What is Love? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)

It was either that or: “Love: The Deadly Choice”. You’re welcome.

This isn’t actually that post. While writing and re-writing that post I realized my perspective was off. I was writing about unrequited love but my definitions were off.

I assumed that loving someone and getting nothing in return was a destructive force on one’s well-being. But as I was editing away, I realized that true love has no expectations on its object. When we love someone and expect something in return we aren’t actually loving them.

If we get hurt when they don’t return the favor, were we really loving them unconditionally? Or were we merely looking for a tit for a tat?

Loving someone means dispensing with most of our expectations and loving them simply for them, not what they do for us. Expectations lead to disappointment and disappointment leads to bitterness. When one falls prey to bitterness it is nearly impossible to love. It is best to leave most expectations out of the relationship. Take care of your own actions and don’t place such a premium on the actions of your beloved.

This doesn’t mean that all expectations are wrong. One should have reasonable expectations that the one she loves will fulfill things he gave his word on: vows, promises, agreements on daily living arrangements, and others. However, even when those promises are unfulfilled, she ought to fulfill her own. It was her vow and agreement also.

Perhaps this is when unrequited love does become deadly. One must kill pride and the desire to demand what is owed by covenant. One must choose to love because it is what he or she promised. One puts to death one’s own pride and desire for retaliation and instead chooses to love his or her beloved because that was the promise made: to love until death.

Loving someone like this requires us to forgive when we are wronged, either by omission or by commission. Forgiveness is not an easy thing. Allowing someone back in who betrayed trust or withheld promised benefits means opening ourselves up to the possibility of having our love hurt again. As Christians however, we must forgive because Christ has forgiven us. Christ forgave our debt to God, and unless we want to end up like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, we have to learn how to forgive debts from others.

And as Christ restored our standing with God we should strive as much as possible to restore the standing of one who has hurt us. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us, therefore we should emulate His love and forgiveness, even when our flesh tells us otherwise.

So, as the song asks, what is love?

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

If that is love, what is not love?

When we impatiently push our beloved to change, we fail to love.

When we are unkind in our words and deeds, we fail to love.

When we hold ourselves in too high an esteem, pushing down our beloved, we fail to love.

When we insist on our own way and put a prerequisite on our affection, we are failing to love.

When we resent our beloved or grow irritated at their failures towards us, we are failing to love.

When we allow evil into the relationship, we fail to love.

When we fail to bear with their weaknesses, think them liars, give up on them, or decide we just can’t handle their failures anymore, we fail to love.

When we quit loving, we have to ask whether we really ever loved at all.

Love is an action. It is a constant choice we make to put others above ourselves. Even though our motives for loving others should not be to gain something in return, it is helpful to understand that sometimes our love will not be returned. Sometimes we are spurned by those we elevate.

This is why promising to love someone is a risky choice. We risk the destruction of our happiness and comfort if that love is not returned.

None of us love perfectly. We all fail to love at one point or many. Knowing this, we should certainly sympathize with those closest to us. They will fail us and we will fail them.

But true love forgives a multitude of sins.

Trigger Warning

I used to have an issue with the term “triggered”. But more and more I think I understand it.

It’s not usually anger though. It’s usually anxiety. Or depression. Or just a general sadness. Sometimes there are things that just make me physically twitch. 

When I stopped being triggered by the term itself I actually started being able to identify the triggers and manage them. I don’t have to be triggered. I don’t have to react to certain stimuli at all. I can choose to ignore. I can choose to capture my negative thoughts and feelings and correct them. I am not a slave to feelings and negativity. 

Beyond all that, I can create healthy boundaries (another term that used to trigger me) to prevent the triggers from occurring in the first place.

How do you, dear readers, manage the negatives in your life? How do you handle the triggers? I’m still learning and any wisdom is always welcome! 

This was previously published as “Steamed” here: https://www.publish0x.com/driptorch-studio/steamed-xodqgl

Taking Time

“Take time for yourself.” They say.

I’ve never thought that way. Sure, I will sit around and waste time. I will neglect my responsibilities and fixate on some unimportant project. I may even stare at a screen for several hours chasing Wikipedia trails or harvesting endless memes.

But is that time for myself?

That’s just settling. Or being irresponsible. Irresponsible if I’m not doing what I should. Settling if I’m not doing what truly makes me happy.

I don’t enjoy spinning my wheels. There has to be an end product to most of my activities. It could be as simple as a clean room. Yes, I do take joy in cleaning, much of the time. Call me crazy.

But some “activities” have no lasting effect. Some things have to be enjoyed for their own sake. Some things can be undertaken even if the end result isn’t exactly what you hoped for. You still gained experience with whatever it is.

Grumpy “Parrot”, Oil pastels on Paper, 2019

Though I have been fairly absent from this site I assure you that I have been productive. Mainly I have been keeping up with my other page, posting every single painting I have ever done. Doing that with a commentary on each one is no small feat.

I’ve also been writing in my “journal” more. Writing by hand tends to slow one down and force him to focus and think about each word (not to mention spelling without a crutch). Most of that will never see the light of day on here. No one may ever read it, it may never help me be productive on this page, but at least it helped me through the difficulties of life for a time.

There is a certain temptation to air all my dirty laundry here. This could easily become just a public diary to gripe about my struggles. But personal matters are often best kept personal, especially when they involve others. So I have tended to stay away from here, just so I don’t fall prey to that temptation.

Honestly, “time for myself” is often just as simple as sitting down and writing out a train of thought that’s been bugging me. Clearing my head and organizing thoughts on a page is frequently all I need to do to relieve the stress of my day.

But sometimes it’s not.

And I have no idea what to do instead.

Kinda done with it all right now…

Dailyish Thoughts #83

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Coming to Florida soon

Back in Florida. All good things must come to an end, and our working vacation was no exception. Tomorrow I have an interview, and the next day, and the next day, and Monday. It’s going to be a looooong week. So many options. I kinda just want to keep freelancing, but in order to get a car to freelance, I need a “real” job.

Long drives allow for much thinking. So much thinking…. At some point I hope my life slows down enough to write it all down. I’ll sum up: Most of the Social Justice people are virtue signalling narcissists. Most of the social justice movement isn’t really concerned with helping people as it is concerned with it’s own image. Most of it also hinges on a collectivist worldview. Patriarchy and much of the “Christian” marriage and child raising advice out there makes your spouse and children into your enemy. Leftists are like locusts, they move out of the states they have decimated to states like Florida and then elect leftists who in turn decimate the new state, driving them to move to another state and begin the cycle anew.

There were other ones but it is late and I have an interview tomorrow. Go read the links and get an idea of my background before I write more and confuse you!

 

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Monday Monday

An interesting thing happens when spouses reunite. Everything else kinda goes by the wayside. Emotions are stirred. Physical desires flare up. Stories are exchanged. Jokes are made. The outside world disappears for a bit.

It’s like a honeymoon every time. Except our honeymoon was awful. But that’s a story for another day.

I had plans. I was going to take a bunch of pictures of Albuquerque. I was going to make posts. Life was going to keep going as usual. Ha! Yeah right. Once that woman comes into view nothing else exists.

I’ve mentioned before that if you ever stop seeing posts to suspect that I died two weeks ago. I used to be two weeks ahead on this thing. Lately it’s been seat of my pants! So don’t worry, I’m not dead. I’ve just been distracted.

Maybe the rest of this week will be normal.

What’s this “normal” anyway?

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The Exhaustion of The Hunt

Maybe I have mentioned this before, I’m a romcom aficionado. I get all teared up and then all warm and fuzzy after watching them. Even a good romantic drama gets me right in the feels. I’m sappy. Too sappy.

There is a common theme in a lot of these comedies, a theme that has also shown itself in stand up routines and has seeped into my own social life: finding a mate is hard work.

My wife and I occasionally have the “if you died” discussion (sounds morbid I know) and we have both come to the conclusion that we would end up old spinsters.

Well, she thinks she would be, and I think I would be, but we are pretty sure the other would be just fine.

She’s hot, she’s hilarious, she has other qualities that would be inappropriate to discuss on this blog, why would she have a problem finding a man?

I’m hot (apparently), I have a great personality, I connect emotionally, and I’m good at… things…. Why would I have a problem finding a mate?

Because the market sucks!

I don’t envy the 20 and 30 somethings out there playing the field and trying to pick up women. I don’t wish to trade places with anyone trying to find someone to settle down with. Even the thought of perusing dating apps and bars and even church is enough to make me want to stay single.

From what I can tell listening to comedians and friends, people are mean. They are deceitful, manipulative, emotional, selfish, and ugly. All the attractive ones (ie not like those) are taken. It is an awful world out there for love.

Even if I managed to snag a good one, it wears out my spirit just thinking about going through the initial stages of a relationship right now.

I remember the boiling passion of our early relationship, it would be insane to go back to that. I am quite content with the simmering passion we have now, the kind that occasionally flashes out of the pan, but never leaves us feeling burned out by the other.

If I ever end up in the market for a new lover, I will probably end up taking out a want ad in the paper, asking for a particular set of qualifications, a photograph, and a promise that she is not nearly as sappy as me.

Because that would just be too exhausting.

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Daily Thoughts #69

Living on a mountain with little internet and no TV is great. Apparently there are a bunch of things I should be up in arms about or worried about that actually have little to do with my everyday life. I’m glad I have enough actual things to worry about that I don’t have to take to the internet and whine and scream from the rooftops.

I could sit around all day watching artsy fartsy “films” and drinking wine. But my wife? Beer and action flicks. I like her.

Favorite quote from today’s artsy fartsy film: “Sans toi, les emotions d’aujourd’ hui me seraient que la peau morte des emotions d’autrefois.”

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Fatherhood Is Not Babysitting

This was in a Facebook group I’m in. Most people got the joke. One guy commented:

“What exactly is this meme saying?

Why is the woman abandoning her God given role as mother “for the next few days”?

Why is the father being regarded by both women almost as a boyfriend?”

My response was “you gotta be trolling.”

But looking at his timeline I really don’t think he was. His posts show that his worldview assumes men and women were created exclusively for distinct “roles”, women to pump out babies and stay with them constantly until they are capable of pumping out their own, and men to go out of the house most of the time to till the fields and provide the means to buy food (which definitely falls into the woman’s role). These roles are rigid and unbending.

I’m not completely opposed to the idea of roles. In any organization, such as a family, division of labor is helpful to ensure that all jobs are taken care of.

But implicit in this guy’s worldview is the idea that men are incapable of raising children. The fact that a woman would “abandon her God given role” and leave her children in the incompetent hands of their father is appalling. We all know men don’t have the capacity to nurture. We know their attention spans are way too limited to ensure the kids get all that they need to survive.

Implicit in this worldview is the concept that fathers are nothing more than babysitters when they take responsibility for the care of their children. If this guy had his way, the mother would never be out of the child’s presence. The father would will never be left out of his league watching the kids for a few days, let alone a few hours.

Maybe I am being uncharitable. Maybe this guy is a great father. Maybe he lets his wife “abandon her role” and go out occasionally. I don’t know.

All I know is I take exception to the idea that men are useless for raising children. I reject the notion that fathers are babysitters and the jokes about them needing “rescue” and being incompetent.

This guy may not have understood the meme, but I think most of us got the point loud and clear.

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A Successful Marriage, Just Out Of High School

Circa 2001 B.B. (Before Beard)

“You literally just dated and married someone from middle/ high school and stayed together?”

Yep. That’s exactly what happened.

Having that pointed out made me realize just how complicated life really is. Especially the finding and keeping a mate part.

I was blessed to meet a girl at the beginning of high school who simply latched on and never let go. One of my fondest memories of our early relationship was when I took her hand to lead her through a crowd and she stayed attached for hours afterwards. She literally would not let go of me. I asked her to go out with me fully expecting her to get over me within a month or so. Nope. She was mine and there was no changing it.

That certainly makes it sound easy doesn’t it? I mean, compared to the majority of people our experience was pretty simple. One girlfriend (unless you count that one for two weeks in 8th grade) and one boyfriend (unless you count that one in kindergarten). No breakups or heartaches, no chasing and wondering, no getting attached to someone who wasn’t interested. Compared to the norm we are freaks of nature.

But it wasn’t easy.

Starting out together that young created all sorts of headaches others avoid. It didn’t take very long to realize that we wanted to be together forever. But since “everyone thinks that about their high school sweetheart” no one believed us. We got engaged in secret and wracked our brains about ways to make it happen. Elopement was not completely off the table, folks.

And temptation… There is a reason the Bible says to get married if you burn with passion. When you are young and truly in love there is a strong passion for physical connection. “True love waits” is a silly slogan. True love commits and becomes one flesh as soon as possible.

It wasn’t easy after marriage either. Being young and immature (though you think yourselves quite wise) makes living with another sinner difficult.

We didn’t have the typical surprises many people experience after marriage. With nearly six years literally growing up together there really weren’t any secrets or skeletons or odd habits we didn’t know about.

No, our difficulties came because we read the wrong books and listened to the wrong advice and took the wrong pills. The first months of our marriage were hell. We had a foundation in the many years together, but the walls built in those first months was full of cracks and holes.

It took a while to get our footing. It took longer to gain any sense of success in our marriage.

How’d we make it work?

Well, first off, divorce is not an option. It has never been a part of our vocabulary. Even during the times when one of us (or both) wants to leave “divorce” is not a word we ever use.

Loads of patience is the second. Love is not love without patience. That may mean waiting a loooong time for a change in your spouse. It may mean years of gentle nudging in the right direction (not nagging, nagging is impatient) before you see a result. It may mean bearing infirmities much longer than you would like. Patience does pay off though. In the long run you find that you can bear more and you love each other more.

Third, a big helping of stubbornness. I won’t let her go. And she won’t let me go. By golly we made this commitment, we are going to keep it! There is no one else that I want, so I am going to selfishly cling to her with all my might. If something I do is hurting her I’m going to work on myself to change it. Because I want her. And she is one thing in my life that I actually have. Nothing else that I want ever seems to happen, so I will hold tightly to the one that has happened.

We were blessed to meet so young (and cursed) but there is no reason why you can’t be blessed to meet someone later in life.

You just have to grab them and not let go.

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Why Get Married?

As much as I would like to stay away from outrage, sometimes I have nothing else to write about. So here is something I found a bit outrageous:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1534576779919294&id=254517854591866&_rdr

Why should you get married?

According to this woman we should get married not for love but for what the other person brings to the table. We should marry for the network, for the community that we can build, and for the wealth that we can acquire from the marriage.

Basically she says the most important question to ask when considering marriage is “What can he/she do for me?”

While I do agree we should not be jumping into marriage just because our feelings tell us to, I doubt she has thought through the rest of her argument.

Just as feelings fade, so do networks, so does wealth, so does the ability to build. What is she going to do if her man gets hurt and can’t provide what she’s expecting from him? What happens if his business ventures fail or his friends leave him? What happens when they are old and just can’t build anymore?

What is she bringing to the table?

True love is not just feelings and fluff. True love is desiring to serve the other person no matter what. True love doesn’t ask “what is he bringing me?” but instead asks “what am I bringing to him?”

We should get married for true love.

In the long run it is true love that builds a family and a community. True love builds wealth in more than just materials. While it is true that sometimes you don’t like each other, true love endures even the most dull periods of feelings.

I get what she’s trying to say. Don’t marry a loser. If the person you have fluttery feelings for can’t hold onto a job or friends or even family, they may not be ready for the responsibility of marriage. Maybe you should move on if you are ready for marriage.

But should you only consider what the other person can do for you? No. Life is too short and volitile to get married for security and stability. What people bring into a relationship will change over time. What you should be asking is “What am I bringing right now that we can use to build a life together?”

If that answer is “not much” or “I don’t know” you might want to reconsider.