true love there is no going back, only giving everything like a what seems to be a fool; because you must; because real love requires it of you.
Let us take a look at the above in contrast with todays thinking. Traditionally we function based on hormones to flirt with Dode love with one another to generate relationships to stimulate this. We then try to manufacture Raya love to keep the Dode love going on as long as possible. The problem is this is done totally bypassing the most important glue that holds it together, Ahava. In the later years when beauty and the Dode fade (Again, Proverbs 31:30), only the ever growing Ahava will fill that hole in our hearts to feel loved, and to help us weather lifes problems headstrong.
The traditional attempts at love and thinking regarding it is the primary cause of the current skyrocketing divorce rates. It does not matter if someone goes to church or believes in God or not. Divorce rates are just as high inside, and outside of christian circles. It is in fact the ignorance of real love, and the proper way of obtaining it in their lives, that drive them all in the same perilous direction.
Again, better to be alone and in pain than to throw your life away trying to experiment with a broken fragment of love. A partial love that will destroy large chunks of, if not all of your life, leaving you only to find all your dreams are now nearly impossible to obtain. Without hope, we are but again, walking dead.
Going back to the beach analogy (Matthew 7:26-27), it is about foundation. Without a proper foundation, it is all going to backfire and spiritually kill us. If it does not do so immediately it will later; often after children are casualty to the fallout.
Even though Soloman so well defines what love is, and what it looks like in practice, how can those of us who are only beginning to understand love, find it? How can a single man find a Rayati to share time with that will not hurt him? How can a single woman know when that close friend they find is worthy of sharing ahava love with?
Yet again, refer to the one who gave us the desires of our hearts (Matthew 7:26-27) in the first place, and has promised to fulfill them if we trust Him. This love is found often in the Greek New Testiment and is much better known as Agape love. The perfect love for, from, and to, our Creator; and to each other through Him. There you find your focal point, and can define the path to a perfect (as man can have) relationship with simple geometry. If both you and your future spouse are both running toward the only true and perfect Agape love, eventually the three points of the triangle (him, her, God) will start to close until they intersect. Run towards Him until you, and the most perfect companion for you, cross paths. This path is you personally trying to grow in the most important love of all, the Agape love. Then the two of you having each other for support can have that foundation of real love to guide you the rest of your lives.
A path you can follow until you end up in the very presence of the real one you should spend your life seeking.