Just what does it mean to truly love someone? Many may say its ‘preferring the needs of the other person over yourself’. Being in a new relationship we’re beginning to learn the delicate steps of the dance. “Where do you want to go?” He steps forward. “I don’t know, what do you like?” I step back. “Which style of music do you prefer?” He turns to the right. “My tastes are eclectic, though lyrics are important, so I like to be able to understand the words.” I follow through the spin.
Inevitably we will stumble. Someone’s toes will get stepped on, misunderstood cues will lead to us going in different directions. How do you solve the problem? Do you give up on the dance and find another partner, or do you come back to center, where it makes sense and begin again – offering grace, each honestly owning up to their mistakes, and then laughing together at the awkwardness.
I read the following in a friend’s Facebook status recently, and have pondered it since:
“Preferring one another is more than yielding your opinion to another. Use your platform to bring honor, dignity, and promotion to others even at the risk of seeing them surpass your influence with those around you”
If I use this as my compass for preferring my significant other, what does that look like? He offers me networking contacts to help me in my job; I bring him coffee and sing his praises to his boss. I get to church early to help him with setting up the sound equipment; he introduces me to a whole new church family and expands my personal territory for ministry opportunities. This all makes sense and can initially seem easy for romantic relationships, but what does it mean outside of that sphere? How do I truly love and prefer my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. What about the guy on the corner holding the cardboard sign? What does it look like to really prefer them?
Our society so loudly proclaims “Its all about you.” “Do it your way.” And it is SO easy to fall into the trap, to become self-aware and absorbed into vainglory and personal achievement. I ask myself, what society do I really belong to? Is it this culture or the Kingdom of God? “A humble and contrite heart He will not despise.” vs. Look out for numero uno. “Turn the other cheek.” vs. Stand up for your rights. “Be the servant of all.” vs. Serve yourself.
“Wuv. Twoo wuv.” As Wesley always told Buttercup when she asked for something “As you wish…” even to throwing himself tumbling bottom over top down the hill, we need to learn how to truly love our God, our families, and our friends. And even more importantly the marginalized, the out cast, and the broken. When we can offer a hand up instead of pitying handouts and use our influence and platforms to propel them into something greater, I think we will begin to glimpse a measure of what Kingdom living and purpose is really supposed to be, to experiencing true love.