What does love look like?

How do we give love and grace and mercy when we aren’t sure what it looks like? Further, how do we give it when we don’t know what it might look like to the one receiving it even if we had it to give?

Explain love to someone who has lived with abuse and you will find a blank stare, or a cynical smile, a grimace even that says “don’t talk that love crap to me. Love has left its mark on me one too many times.” When love has always looked like danger, felt like pain, spoken to you like you were worthless, smelled like a many days old drinking binge, or hit like a prize fighter on crack, it isn’t received well.

That is what love looked like to me for a very long time. The first time it was offered, I rejected it. I rejected many offers of “love” because I was seeing one thing, and those offering it were seeing another, or I assume now that they were. The truth is I often left so quickly I have no idea what love looked like to them. I never gave them a chance to show me because it felt too dangerous.

I think the first love I really received was that from my son. I knew he loved me because I understood how a child loves their mother. I always loved my mom, no matter what. Even when I didn’t like her much I loved her so I trusted my boy’s love for me because it made sense. Then I met Jesus. I had heard about Him from lots of people over the years. Some of the very people who were handing out abuse and calling it love even told me about Jesus (I guess they didn’t really understand what love meant either).

I didn’t believe He, this Jesus / God man cared about me. I couldn’t believe it. And I couldn’t pray because if He let me down, there would be no hope and I needed hope so I kept Him on the periphery. Anyway, I figured, whether He let me down or not I knew I would let Him down because I knew me. But instead of leaving me when I rejected Him, He loved me anyway in a way that I had never known before; He loved without hurting, without malice, without expectation. He sent kindness into my life and people who spoke my language; people who understood that I couldn’t understand what this “agape love” was . He sent people who were patient when I was not, giving when I was selfish, helpful when I was hurtful, and kind when I was suspicious. He sent people into my life who wanted nothing more than to give into my spirit and this was so foreign to me. I rejected it because I didn’t know how to receive it, I believed I didn’t deserve it, and I was sure it wouldn’t last anyway. And still, Jesus stayed. Finally, when I had lost everything important in my life, everything except my sweet child, I called out to God, screamed really, “if you’re real, if you care, Jesus if you can really love me, please come to me now and save me because I can’t live like this anymore.”

It really did take getting past myself to get to Him. All along I had thought that He would rush in like a knight on a white horse and take me away from all my troubles. I had a fairy tale idea of Jesus, a child’s wish and an old wives’ tale, but Jesus wanted me to know the real him. He didn’t want me bound by fantasy; He wanted me to know the truth so the Truth could make me free. All along I had thought that others were standing in the way, that it was “someone else” making the choices in my life but for so long the only thing between me and my Savior was me. So I stepped out of the way and I received the love He offered the best I could and do you know what happened? He loved me and let me receive what I could, then He kept on loving me till I could receive more. He never pushed, He never forced, He just loved.

And then God sent a human love beyond motherhood that I could understand; He sent my Tommy. My husband who has loved me with the truest love I’ve ever known. He loves me all the time, even when I know I’m being unlovely. I’m sure he doesn’t like me all the time, I mean how could he when I don’t even like me all the time? But like Jesus, he has stayed.

God does use people in our lives; real, imperfect, living breathing people. I know because he has used my son Jacob and my husband and best friend Tommy in mine to teach me that love is real, possible, and that it is worth learning the language of love so that we can both give it and receive it. It really is worth it. Just remember friends, we don’t all speak the same language when it comes to love so make sure you know what you are agreeing to receive and make sure you are offering something worth receiving. Oh, and be patient if you can, some of us take longer to learn than others.

Until next time, Peace



I have it on good authority that this is what love looks like in it’s most honest form…

1 Corinthians 13:4-10

The Message (MSG)

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.


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