Here’s another guest blog from an awesome bro! Marshall Pickard is so full of energy and seems to carry laughter with him wherever he goes. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him through another good friend of mine, and it’s so exciting to see breathing evidence of a man living to follow Christ.
Marshall likes to pretend he lives in Chattanooga, even though he is a PR major at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Although one day he hopes to work for an incredible nonprofit organization, his passion has always been writing— especially about his Savior—and he blogs at The Train of His Robe. Marshall’s other favorite things include oceans, The Chronicles of Narnia, European travel, NCIS, tigers, and the Smoky Mountains. Writing bios, admittedly, isn’t his forte.
Are you ready? Let’s jump into it.
Give. Me. Love.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. (Hosea 2:7 NIV)
Since Heart in Bloom has a large focus on purity, especially in relationships, I have felt compelled for a long time to write about a subject that I think plagues my generation’s relationships: How far is too far (emotionally, physically, spiritually)? This question doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships; we wonder what distance we are supposed to maintain in almost all our friendships. This definitely seems like an area of question that trips up many young people and leads to physical immorality or emotional over-dependence.
However, as much as I wanted to talk about this, the words never came. I discovered that I certainly don’t know the answer to the question, and after a short time in my life where I seemed to not be loving anyone in my life correctly, I became convinced of the importance of a deeper question we must ask ourselves: am I giving and receiving love in a healthy, Christ-centered manner?
So many of our problems and sins result from the fact that we are all broken lovers. We want to love people well, but so often we react to them with aggression, lust, jealousy, covetousness, and apathy. Conversely, when we don’t fully embrace the love of Father, we have to work for our own worth and often treasure the acceptance of others idolatrously.
The song “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran really sold me on this point. In this song, a lonely guy is crying out to a woman with whom he is encountering conflict. In one part of the song, he releases a guttural scream for her to love him. It’s amazing how similarly our hearts scream like this for love and belonging. I’ve always rolled my eyes at the cliché analogy of there being a “God-shaped hole” in our lives, but it is honestly very true. There is a place of satisfaction—a deep unfulfilled place within our hearts—that groans for love and attention. Unless we find fulfillment in Christ, we won’t be able to quit adulterously running after other lovers.
I believe there are four fundamental ways we’ve gotten this love thing wrong:
- We overvalue “stuff” in our lives. We might be able to help the poor if we could give up a Starbucks drink or an hour of work once a week. We could actually have time to spend with people we love if we didn’t care more about the new iOS update or the series finale of Breaking Bad. In materialistic America, we spend so much time-consuming media and building up physical treasure for ourselves on Earth that sometimes we completely miss genuine connection.
- We undervalue people in our lives. While it is very possible to have idolatrous relationships, more often than not, the way we love someone is the problem, not our choice to love them in itself. Ironically, Christians many times lock our hearts behind vaults that no one can penetrate. We fail to love people because there are no guarantees they will love us back. Vulnerability is viewed as weakness, and because we all feel insecure, we don’t allow ourselves to be truly known by anyone. As C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.”
- We hate ourselves. It’s no wonder we don’t love others: too often our hearts are closed off to loving one of the most important people in our lives—ourselves. Encased in shame, we don’t let the light of Christ penetrate our darkest mission field—preaching the Gospel to ourselves. We ignore Jesus’ command: “Love your neighbor AS yourself.” When I’m not allowing Father’s love to penetrate my heart, it hardens, and I treat everyone around me as harshly as I’m treating myself.
- We don’t know how to love God. The only way to love God is to recognize that He loved us first. However, Christians today put so much emphasis on our actions, and much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, we build walls between our hearts and the heart of God by reducing our love walk with Him to a set of rules and regulations. Our code of ethics should instead be this: is the choice I’m making a loving action towards my Savior or not?
“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” (Hosea 2:16 NIV)
Lord, let us love this world, the people you’ve placed in our lives, ourselves, and You correctly. Let us not scorn the place deep within us that You have left unsatisfied, but may we chase after You. We know You will satisfy like no other lover can. Stir up love to guide our decisions and our lives.