Is it really love?
“Love is patient and kind. It loves even when the other person does not return the love. It gives second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Love never ever gives up.” This was part of a beautiful message we heard in church on Sunday. I got to thinking about love in the twenty first century and how our teens have their own definition for love. Is it really love when they profess extreme adoration for each other and yet refuse to commit to a faithful relationship? Is it really love when people seem to jump into bed with each other when they barely know each other? Is it really love when teens are so possessive of each other? Parents have their work cut out for them in teaching their teens what true love is.
1. Love is patient
Dating in this generation is very difficult. There are all kinds of “Apps” to help young adults meet their soul mates. Teens go to college hoping to find “the one.” And yet there is no patience. Young adults meet each other and don’t take the time to really get to know each other. They meet, they fall in love and unfortunately a lot of them end up in bed all within the first month. Then the first real test of their love comes and they fight and break up. No one is patient enough to listen to the other’s point of view. Then the cycle starts again with the next person. Parents need to take time to counsel their teens about patience. It is important for us to show them the patient and kind love which the Bible talks about is best demonstrated in how we relate to each other. Encourage them to take their time in deciding if this person they just met is their soul mate. They should be patient enough to really get to know the other person and commit before taking their relationship to an intimate level. Patience ultimately leads to less heartache and disillusionment with love and hopefully leads to understanding and tolerance towards each other.
2. Love is not possessive
How many times do we watch movies about possessive love, where one partner abuses the other because they want that person all to themselves? Is it really love, when one’s partner wants to isolate them from their friends and monopolize their time? Or is it love when teens lie to their partners about their whereabouts for fear of inciting yet another jealous rant? Obviously that is not love. Love trusts the other person and acknowledges the other person needs space to breathe and grow. It is not self-seeking or envious. Love allows the other person to be themselves and grow into their highest potential. Love knows the other person loves them and does not dishonor them by their lack of faith in them. Possessiveness has no place in love.
3. Love is a commitment
I recently learned about the acronym “FOMO”, the fear of missing out. If there is anything contrary to love, it is FOMO. Young adults these days don’t want to commit because what if they meet the next beautiful person as soon as they commit to a relationship? What an exhausting way to live, always holding out for the next best thing. We should teach our teens that love is all about commitment. You have to make the decision that this is the person for you, after you get to really know them. You have to make the choice, “this is the one I love, in sickness and in health, through the tough times and glorious days.” You decide you will continue to love this person at their best and worst. FOMO robs people of real commitment. You are never really in the relationship because you don’t want to commit but you miss out on what true love is because of your very lack of commitment. I’ve met young adults whose partners eventually left because they were ready to settle down and the other party would not commit. There is so much regret and pain because they lost the best thing they ever had. We have to teach our teens and young adults not to expect perfection in anyone. Just as they are not perfect, neither are their partners. Love is deciding to love the whole package, imperfections and all.
4. Love forgives
We live in a society where forgiveness in relationships is sometimes very difficult. And yet, if one does not forgive, how do they then move on with their own lives? Not forgiving means holding oneself in the past, which can ultimately lead to bitterness. It really means not giving oneself the opportunity to move forward to bigger and better things. We have to teach our children about forgiveness by how we relate to our partners and to our children themselves. We should teach them about effective communication as part of the art of forgiveness. We should be willing to give the people we love second, third, fourth and fifth chances, and teach our teens to do the same. Love truly forgives and keeps no record of wrongs.
Teaching our children about true love will really make a difference in how they choose to live their lives and the legacy they leave behind. We should teach them love is an action verb. There is no FOMO in love. Commitment actually enhances the relationship. Love is not possessive. Love allows the other person to be who they are and encourages them to be the best they can be. Love upholds the other person even when they are not at their best, and learns to forgive and leave the past behind. True love is fulfilling and beautiful. Love is patient and kind and protective and never gives up.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 13