We receive love in childhood through affection, wise discipline, affirmation, laughter, play, prayer . . . in lots of ways both large and small. We start to make our own lists of what love is while we are still in the womb, and we add to it throughout our childhood. Then we put it in our love box, wrap it up so prettily, and wait for someone to come along and satisfy all the requirements we have set up.
Our definition of love is inadequate when it is limited to the definition we made based on our early experiences. Even in the best of homes, no parent is perfect. We are going to get hurt. All of our requirements are not going to be met. There will be times when there is an inadequate amount of love given to meet the need we have at that certain time or that may be our misguided assessment. And so our love definition can get twisted. We make judgments and vows about what love is and isn’t, and these misperceptions keep us from giving or receiving a full measure of love.
- You don’t really love me. If you did, you would do this or that.
- When I get married, my husband won’t work all crazy shifts like my dad did. He will always be home for supper and able to attend all the children’s programs.
- My wife will always have the laundry done in a timely manner — I’ll always have just what I need to wear hanging in the closet. And the house will be neat, not like the pigpen I grew up in.
- When my children grow up and get married, they will want to spend all their holidays with us.
The purpose of these blogs on love is to discover what our individual definitions and requirements are of love—what have we wrapped up in our boxes called love? We need to understand that our unredeemed love involves manipulation, exploitation, possession, control, and demand. The opposite of unredeemed love is sacrificial love, that’s the love we learn about from God and his Word.