I. Love. You.

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The three most overused words in human existance. Their meaning is lost in 3 applications of the words: the egocentric use of I, the multiplicity of uses for love, which water down the impact of the word, and the accusational or confrontational way we tend to address the "you", the others in our lives.

 I love you

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"I": The 1st-person personal pronoun. People who love from this position are focused on themselves: I love you. They normally need some sort of affirmation, validation, esteem, etc. They love you so much they will attempt to manipulate, control, guilt you into obeying, complying with their ways of being, because THEY love you. They want to fix you, to improve you. You are their project, the fixing of which, and the affirmation they feel and receive for a job well done, are a motivation for their loving.

These people need you to appreciate them.  So that THEY know, that YOU know how much you need them, since they just improved you or fixed you. They are afraid to lose. It is not you as a person, with opinions, likes and dislikes, and freedom to choose, but you as a valued thing.  A thing which gives them meaning, definition, the obtaining of which and the maintaining of said control gives them the feeling of security, and power...ergo value and worth. These people derive their worth from others, live vicariously through others, and in the end are actually living off others. They operate from a base of fear. They are afraid of who they are without...  They are afraid of being alone... they love from fear.

This neediness comes from a place of brokenness. They have lost something, or someone. They grew up without. They were picked on when they were younger. They were abused.  Whatever the lack, it stems from sin.   

Humanity, made in God's image, was able to stand and assert "I"-ness without lack, without brokenness. Our confidence, our identity, our value, was firmly grounded in the fact that we were the image of God, and were in right relationship with Him. As the giver of our identity, as the ground of our identity, we could declare our "I"-ness confidently because it was grounded in who God was and our relationship with and to Him.  Our "I"-ness was grounded in a theocentric worldview and experience.

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When we sinned, our identity and value foundation was removed from God, and placed in a creature (the snake).  Humanity, broken and separated from its source, has ever sought to find value and meaning in created things, seeking to use things, activities, and people to fill a broken and breaking heart. Now, our "I"-ness is grounded in an egocentric worldview and experience: we seek wholeness for ourselves, and that usually from other people. 

We choose to view and love people through the lens of our preference of them, by what is pleasing or convenient for us. We do not view or love people as their really are, but as we want them to be for us.

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Such an experience has made us emotional vampires and spiritual werewolves at minimum, with the physical and material not far behind. This type of egocentric needy vampirism/lycanthorpy has manifested itself to all of the horrors of abuse: slavery of all kinds (chattel, sex, indentured servitude, etc.), the holocaust and other genocides, domestic violence, child abuse, capitalistc greediness, ad nausea, ad infinitum. We are taking from others to fill our spiritual lack, and in the end all are still empty. We have not filled ourselves, we have emptied others of the little they had.

i LOVE  you

Today we love everything. We love our pets. We love our family. We love our car. Our NFL and NBA teams, coworkers, jobs, movies, traveling, our country, food, clothing...my gosh! We love so many things, and we use this one word for all those things. The word then becomes diminished in it meaning when used with other humans. I mean, when you say you love me, do you love me with the same love you have for the dog, the car, the job, the house...how does the word "love" encompass everything we need it to, and yet give the differing degrees we use it for? 

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Some people are love addicts. It is the act of loving, the verb of loving, the idea of loving, that they are in love with. Love for them is not attached to a commitment, to a person, to a relationship. It is simply something they enjoy doing. These can be very promiscuous, or simply go from relationship to relationship.

This ilk tend to have issues with trust and/or commitment. For them love is a verb like running. You do it because you enjoy it, you do it for your health, you can do it as a team, but the point of the team is not necessarily the comraderie, but that it is thru team that this action can be done. They love the action of love, but their love has no specific object. As such, these type of people tend to only benefit themselves. They love because it makes them feel good. It possibly makes them feel good about themselves, lets them think they are better people, which in the end places them in the first category: "I". This means that they are broken is areas arguably analogous to the "I" group. The difference however, is that these may not be afraid, or as afraid, as the "I" group. It is even possible that, just as the object of their love is not the goal of their loving, that the source of their love, their self, is not important to them either.

i love YOU 

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You: the 2nd-person personal pronoun. You is the opposite of me, the other in the Me/You relationship. Your perspective is your perception, and your perception is your reality, until it is proven to be only a perception. Many times those "I's " who speak of the "YOU" perspective are doing so in an accusatory way. If there is an argument, it is always what's wrong with YOU, its YOUR fault. Many of us are good at differentiating ourselves from the "other" in our life when things get hard, when there is a problem.

We choose to view and love people through the lens of our preference of them, by what is pleasing or convenient for us. We do not view or love people as their really are, but as we want them to be for us. 

However, when we say "i love YOU" we are differentiating in a much healthier way. The emphasis of the statement is on the other, not on myself, my needs and my brokenness, nor on my activity of loving. The emphasis is on the object of love: YOU. Those who think this way have accepted who the person is, are forgiving when the other fails, and are willing to sacrifice to stay in relationship. They are also not afraid to let the person go, if that is what loving means, because they love that Person, not themselves, not the act of loving.

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The problem is with this model is that there is no sense of self. There is no self-worth or self-value either. These people discount themselves. They don't even acknowledge themsleves. They are so other focused that their sacrifice can be assumed. "Others" can take their kindness for weakness. These people are so full of love for the "others" that they can be abused, misused, reused, overused, ignored, marginalized, etc. 

What we have to understand is that loving is a sacrificial invitation and gift of one's self to another. Yes you may love me, but you must understand that what you are offering me is valuable, for it is of you and from you. You are valuable, and you loving me is valuable. I do not value your love of me, I value YOU loving me. If YOU, as the people is this paradigm, do not value or take note of your worth as the gift of love to me, then your loving is baseless, powerless, meaningless. 

 I LOVE YOU

This statement is the epitome. It is the penultimate. This is the gold standard of the phrase. Those who are living from this principle operate in all 3 words holistically:  

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1) I: People who have a capital I the I love you phrase have a healthy sense of self. They know their own worth, they derive value from God, who is the ground and foundation of their identity. They do not need you to affirm them, to hold them together, to stand them up, to give them direction. Their "I"-ness is firmly secured in the cross of Jesus, which is grounded in the Love of God (John 3:16). This firm foundation gives their identity value, since ...

 

1Jn 3:1  Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

1Jn 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

1Jn 3:3  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

This is the "I"-ness which gives them worth, from which they do their loving 

 

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2) LOVE: Having their identity secured in the redemptive and adoptive love of God, these people can now capitalize their LOVE. Their LOVE for others, as with their identity, is based on God's love for them.

 1Jn 4:16-19  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in himHerein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in loveWe love him, because he first loved us.

 

Those who are God's love God, themselves, and others (Matthew 22;38-39) because God first loved them (John 3:18, 1 John 4:19). They recognize that ...

 Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love oneanother; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

1Jn 3:16  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

 1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love oneanother.

 

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3) YOU: Those whose identity is secured in God, and not humans constructs, are actually able to love and appreciate the "others", the YOU of their life for who they are. When one knows and accepts the value of the grace given to them (the incarnation, the resurection, etc.) , and cost of the mercy given to them (the crucifixion), one sees that the value of one's own self being infinite because the infinite went into oblivion to prove so. Thus, one is secure in one's self. This security enables one to see the self as a valuable, worthy gift to be transmitting through love and loving. Such a gift is an invitation to relationship. This invitation can be accepted or rejected, and it is offered to the YOU in one's life.

This offering of love is a living demonstration of God's love to that person. You are the offering of God's love, of relationship. You are offering yourself, a being of infinite value, to another being, in the hopes that they realize they are also infinitely valuable. You are offering them the Infinite One. You are not changing them, fixing them or the like. 

Lest this seem extreme, love does not sit idle while danger is present, if someone is hurting one's self, etc. Love does act to alleviate suffering, to bring about wholeness. Yet, love is not compelling. Love cannot make YOU do anything. Love can woo, scream, shout, cry, talk, whisper, but it cannot make anyone do anything. It is in this point that the "other" is given dignity and freedom. They are free to say no, to reject love, to spurn your loving overtures, to reject your suggestions, to not obey your edicts. They are free to not abide by your lifestyle, believe your beliefs, to not like what you like, or do what you do. Love is not coercive. The YOU's of our lives need to be abllowed to maintain their dignity. 

 God extending himself, while allowing freedom to accept or reject. 

God extending himself, while allowing freedom to accept or reject. 

It is in this freedom that YOUs are people to us. They are not objects to satisfy our emotional needs. They, in this freedom, are free to love you back. They are free to give back to you what you are giving to them, or they can walk away. They can ignore your overtures. At this point you are free to walk away, giving them what they want, which is your absence. Or you can stay there and sacrifice, giving everything you are to the one who is rejecting you. Either one is equally valid. Why? Because both are Godly. Jesus didn't always stay in the presence of rejectors, removing himself quite regularly, and yet he did pay the ultimate price...shedding blood to show His love. And God will at some point give humanity what it wants as well...his absolute absence. 

Why is absence good? because we, like God, are free. Love is a free gift. We, like God, know who we are, and whose we are. We, like God, offer ourselves to others, because we value them. We, like God, can be rejected, and have our offering of a love relationship rejected. When this happens then we, like God, can respect others' freedom, and give them what they want...not us. 

 

 

 

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