Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All You Need Is Love

Whew. Can I just tell you how exhausting it is to work endlessly for three straight days on research papers?

If you're interested in my advice, write deadlines down at the beginning of the semester rather than 2 weeks before they occur.

In any case, here I am again, turning to the internet in between working on assignments. I finished a paper on Islamist violence in North Africa, made it up to the fifth page of a paper on the evolution of 19th century Russian poetry, and just now finished watching the film "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" for -- shockingly -- yet another paper. Far more papers than any sane person should be expected to write. (Don't expect to see me in grad school any time soon.) I am up to my eyeballs in books, formats, facts, citations, and all the glorious things you can imagine accompanying the ages-old proof of knowledge: the paper.

It's a comforting place, the internet. If I click the little Facebook link on my Safari toolbar -- let's face it, I click that one the most -- then I can usually find someone to chat with when I'm lonely or bored. I can play a mindless game like Tetris for a few minutes or fortnights. I can catch up on some light reading, be it from gems like "People of Wal-Mart" (THE BEST) or "Texts from Last Night" (SECOND BEST). Peruse some old Youtube favorites. Maybe even I can just click, click, click until I don't know what I'm looking at anymore. If you can't detect my certainty that this is a major waste of time, I hope you understand that I'm aware of how dumb this whole surfing pastime is.

However, the whole aforementioned "talking to friends" thing is not always bad. I might abuse their willingness to chat to avoid inevitable tasks awaiting me, but I'm a pretty big proponent of staying social. I find myself getting something out of even the most seemingly shallow little conversations. This little moment was with someone that I'm not super close to, but we talk from time to time; I met him at a minor school function a while back. It went something like this, names changed because I'm a wimp:

Me: What have you been up to these days?
Jethro: Not a whole lot. I did some homework, got coffee with Laquisha Chucker (so what if I get carried away with pseudonyms?), and just sort of chilled out.
Me: Oh, I see Laquisha around sometimes! She's so sweet.
Jethro: Oh yeah. She's great. I love her. <3

I don't think I'm especially sentimental, especially compared to most girls, but my icy little rock of a heart warmed up just a couple of degrees. It's really not often that I hear guys talk about their female friends like that, because we don't want to go pinning romantic feelings on poor Jethro that may not (or may!) be there.

It made me wonder if my guy friends would talk about me that way. And it kind of made me hope that someone really would express to someone else, barely an acquaintance, that they loved me.

Surely it is no mystery to most people that love is one of the most universally desired things in this world, if not the #1 thing that everyone is looking for. I don't doubt at all that we were designed with a thirst to be accepted, understood, admired, and cared for without necessarily anything in return. Friends, family, and lovers tend to bring the most satisfaction in our quest to be loved.

I've also happened to notice that these three things are potentially the closest earthly examples of a relationship with God that we will experience before we see His face. This is a very preliminary theory that I literally just thought of a few seconds ago, but think about it:

1. Friends: you can tell good friends just about anything. You enjoy spending time with them, whether you plan a whole day out to be together or if you are just laying around not doing anything in particular. (Ephesians 6:18: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.")
2. Family: you are a member of a family, bound by blood, and you are not meant to be broken from them. You have guardians who look out for your best interest and train you up throughout your life to be the best person possible. They see the best and worst in you and love you regardless, even when it seems like there's no good reason for them to. (Ephesians 1:5: "He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ.")
3. Lovers: you are attracted to one another, and in the eyes of your lover, you are entrancing. He/she often bends over backwards to see you happy. Together you both make a promise to love one another intimately and selflessly. (Revelation 19:7: "For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.")

We long for the qualities found in all kinds of relationships, but I can't be the only one who has noticed that all of them seem to be found in a romantic love. A spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend is supposed to be your best friend and a member of your family -- and then some. Big surprise, then, that this kind of love gets so much attention in popular culture and throughout history. The songs on the radio about friends and family are way outnumbered by ones about that other love. The happiest endings in movies are when two lovers can finally be together, despite all the obstacles that got in their way.

I constantly think about what it must be like to have that other person. It must be nice knowing that if you crawled out of bed wearing your schlumpiest PJs and glasses, eyes red and half-open, retainer in your mouth, that that one person would not scream and flee at the sight of you. (I may be the only person who looks like that in the morning, but that's beside the point.) Even looking like that, only capable of moaning to communicate, that person would look at you and nothing would change.

"Oh yeah. She's great. I love her."

How reassuring, then, that God does feel that way about each and every one of us. If anyone can see the most horrible, disgusting, embarrassing parts of us, it's Him, and yet He pursues us in love and desires to lead us on to bigger and better things than we can imagine on our own. I've talked about all this before plenty of times. I still fall prey to feeling like an unlovable person from time to time, and it bears repeating in my own mind, but that fact about Him never changes.

Yet imagine in a human relationship if one person was constantly loving the other. He leaves her little notes on her desk and car, buys flowers for no reason, compliments her on different things every day, hugs and kisses every time they are together, and all kinds of thoughtful things that show just how nuts he is about her. But if someone were to ask her about him, she would just say, "Oh yeah, that's him," and say nothing else, nothing about how awesome he is, how loving he is. She doesn't even really tell him to his face that she loves him, too.

How long do you think that would last?

God will never waver in His love for us, no matter how we treat Him. Does that mean that He doesn't want us to respond by loving Him back? No way. Deuteronomy 6:5: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

For all that He does for us, is that really all that much for Him to ask?

So that if other people bring Him up, we would say, "Oh yes. He is wonderful. I love Him"?

Maybe if I really passionately loved God the way that I want to and ought to, I would be spending less time hanging out online and spending time with the only one who has come down so low just to call me His own.

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