What’s love got to do with it?
Some say love is messy. Unpredictable. Slippery. A bazillion songs have been written on it including some that say that love makes fools of us. In fact, Terry Britten and Graham Lyle penned one song that became a 1984 Tina Turner hit that holds these lyrics. “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a secondhand emotion?”
Is love a secondhand emotion? Is it for the foolish? Is love temperamental, whimsical, or even quirky?
I say no. Love is the opposite of all I just described. Love doesn’t bounce with the breeze. Love doesn’t stay one day and leave the next. I join the Apostle Paul who writes, “Love is not boastful, arrogant or rude. Love does not insist upon its own way, but rejoices with the truth (I Corinthians 13).”
While I understand that some question whether or not love will last when they look at a relationship, perhaps even their own, I think love has gotten the wrong billing. Maybe many of us are using the word love incorrectly sometimes. I say this because love itself isn’t fire or something that is at all fickle. Love is the opposite. It’s grounding and guiding.
If you’re a hardwired romantic like I am, love stories are a real deal. Their love is what makes their lives good and sweet. Couples who have endured decades together—and yes, I’m using the word endured correctly because life is actually (truly) tough sometimes—all have something in common: they realize (or they should realize!) that love is what held them together; it is not something that pulled them apart.
Love doesn’t mean bliss. In fact, sometimes love means sparks fly—a lot of sparks fly. Sparks lead to heat, and heat can lead to fire. Fire leads to things that have been burned or destroyed. And when it is love that is behind the sparks, I say that’s good because whatever burned or has been destroyed in the relationship did need to go up in smoke.
A story will illustrate what I mean here. A couple once asked me to renew their wedding vows. Glorious! I love this great goodness. What made their love story not so sweet but all the more real wasn’t the endless joy and unity they’d experienced as a twosome, it was infidelity. They’d been there. These two privately shared with me what everyone knows: infidelity can ruin a marriage.
But these two didn’t hold on to infidelity and all the divisions that come with it; they chose to hold onto love. Specifically, they chose to hold onto the love they knew, the love that nurtured and sustained them, the love that told them what to say, what to do, and how to be. Things in their relationship needed to burn off and be destroyed because these two let love be their guide.
“We fell out of love,” is something we’ve all heard others say. Perhaps we’ve even said it ourselves. I’m not advocating that all those in marriage need to endure painful, ongoing, tremendous hardships; egad, stop that mess; but I am asking all couples and all people in relationships (and I’m now speaking to us all because here I am including family relationships and friendships) to let love be love. By this I mean let love nurture. Let love sanctify. Let love light. Let love heal. Let love speak in truth so that whatever mess you are going through as an individual or as a twosome does not bury you but bless you.
Yes, we get the word wrong sometimes. Love isn’t gooey sweetness. It’s self-correcting. Love isn’t painful. It is what takes the pain away.
We’ve all been in a fight. We’ve all walked into damaging relationships. And we’ve all said the completely wrong thing at the completely wrong time.
But give love a chance. Always give love a chance—and a voice, and space, and time to do what love does, which is help us see that love and God truly are the same word.