Love isn’t as complex as we make it out to be.
We talk about falling in and out of love as if it’s a conscious choice we make.
I guess it seems so complicated because there are several different types of love. But it all comes down to one love, the one that makes all others possible.
I understand we love to varying degrees.
After all, the love I feel for my husband is completely different than my love of chocolate.
I totally get the argument about this kind of love versus that kind. But I still believe it all comes down to one specific love.
Recently, my husband’s 85-year-old mother sent a gift to him.
It included some of his favorite treats such as eggnog and muffins, but it also contained a truly enormous jar of cherries.
It was the size that you would expect to find in an ice cream shop, ready to top dozens of ice cream sundaes day after day, not one you would typically find in someone’s home. Yet there it sits, staring at me every time I open our refrigerator door.
When I first saw it, I looked at my husband and asked him why his mom had sent it to him. He simply answered that he loves cherries and his mom had discovered that they might help him with his painful knees.
What was casual to him was something that made me pause and reflect. His mom, who has not needed to take care of her son’s most basic needs for around six decades, found out that he’s been in pain recently.
That was all it took to start her on a mission, leading her down the path of searching for an answer to his problem.
And that is why there is a giant container of cherries in our fridge right now.
I cannot imagine how long it will take him to eat them all, if he even can, but it’s the most beautiful jar of cherries I’ve ever seen.
Even if they weren’t a beautiful bright red, they would make me think of love every time I laid eyes on them.
You see, she couldn’t stop her motherly love for him if she wanted to because love never ends.
I’m a mother too, so I understand this type of love.
I vividly remember the love I felt the moment I found out I was going to be a mother. It was an overwhelming feeling that hasn’t changed even though my oldest child is nearly forty years old.
I didn’t need to see my babies to know I loved them. I loved them as soon as I found out they were growing within me.
My children no longer live with me. In fact, it’s been a long time since they have. But, even so, the love I feel for them is reflected in the attention I still give them.
No, I don’t head down the hall to their rooms to tuck them in at night now, but they’re never out of my thoughts.
This love is natural to me as their mother, but it doesn’t come from me.
The Bible tells me in 1 John 4:8 that God is love.
He is the origin of love. He is the reason we can know true love. He is the reason we can have the kind of love that we freely give away.
I remember, years ago, watching a young child as he sat in front of the TV enjoying a cartoon.
The show was a retelling of the Biblical account of Joseph. When it got to the part where Joseph’s brothers threw him in that well, I watched this young child, who was two and a half years old at the time, walk over to the TV, touch the screen with his chubby little hand, and quietly say, “I’m sorry.”
It was one of the purest examples of love I’ve ever seen, the kind that can only come from one place. And I’ve never forgotten it.
As I reflect on these two examples of love, from two people who have nearly a hundred years separating them, I notice something. Both love others from a place of absolute purity. Both love the way God tells us all to love.
We are told in God’s Word that we need to become like a small child.
I can think of no better way to live this life than to be like that small child who apologized, out of love, to someone he didn’t know for something he didn’t do. He didn’t blame anyone. No, he simply offered the gift of kindness, the gift of love that was his to give away.
In Matthew 18, we are told that to enter the kingdom of God, we need to become like children.
That little boy didn’t understand that the characters on the TV weren’t real. He saw pain, recognized it as something to be acknowledged, and offered the only thing he had – compassion that welled up in him from the endless supply of love he was born with.
My mother-in-law has lived enough of her life to know the importance of sharing love without concern about how she will be received. She, too, loves from that deep well of childlike love that the Bible instructs us all to have.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:35
God loves me. He loves you too. It’s easy to feel His love when we come to Him like small children, our hearts reaching up to Him as our arms reach out to others. It’s easy to give away what we have been given.
Could love really be this simple? 1 John 4:8 tells me that God is love. I know enough from my math classes I sat through many years ago to know that “is” can also be expressed as “equals.”
If you want to truly love others, you must first love God. God and love cannot be separated.
Once we meet Him, surrendering ourselves fully to Him, we will know the love of a child whose heart aches for someone they see in pain.
We will know the lifelong love of a mother who would do anything to ease the pain of her child.
We will see others the way God sees them.
We can only truly know love when we fall in love with the One who created it.
And then we will understand how He gave us the ultimate gift of love as stated in John 3:16 where we’re told, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”