Love and Exploitation

Friday, March 14, 2008

Someone recently told me that love is not need. If you think that you may only be loved when you are needed, or if need characterizes your own love, then you're just setting yourself up for exploitation.

I thought that was rather profound. And rather pointed. And a little too close to home. I had just been venting to Pete about some friends of mine who never talk to me except when I can do something for them, without really considering that I would do just about anything to gain their friendship.

Exploitation, though?

I considered the pastor's family I babysat for in high school, who very easily moved on to another sitter, not even considering the bond I had with the kids or how much it would hurt me. I had babysat for many hours without pay, even. But I never heard from them again. That felt like exploitation.

I thought about a conversation I had with a friend when I was in Bible college, who asked me why I wanted a boyfriend. In response to my list of reasons, he noted, "Those reasons are all about you. What about him?" I revised my list and my attitude so that my goal was always for the guy's best. But in a later friendship, my need suddenly surfaced, and I *couldn't* give the guy everything he wanted. Did I originally want to exploit the guy, and then try to exploit myself instead?

In my marriage, I am realizing that I have needed Pete, but I have not loved him as I want to. As I am discovering more about what love really looks like, I am realizing that if I love Pete, I am walking the same path he walks, seeing the things he sees, dreaming the dreams he has. My desperate, almost grasping need for him to be with me isn't love.

And then I consider my love for God. I need Him, so much. I can't survive the stuff of this life without Him. But He wants me to love Him. He commanded it - with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. How in the world do I do that on all of those levels? What does it mean to be so consumed with Him?

I wonder if part of the answer lies in another statement Jesus made: "We love Him because He first loved us." If perhaps I know in my deepest heart that He loves me, my love will come in natural response.

Of myself, though, I have a to-do list to prove to Him that I love Him. I want Him to be able to use me... Is that exploitation?

Is love action/actions? If God is love, then love is a person. This is interesting to consider when I realize that the only way I may be able to love God is through His Spirit inside me, which isn't me anyway.

Does anyone have any thoughts?


PaperYarnGirl said...

This is one of those "beyond the mystery" issues for me. I've had the same catch-22 conversations with myself. If God loves me, and wants the best for me, then why is it so wrong to want things to at least work out decently for me. Shouldn't I be able to expect to be loved? Yet, if I act out of that expectation, rather than simply loving someone else because the Love within me compels me to do so, then aren't I just loving them to get something out of the relationship? Don't I do the same with/to God? Argh... not many answers, but some of the same questions.

Naomi said... is it that we end up thinking some of the same things when we hardly ever actually talk or see each other? :-P

Recently I've been directed back to the seemingly overused 1 Corinthians definition. Love is patient . . . rejoices in the truth . . . hopes all things . . . believes all things. When it comes to loving other people, I find that I can't even try without letting Him love through me.

That said, I think that love, to some degree, IS need. It's a need for God and all that He is. When you bring it down to human interaction, it gets tricky. Jesus Himself was led as a lamb to the slaughter; does that mean we let ourselves get walked all over by anyone who feels like taking advantage of us?

I'm pretty sure the answer to that is no, but I've fought so much guilt over that question...and this comment is already longer than most of my recent blogging :-P

Lynette said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said:

"I wonder if part of the answer lies in another statement Jesus made: "We love Him because He first loved us." If perhaps I know in my deepest heart that He loves me, my love will come in natural response."

For me, I only began to be able to love when I realized I couldn't. How's that for a paradox? :-) It was only when I saw how selfish I am and at the same time saw how unselfish Christ is AND I experienced His Love for me in spite of who I am, that I began to know true Love! In being loved, I found ability to love. Not selfishly and not from me, but from Him and Who He is: Love!

So yes, I see our love as being a natural response to His Love, a spontaneous outcome of Him and His Life in us! NOT something that we can do or manufacture, but something which He IS and does for us, in us, and through us! :-)

Post a Comment

Talk to me, if you like.