Now, it should be stated (and it's commonly known amongst those who know me best), that this is not an unusual occurrence. The fact is, there's always something on my mind. I guess Willie Nelson and I have more in common than I thought.
This past week, a song lyric stirred something in me. And wouldn't you know it, it came from Coldplay. Editor's Note: If you're wondering why I think that this is strange, see (as in reference) the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin and chapter 1 of Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. Especially the latter.
I first heard the song Fix You on an episode of Scrubs. I remember thinking, "Wow. What an appropriate song to play in that scene. I wonder if I have any Lean Pockets in the freezer..." And I didn't think about it again for quite some time.
That is until Wednesday, when I heard it again. But this time, one lyric in particular stuck out to me. This is that lyric:
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse
I asked myself, "Have I ever wasted my love on somebody?" I'm not necessarily talking about romantic love, although that's part of it. In this case I mean love in general: romantic, friendship, etc.
So, of course, I began to think through a lot of my relationships. Most of the ones I thought were "wastes" were ones that didn't end the way that I pictured them ending. Or, I guess if I were to be honest, they didn't end the way I planned them. But I began to wonder, what about a relationship makes it a waste vs. making it a success? I think to answer that question you have to examine the purpose and definition of love.
I know that God is love (1 John 4:8). I also know that love is patient and kind. It doesn't envy or boast. It isn't proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It doesn't keep a record of others' mistakes. It doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I know that love always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. And It always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Ugh! This is where I realized that the standard I had been defining "success" in relationships by was wrong. You see, Christ said to love other people as you love yourself. But, so far, I think that maybe I've considered a relationship a failure unless the person loved me in the way that I loved them. The problem with this, is that it's not real love.
You see, a love that says "This is only worth it if you return to me what I give to you" is selfish, it's self-seeking. It's conditional. And according to how God defines love, that ain't it.
I don't want to love others because I want them to love me. I want to love others because God loves me. Not only that, but I want to love others in the way that God loves me: a way that's not conditional on them reciprocating my love. A way that says, "No matter what you do, no matter how you treat me; I will love you".
If our goal in any relationship is to see an equal return on our love, then most of the time we'll be met with an outcome that could be considered a waste. Editor's Note: Those of us in ministry know this to be especially true. We, especially I, need to approach every relationship we have with a goal like Christ's. A goal that says "I love you without any expectations. I love you regardless of whether you even like me. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride. I love you because someone first loved me and He says it's the right thing to do."
I'll have to ask you to excuse me now. It seems that I have a lot of relationships that I need to start over. Only, this time, with a redefined goal...