• Jemima Burns

Looking for Love

As Christians, we try to love people. It kind of comes with the territory. But it isn’t always easy. Some people are very difficult to love. People can be argumentative, ignorant, or just plain cruel. Sometimes we’re just not in the mood to be loving.

But none of these things is an excuse for failing to love. We may never be as good at it as Jesus was, but we can definitely try. And if you’re anything like me, then you can definitely try harder than you’re trying now.

Most of us show love through our actions without even thinking about it. We subconsciously hold doors open, we spend hours with someone without realizing, we give compliments automatically. Because when you feel love for someone, it’s easy to show it. But what about when, for whatever reason, we’re just not feeling it? What about when someone isn’t easy to love?

Acts of love are most significant when they’re active, deliberate choices rather than intuitive. Jesus, for example, asked the Father to ‘let this cup pass’ from him, to relieve him from the cross (Matthew 26:39). He didn’t want to die, but He did it anyway, for us. And Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his flesh–but he continued to serve God and the church through his unanswered prayer (2 Corinthians 12:8).

I’m not saying that love means more if we get hurt in the process. But acts of love have more impact when we try to speak someone else’s love language, rather than expect them to translate ours. When my husband buys me chocolate, it means all the more to me knowing that he doesn’t naturally think to buy gifts, not to mention he isn’t a fan of chocolate. And me looking past the fact that he doesn’t like chocolate is my reciprocal act of love.

Pay attention to the people that you care about. Notice what sorts of things they do for you and try to do something similar in return. If your mum loves to cook for you, do some chores for her. If your roommate always buys your takeout, pick up something in a shop that reminds you of them. If your friend often invites you over, invite them out for dinner. It’s just like the copycat games we all played as kids, only less about winning and more about love.

Paying attention to the way other people love you is the best way to figure out how to love them in return. It isn’t a secret formula for how to be a perfect friend, or partner, or child–but it is a step on the path towards deeper, more intentional love.

So, have a look at what the people in your life do for you. You never know, you might be surprised by how much you were missing because you were too busy waiting for someone to buy you chocolate.