What I Mean When I Say “I Love You”

We were given language to use it for beauty.

We congregated at Babel and were struck with this gift, this curse… we were struck with a miracle:

because suddenly, we were given a basis on which to build new cultures. We were given semantics and pragmatics, sounds and cues, meanings and emphases, all of which could provide effective communication, expression…

we could give tangible entities and audible form. We could paint landscapes and stories in the crooks of an ear. We could give some kind of definition to the feelings and thoughts that swirled within our chest.

Beautiful. That curse, that gift, was beautiful.

Yet we’ve failed at its usage,

for at its core, the gift was not for the glorification of self, but for the audible and cultural display of One untouched. We were to become the water on the Earth that reflected His character: namely, when all else is summarized,

Love.

We were to use the diversity and colors to express the meaning of Love.

You could read all of His letters and know that love is not a simple concept. It is messy, uncomfortable, awe-inspiring and all-consuming. It amazes and transforms. It is, for lack of better word, incredible.

Yet we “love” everything now.

“I love pizza.” “I love that chair!” “I love my car.” “I love you.”

When it is convenient.

An unlimited array of words and potential for words, yet the best we could do to define it was:

“An intense feeling of deep affection.”

A stronger form of fondness.

But Love was not meant to be reduced to the description of the hormones and desires that swirl inside of us. It was not meant to describe the temporary things that bring smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts. It was not meant to describe us, but what we are willing to do. 

“I love you.”

It means:

I present God to you.

It means that you have nothing of your own capability that can express the worth, value, and significance of your sister or brother human being. It means that no matter what you do, you could never do enough or think enough good thoughts to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. It means that there is only One who can be everything…

and when you find a person for whom you would like to give everything….

when you run into a stranger who feels a deep sense of lack, and you wish to supplement and overwhelm their gaps with abundance, goodness, grace, and mercy,

when you realize that this world is not enough for someone, and wish to offer them more, you can say: “I love you.”

I present God to you.

“Here! Have this river of satisfying water, this fountain that will never run dry.” (Isaiah 58:11, John 4:14)

“Here! Take everything I can never give you. Take something that goes beyond the emotions, the feelings, the arguments, the disappointments. Take this constant source, for I can never be constant for you.” 

And this statement means sacrifice. It means that only through God, and only with His will and mindset can you learn how to give of yourself for another’s benefit. It means that the thoughts and ideas He contrives will be bigger than you, harder to enact than you can promise, grander and more satisfying than anything you can give.

I present God to you, friend.

I present God to you, my love.

I want to follow His example and lay down my life for you.

I have nothing greater to offer you than He who is everything to me.

How would that change the way we use the word “Love”?


How NOT to Love: The Ache of Waiting

This weekend I had the overwhelming desire to love someone. I’m not talking all the warm and fuzzy feelings or the roses and candlelight; I’m talking about the nitty-gritty and the routine. The commitment. I wanted to brush away tears and hug the pain away, or cuddle on the couch while watching TV simply because we like being close to one another. There are a lot of “if”s, “then”s, “but”s, and “how”s that I’m sure you could come up with, but just hear me out.

I handled this desire the stupid way: I let it all build up. And finally, somewhere between studying solvency ratios and decreasing trends of fertility (bleh, I have a Consumer Economics test tomorrow), I broke. I overflowed with all the hopes, desires, facts, probabilities… it was a lot. But my “brother” D.J. mentioned something that stopped me in my tracks:

“Sometimes, it’s better to not love someone.”

Woah, woah, woah, what?! You must be totally taken aback right now, seeing as how everything about Christ supports love as the greatest commandment (I Corinthians 13:13). But that’s not what DJ was talking about.

At times, I am tempted to pour all of my emotions and hopes into a relationship without the other person’s commitment. And then, when reality slaps me across my face with a crisp “Good morning, sunshine,” I am thrown off guard. I am stunned. I am confused.

So I guess the moral of my story  is to learn when to have self-control over my feelings and desires. I fully believe that loving someone as a friend and bearing their burdens is fully acceptable and even required of us as siblings in Christ. Just look at Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” However, when attraction and a possible romantic relationship are introduced into the equation, it’s probably best to keep a safe distance.

Our emotions, our desire to commit ourselves to another person, and our willingness to glorify Christ within a lifetime marriage are all gifts. I don’t think they should be taken lightly, and I don’t want to give my heart away a thousand times before I offer it to my husband.

Personally, I won’t allow myself to seriously consider entering a like-minded relationship with someone unless he pursues me first.  (Want to know more of what “pursuing” looks like? Click here). I’d like him to value me enough to consider the fragility of my heart and not expect me to take the leadership role in a relationship.

Granted, not every “Will you…?” will be answered with a “Yes.” But I’d like to think that God has an eye on those things. He has His eye on all of my other needs (Matthew 6:26), and He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11), so I trust Him. This is a fact. He is God, He knows all, and so there is no better place for my hopes to rest.

In Psalm 139: 17-18, the king and psalmist David wrote,

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them,
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I am awake, I am still with you.

If my Abba (Hebrew for “Father”) can have  beautiful, innumerable thoughts about me, I have no doubt that He can give my earthly spiritual partner, my husband, the same thoughts. He can show this man what He sees in me and, likewise, put a special vision in my soul to see and call out the beautiful qualities in my husband.

So, romantically speaking, I’m going to try to have the courage not to love right now. I will wait until the timing is right, and until Abba gives me those “sandy thoughts” for the right guy. And though I may feel ready to work at love, all of the pieces of the puzzle haven’t fallen into place yet…

But even the amazing-ness of that yearned-for picture will not compare to the constant glory of Christ. And He is with me, now.

So I lack nothing.

Check Out These Other Posts on Relationships!!

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How to Actually Pursue Her Heart

The following is an honest and poignant perspective from another friend of mine, 21-year-old Ian White. If you could meet him in person, you’d see that he is quirky, witty, and zealous for life. He and his girlfriend of two years, Sarah, serve Christ together and are the epitome of a fun-loving, respectful, energetic couple. 

Do you think you understand what it truly means to pursue or be pursued? This is going to challenge your outlook.

ian and sarah

 

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How to Be a Good Girlfriend

Lie Detector #3: Girls

Loving and straight-forward guidance on how women of God can present themselves as both available and valuable – from the perspective of a man of God. This article is an excerpt from a series written by my fellow Wesley-brother and blogger-friend, Andrew Huang. You can find more of his insight, compositions (he is a musician!), and photography (hire him!) at:

instepintime.com

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Ok, a little off the beaten path of a blog post. I have been identifying a lot of lies out there in my recent writing and this is something I can’t really stop thinking about. So I’m gonna write it. If you haven’t read the previous two, you should! Just scroll down… Anyway: This is not a single lie identification, but a presentation of a great truth that will combat a lot of lies that you believe. And you guessed it: I’m talking to girls. But everyone, including guys, should know and think about this kind of thing. Because I am a guy writing on a “girl” thing, I need to write a healthy preface to make clear exactly what I’m doing here and why I’m doing it.

Before I begin: know this. When it comes to girls I have made many many many mistakes. And though those mistakes created hardship for me in terms of believing in my worth as a son of God and also my worthiness to be made pure, they have given me a platform to share this kind of thing and also a deep hunger to understand what I am about to write about. Also, I understand in Christian culture that it’s super hip for a guy to stand up on a stage (or platform like this) and just say how amazing and beautiful girls are and how they are all worthy and beloved by God. Which is true, but my intention is not at all to paint myself to be some kind of OneDirection SuperChristian who sees girls perfectly just as God does. I’m not gonna sit here and be like “guys get it together and girls sit tight, you are so beautiful and perfect.” I am working on all of this, I’m still a child learning to be like his dad. Make sense?  this whole thing is a really fun topic for me to write about, and I am having a good time sharing it with you. It’s light-hearted and a little off the dome, so let’s have fun with it and talk.  Lastly, I want to speak to you in the spirit of fatherhood. I’m 20, I’m nowhere near that level of maturity – but I hope we can look at this as if a father were saying it to you. So, without further adieu, sisters in Christ : This is how you be a good girlfriend, prepare yourself to be a good girlfriend, and have a meaningful relationship in general. 

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Why Love Is Still the Greatest

Dear friends,

Today was a hard day. I wrote about this day in my personal journal months ago: “I am afraid of what will happen when he starts dating again. Lord, please protect my heart” (paraphrased).

I’ve said a lot of things over the past few hours. They were mostly along the lines of “I will never let a guy know my heart ever again,” and “I think I’m going to be like Paul” (which, if you don’t catch the reference, is indicative of a life of singleness). Or, my favorite was when my dad called to check up on me, saying the usual “other fish in the sea” stuff. My response: “I don’t like fish anymore.”

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When a Heart Breaks…

Psst! Do you wanna know something secret? This time, I’m going to talk about breaking up.

Eek. Such a harsh word… two words… to even type. But some of you may be there – or might be there someday (sorry!) – so I want to share this with you.

One of the reasons it took so long to heal after my first break-up was because I tied my identity to the relationship.


There is a difference between investing in something and defining yourself by your actions. For example, if I spend years studying to be a doctor, I shouldn’t be completely distraught if I am  turned down for a job. I shouldn’t say, “I applied and wasn’t a match. Soooo I guess I throw in the towel now.” No! I could still open my own practice or apply for another job because that rejection wouldn’t define my ability. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand that this same concept applied to relationships. To this day, it is sometimes difficult to separate the very simple fact that “It just didn’t work out”  from “I wasn’t worth loving in that way.”

Sad, sad, story. I kinda chuckled inside right now, though, because it looks so much more heartbreaking when I see those thoughts written out in black and white. But it was heartbreaking at the time. For a long while afterwards, my mind turned over and over with questions of why? Why, God? I tried to do things in a way that would please You. Why?

I don’t have all the answers, friends. I promise you I don’t. But I do know now (or at least I’m beginning to understand) that being “good enough” has nothing to do with it. Whether that person is amazing (as he was!) or totally mistreated you….whether you ended the relationship or your loved one did… you don’t have to feel stuck on the end of that chapter. The next page is yours; the rest of the book is waiting for you to dive into it!

Things are becoming clearer. What someone else sees in me – whether it be platonically, professionally, or romantically – does not at all determine my identity. Because who I am is found in Christ. I live to follow Him, to be with Him. I don’t live for the chance to be valued by a special guy or gazed at with complete adoration. While that kind of relationship is a beautiful thing, I am not in complete disarray because I was “turned down for the job.”

I’m still Sade. I still love to write, and I am still working on the sequel to my first novel, “my baby,” ShakenI am still able to grow in a deeper relationship with the Lord without the aid of a boyfriend who seeks to protect my heart. I still adore palm trees and staring aimlessly at the ocean for hours. I still lose myself in playing the piano.

My dreams of being cherished and pursued in a way that directly mirrors Christ’s affections for me have not changed. I will always be adamant about being set apart. I will always want to pour love on others in the form of letters written in cursive on brightly-colored paper… or random gifts relevant to a previous conversation… or simply a hug and an “I love you!”

But I am not desperate, I am not damaged, and should I be rejected again, my identity is not flawed.

Neither is yours, friend. I don’t know what your life story is, but even if you’ve experienced rejection that isn’t romantic – perhaps something at the hand of a friend or relative – I want you to DANCE in the freedom that you are still His! You are still 100% treasured! And the CROSS was still endured for you. Personally, intimately, unconditionally. You are known to the depths of your soul – every act you committed and everything you will soon do – and His love is not revoked.

So, yeah. Slightly personal, but I’m also glad to share it. I just hope it will encourage you!

He’s Yours Forever

There’s a special significance in Hannah’s story. I don’t have to try translating her sentiments into a modern context; I don’t need to explain the cultural implications of her desires. Why? Because Hannah is easily you, and she’s easily me. Let’s jump into I Samuel 1 to get a glimpse of this woman’s life.

To those around her, she was a mockery. “Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same… Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. -I Samuel 1:6-7

Maybe you’ve been teased, even if jokingly, by your friends for years because the Lord has seemingly withheld the desire of your heart. This could be anything: your dream job, a sense of independence… For Hannah, her earthly desire was a child. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll speak about our earthly desire for a spouse.

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Why Hopeless Romantics Are Neglecting God

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was a hopeless romantic. Now, I don’t know what the official definition is, but a girl on Yahoo! answers defines a hopeless romantic as “someone who puts love and emotions in first place.”

Unfortunately, this description is partially true for me. While I adore Christ and am seeking His will daily, there are some areas where I stumble, and they normally revolve around my ill-conceived notions of love and emotion.

Jimmy Needham has a new song called “Clear the Stage” wherein which he reminds us,

“Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.”

We know this because Luke 10:27 says, “He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Therefore, in a sense, being a hopeless romantic is sinful. Sometimes I will ponder the romantic things about my future love story. I like to imagine the exact moment he asks me to be his wife. I’ll think about the days of our marriage where we’re doing nothing in particular: maybe we’re driving to the grocery store while laughing about what happened at his job earlier that day, or we’re walking around our first apartment stealing flirtatious glances at each other.  I’ll dream about the wedding, our first child…all of that. And of course all of this can be done without even knowing who my husband will be!  <— Sarcasm. My daydreaming may set me up for disappointment – as well as disappointing my spouse – in the future. 

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Why I Like Musicians

This is going to be a metaphor of sorts, so bear with me 🙂

I like guys who play instruments. This isn’t a rule, just more of an observation I’ve made. (Yes, using your voice counts as an instrument). See, I play the piano and sing. I can, first-hand, attest to the consistent and sometimes painstaking dedication required to learn the basic necessities and expound on those skills to create beautiful music. I also know that extremely beautiful music, especially when Spirit-led, is born in moments where the musician is impassioned and submerged in the joy of their art. At that point, playing your instrument is no longer a chore; it becomes an expression. It’s a dance, a duet. When we see someone play a guitar and comment on their excellent skill or hear a soulful singer and feel moved by their tone, we are only seeing the fruit of their labor. We are seeing the tip of the iceberg.

I like musicians because it reveals a hidden character trait: private dedication and motivation. However, our walk with Christ has a very similar effect in the lives of others. People will be moved towards a relationship with Him not by our words or preaching, but how the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is manifested in our lives. You know the fruits of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

The “fruit” metaphor does not imply that we can create these things by thinking really hard about doing them. Instead, they come as a product of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. All of these are fruits. They are the “deeds” referred to in James 2:18-22. To produce them, we must first plant the tree. The seed is faith (John 14:12), which allows for the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the growth of a supernatural relationship-with-our-Heavenly-Father tree in our lives.

So when you see someone who seems to radiate the very Spirit of Christ, understand that you are seeing the fruit of private moments of struggle and tears. You are seeing the victory that comes from battles of prayer, deep study of the Word, and constant reminders of God’s promises. You are seeing someone who has learned, for themselves, the meaning of God’s many titles of glory: Comforter, Healer, Redeemer, Deliverer, Friend, Father, First and Last…the list goes on and on. The man who bears the fruit of the Spirit knows the Lord’s character because he has spent much of his time with Him – just as a musician’s constant practice let’s him know how his instrument works.

I like musicians because their craft can reveal a piece of their heart. The fruits of your spirit will reveal a piece of yours.