The varied meanings of love


I was listening to a TV show tonight (coloring while hubby watched it), when one of the characters caught my attention with a simple comment. She talked about love. She said that we "spend our whole lives chasing after it. We can't control it." And I thought about that assumption and realized one thing. What she said is both true and false.

We chase after what we think is love. In Hollywood terms that often represents itself as sex. The Greeks would have called it eros. Sensual love. And if that is all we are looking for, we will never be satisfied, so yes, we will spend our life looking for it because eros is not the real thing.

Where she was wrong comes in the phrase, "we can't control it". Of course we can. Love (real love - agape - unconditional love) is a choice. Even eros is a choice. The initial attraction might not be easily controlled, but we do have a choice whether or not we are going to give in to the attraction.

Ask anyone who has been happily married for 20, 30, 40, 50 years if they have ever been attracted to another person. Chances are they've seen someone who is physically attractive and perhaps even felt something for that person. But that's where choice comes in. We can say, "I couldn't help myself. I fell in love." Like falling off a cliff? Then don't get so close to the edge!


Love of any sort is a choice. The Greeks had three types, maybe four, all with different names. Agape, as I mentioned was the best kind - the unconditional, perhaps underserved love. Phileo- was the brotherly love type. Friendship love. It's where the city Philadelphia gets part of its name. And then the infamous eros, the sexual attraction that TV and movies can't seem to stop showing us because we "can't control it."

I'm sorry if I sound sarcastic. I'm more saddened than frustrated because if we only knew how much we've got it backwards. What if instead of thinking that we have to spend our whole lives chasing love, we knew we were loved unconditionally with sacrificial everlasting love from the time before we were even born? What if we could know someone with that kind of abiding love for us that he would give up his life for us if it came to that? What if someone thinks we are so special, he had our names tattooed into the palm of his hand?


What if we knew a love that looks at us with such deep longing just waiting for us to respond to him. He won't force us to notice him. He even lets us choose to reject him, despite the fact that he is like a bridegroom waiting to sing and dance with us? To talk with us and take long walks in the garden and listen to us chatter on and on?

Isn't that really the kind of love we are looking for? Yes, even chasing after? But we don't have to chase it our entire lives. HE actually chases us. He is the shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep who has run so fast chasing what she thought she wanted that she fell into a hole and can't get out. He is the father standing on his porch looking down the road--watching, ever watching, for the one he loves so much it aches inside to think he's walked away.

She is the woman who misplaced something so valuable that she won't sleep until she finds it because she loves him that much that she wants to show him that she didn't lose what he gave to her.


Perhaps you recognize these examples from the parables of Scripture, the lost sheep, the lost son, the lost coin. But love in every case is never lost. It does not have to be chased. It isn't uncontrollable because we have a choice to love and love is a choice. And God chose to love us if we will only let Him.

He is unconditional agape love--the kind that etched our names in his skin so deep that it ran red. The kind that waits patiently for us to come to Him because when He sings over us, it's going to sound like the grandest musical symphony you could ever imagine.

Don't think for a moment that we have to chase love our whole lives or that we can't control it. True LOVE chases us. And He is in control of it all.