when starting to ponder about this question – not for the first time in my life! – this silly hit from the 90s came to mind: “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” I am sure you remember it if you are old enough 😉
When giving these words some deeper thought, the lyrics are not as silly as they seem… a love where we never, ever got hurt – that would be pretty amazing and also pretty rare, don’t you think?
But seriously, the answer to this question is not easy, never has been and I believe never will be, at least not for me.
As you know, I used to be a therapist and a lawyer and for some time a manager – I thought I had it all together and even more did I want others to think so.
That was before I got saved.
And I was a trainer as well, used to lead classes for all kinds of topics, including NLP.
In case you don’t know what that is, it is an abbreviation for Neuro Linguistic Programming, a kind of short time therapy invented by 2 Americans, who studied and “modelled” a bunch of very successful therapists to find out what made them so successful and they found some patterns in the work of these therapists and they made these patterns accessible and usable for everybody calling them “formats”.
And they developed a sort of “therapeutic pharmacy” where you could learn a format for every symptom – and of course, they (and their successors) made a lot of money out of it, not only of the clients they cured with this, but also of the millions and gazillions of therapist-wannabees all over the world, including me.
It was quite a lengthy process to get through the stages and have enough training hours, client hours and of course, coaching/therapy hours yourself in order to become certified as an NLP Teacher. Nobody does this just for fun and nobody in this business thinks that these things don’t work – including me at the time!
I (thought I) helped people solve the biggest and most complicated issues of their lives.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, I am still trying to relate to the world, relate to people like (the) me before I got saved. I hope it makes it easier for them to come home, too…
And also, to make a point I may have made before, but not in this context – nowadays, most people go to a therapist with their big questions about life, not to GOD or to a pastor… this is sad and I will do all I can to spread the news that that’s not the right place to take these questions and I know it even more, because I was one of “these places” and I did NOT have the right answers at that time.
Also, I’m publishing all these personal and not very flattering facts about me, because I want unbelievers reading this to know what it was like to be me back then and into what hell these things lead me and hopefully, they can recognize or find themselves in the old me and will want to find out what it is like to be like me now, to be like us Christians…
I know I wasn’t alone with what was going on inside me, wasn’t the only one carrying around my masks and wasn’t the only one pretending and secretly doubting and for sure wasn’t the only yearning for more, for the truth, for safety… I hope those reading this who are unbelievers can relate to where I came from – and I pray they will want to go where I went… and the others, I just wonder if anyone had similar experiences, revelations or findings – I am assuming and hoping I wasn’t alone with the solutions and answers I found…?
Like I said, I thought I had it all together, that I had some answers – or perhaps not so much did I believe in having the answers myself, but I did believe and also did believe firmly in seeing proof for that I was able to help people find their answers by the methods I had learned.
And that this was indeed helping them.
And healing them.
And I believed that these answers were individual, that they differed from person to person and that it was healing and helpful for every person to find them, to discover them and that I was doing a good work in assisting them to do so.
In a way, I helped them to commit idolatry and divination.
That was not my perspective or conviction at the time though, as you can surely imagine.
I had this feeling all along that even though my clients and students were generally very appreciative and never seemed to get tired of telling me how greatly they had profited from working with me and how it had changed their lives even (I am SO sorry about that and I have been repenting for years and years for having helped them to become even stronger unbelievers!!!) – but in spite of all this positive feedback, I knew that something was wrong.
I didn’t know what it was at the time – today I know that it was THE HOLY SPIRIT telling me I was on the wrong path, but at that time, I didn’t think so and I didn’t even think that there could be different spirits whom we could follow!
I misinterpreted this feeling for a very long time:
I thought if only I knew more, learned more methods, gained more therapeutic experience, then would this feeling go away or transform – and you don’t know me, but let me tell you this, when I want to study something, I can be very thorough and as diligently as I nowadays work for THE LORD, just as keenly did I pursue what I believed in and wanted to learn back in the days – so I learned and studied and went to more and more courses, read a lot of books, dedicated a lot of time to this – and the feeling did not go away, but grew stronger.
And here’s the thing:
I did what I did out of LOVE for people.
I sincerely wanted to help them, wanted to assist them in growing, in healing, in finding their purpose in life, in overcoming their obstacles, in moving past these old childhood stories and in becoming the person they wanted to be.
And there was a little pride, too – I found it rewarding to be the very one having helped them to find the right way for their life – this was the part that also scared me about myself, scared me when I saw it in others (and I saw it a lot!) and also scares me when (and I am not saying if!) I see it in Christian leaders – and I don’t only mean the ones on TV (or in the vatican) where it is obvious that they are not seeking to glorify GOD, but to increase their egos and their finances. I do also see it in church or in your everyday Christian brother or sister… but that’s another topic for another day.
I did see things in the therapy scene which made no sense and which I found disturbing.
And I also did get to the limits of what I could explain or influence, understand and even approve of… and I had doubts about the results… even more doubts about the persons I came across, teachers, therapists, so called healers, who seemed to be wanting to be adored, admired, worshipped – instead of being empowering, encouraging and supportive… and doubts about their claims and teachings…
But it took me a long time to realize what the cause for all this was.
Many things make sense today, but didn’t at the time.
And vice a versa, what I thought made sense at the time, doesn’t make sense anymore today.
LOVE didn’t make a lot of sense to me, never.
I hadn’t figured it out and only had a pretty good idea of what love was NOT for me.
And I saw a lot of what others called love which I could not give this name to:
I saw co-dependency, I saw violence and abuse, I saw lust when others saw love.
I saw two compatible kinds of brokennesses when I saw a couple – not always, but very often. I saw boredom, wanting to fill one’s life with something and doing their best to fit the partner into their concept of this life, of a family or a successful relationship.
And I don’t exclude myself from that.
When I got married, I may not have been able to truly love – even though I thought I did at the time and I truly had the intention to stay in this marriage for the rest of my life – but I didn’t. And I must admit that GOD wasn’t in that marriage, because HE was not in my life truly at the time – even though I thought HE was…
I thought I kind of knew what love was, but what I considered LOVE at the time is not what I think LOVE is today.
I had to admit though even at that time that my concept of love wasn’t very sophisticated or rooted or secured – don’t know how to describe it, but deep within me, I probably knew that I didn’t really know what love is.
That’s why I never took on couples as clients, even though I had the opportunity quite a few times, but I rejected them and said I would only work with one of them…
I thought it was because I didn’t have a long marriage at the time (in fact, I got married pretty late and when the enemy started bombing my life apart, my marriage was the first thing that fell…), I thought that not having many years of being a wife under my belt would disqualify me from counseling married couples – I didn’t want to be like the many teachers I saw, who taught “the truth” and how to live a happy life and when you took a look behind the curtain, their lives seemed everything else but happy or “together”.
I didn’t know at the time that you can recognize someone by their fruits… and what I also didn’t know is that the wrong path I was on NEVER leads to more knowledge and understanding, only to more questions and more insecurity.
What I am trying to say is that love and understanding love depends on the state of spiritual maturity one is in and it will be different for everyone according to what they believe, just as their entire lives will be different, for instance (but not only) comparing believer and unbeliever – so I guess I would say that not only beauty, but also love lies in the eyes of the beholder or in the heart of the befeeler (?).
And I firmly believe we shouldn’t judge those who do not know what true love is, because they have not experienced the LOVE of OUR FATHER.
And I would never consider myself knowing more now, all I know is that an act of divine kindness and mercy has been bestowed upon me when I got saved and forgiven and when I found out that I am loved.
Ever since, I don’t even consider humans capable of true love any longer – which may be a bit too critical and overly cautious, but after all I have seen, I have not seen a lot of people, in fact, none, who love without wanting something in return and I am not even judgemental when I say that, I include myself and when I notice that I have a loving feeling towards someone, I always ask myself what I want from this person or what this person satisfies in me… even including GOD – had HE never, ever, ever done anything for me, I don’t even know if I could love HIM at all, let alone with all my heart and all my soul!
Aren’t the times when HE doesn’t do things for us the times when we are most likely to stop loving HIM?
Many of us or all of us at least sometimes doubt HIS love for us when HE doesn’t hear our prayers or doesn’t speak to us – don’t we?
So I must admit that my capability to love and also my understanding of the concept of LOVE is still very limited!
It has been growing since I got saved.
And so has and is my capacity to love.
I can love more people in more ways at more times than I used to be able to.
I would not have been able to love people I can love today, in spite of what they have done (to me), and I would not be or have been able to forgive without having been forgiven myself…
But unconditional love, loving without ever wanting anything back, I don’t think I am capable of it – yet…
Or a relationship I would consider to be true love – the only constellation where this seems possible to me is THROUGH GOD, when both love HIM first and when HE connects them as in the original idea of holy matrimony – and I do believe this is possible, but have not experienced it myself and don’t even know if I want to…
The song of Solomon also gives an idea.
But then, how will we keep this love pure and un-defiled from the world?
How can we, for instance, have sex without lust?
So where I am today, I have a better idea of what love is, because I learned what OUR SAVIOR did for us, but except for the answers the bible gives us, which are true – and the ones the world has, which are false for me today, I (still) don’t really know what love is.
I know what it is like to love GOD and to be loved by HIM, but other than that, I don’t really know what love is…
Do you, my friend?
So here’s what the bible says about love (just some of the scriptures I find significant) – love is mentioned 310 times in the bible, quite a few times…
1 Corinthians 13: 4-5
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
1 John 4: 6 – 11
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
John 15 : 13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Song of Solomon 3: 4
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
And that’s all I know about what love is.
This is not to show the unbelievers that we know more than they do – in fact, probably the contrary is the case, at least compared to me – the more I know GOD and JESUS, the less I need to know myself.
And I don’t have it all together, not more than back in the days when I thought I did – in fact, probably less than then… but the good thing is, I don’t need to and what’s even better is that I don’t need to pretend anymore that I do – because I know who does!
And I can go to HIM whenever I need to, whatever I need HIM for, HE is there for me – HE knows everything, has everything, gives everything, and HE loves me – always and no matter what I do or say or what others think of me – that’s all I need to know.
Christianity is not about knowing more than unbelievers do – it is about having a relationship with someone who does and this relationship can even be a dependency and nobody will say there is anything wrong with that.
And it is a relationship with someone who will stay in this relationship no matter what – in love with us, with every single one of us.
I didn’t know that love like this existed… not until I got saved and until I discovered the love of my SAVIOR.
HIS love is the best love I have ever felt or seen.
It is even greater than I can comprehend, I cannot even fully imagine that someone could love me regardless of what I would have done or said, but HE can and HE does.
And that’s all I know about what LOVE is:
How about you, my friend?
What is your knowing about love like?
Did it change over the years?
If you got saved by HIM, what was your experience regarding to love?
Or if you are not yet saved, wouldn’t you like to be loved like that???
GOD bless you, dear friend.
May you never be without HIS love – for the rest of your life and beyond eternally.
In JESUS’ name.