What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me.
If you don’t get that, I’m sorry that you missed clubbing in the early to mid 90’s. This piece of musical genus helped many a young man perfect his falcetto, yet I still don’t think it answered the question. 25 years later, I will take a crack at this mysterious question, one theme per day.
What is love? Love is freedom.
When I think about the ways that I am loved and the ways that I give love, this word depicts the best of my loving relationships. When I am loved in a supportive, open and trusting relationship, I am free to be who I have been created to be. Love does not force you to change. Love does not restrict your gifts. Rather, healthy love frees you to be your best.
A relationship that believes in freedom challenges you to grow. I can remember a relationship I was in as a teen where we regularly would tell each other, “I hope things never change.” That is a sad tale of love. Thriving love relationships are always changing. These relationships are between humans. You only need to attend day 1 of Biology 101 to know that living things are constantly changing. The only time things don’t change is when we die. This is true of love, as well. Relationships with the freedom to grow and change have people that are growing and changing. Freedom is the value by which new life is formed, in cells, in the soul and in the heart.
The best relationships in my life are built around friendships and partnerships that encourage me to freely explore new things. Whether it be a hobby, band, education, skill or a new author, loving relationships are looking for ways to encourage freedom of thought and interest. When change and growth produce fear, love is stifled. The misconception in this area is that change produces distance. Sure, some things take you away from each other, be it in time or energy, but in healthy change there is a reward. The more that your family member or friend is growing into their full selves, the deeper your relationship can be.
My husband loves cycling. He chooses to get up daily at 4am to ride his bike. I think this is stupid. But he adores it, so I am for it. When he has the opportunity to go for a long ride, or get out on his mountain bike, I always say, “How was your ride?” Without fail, his response is always, “It was life-giving.” Lucas did not ride bikes like this when we married 2 decades ago. I did not have a room filled with glitter and crafts. But as the seasons of life have changed and our bodies and talents have morphed, we have encouraged each other to find life. He hates glitter. I hate 4am. But freedom in love is not about what you want. It’s about celebrating what brings other people life.
I wonder if we miss the correlation to faith in this conversation? The more time I spend centered in God’s desire for me, the more I see that there is immense freedom to be exactly who I am. Faith is not about conformity or restriction. It is not about rules or even suppressing the things we enjoy. God loves us just the way we are. God loves us in all that we are becoming. God’s deepest desire is to be woven into the fabric of our souls and remind us daily – hourly – that we are loved.
YOU are loved. You ARE loved. You are so very LOVED. There is so much freedom in that.