What is Love?

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Yesterday, people from all over the world celebrated Valentine’s Day, the day of love, which begs the question, “What is love, anyway?”

Love is something that most human beings long for and seek for most of their lives. I truly believe that within every man, woman and child, there is a place within our hearts that needs to love and to be loved. There’s a place within us that longs to know and to be fully known, and yet despite our obvious flaws, still be loved completely…

Almost my entire life has bee spent seeking the love and approval of others… family… friends… strangers… and even enemies! Rejection from family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what, left me feeling alone and unworthy of love. All too often, I would prayerfully and tearfully ask God what was wrong with me. Why was I so unlovable?

Because of the pain I felt from the rejection of those family members, I was blind to those who truly did love me, just as I am. I was blessed with a husband and children who love me very deeply, and yet, I spent most of my life waiting for them to see the “real me”, which would cause them to reject me too.

As a child, I had to fight to win my parents’ love and approval, and unfortunately, all too often, I failed in my plight. As a result of this, I grew up feeling unloved. For I always did something terrible, which caused them to withhold their love from me. 

Knowing how my family felt about me, I was certain that the God of heaven and earth, who knows all and sees all, could never love me. He has seen the best in me, and the worst in me. He knows every bad thing I’ve ever done and ever thought of doing. He also knows every bad thing that I will someday do, and so I was convinced that He couldn’t love me, until I began to hear His voice…

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

~ Psalm 139:14  NASB ~

I had always felt ugly and defective, both inside and out. As a child, I had buck teeth and a curved spine, which caused me to have to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. And yet now, the Lord was telling me that He had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had made me fearfully and wonderfully in His image. Even so, I still doubted that God could really love me. After all, I had grown up believing that I was unlovable, so how could He love me?

Long ago the Lord said to (Cheryl) Israel:
“I have loved you, My (daughterpeople, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

I was amazed. How could the Lord of all Creation, the King of Glory possibly love me? And yet He not only loved me; He also drew me to Himself. What an amazing God and what an amazing love!

I accepted the great gift of His love, and yet, there was still the little girl within me that wondered, “If God had really loved me and chosen me from the foundations of the world, why had I always felt so unloved? Why had I always felt so alone? What was wrong with me?”

You see, I wasn’t questioning God’s goodness. I was questioning my own worth. I was certain there was something terribly wrong with me, something ugly and unlovable. Then, one night, as I was driving with my daughter, who was pregnant with her first child, while we were discussing baby names and their meanings, the Lord spoke to my heart…

Glancing at my daughter, as I drove, I suddenly said, “Do you know what Cheryl means?”

“No,” she responded, “what does it mean?”

“It means ‘Beloved,'” I replied. 

“Yes, My child. Your name is Beloved, because you are My beloved. I loved you and chose you before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it is I who named you. For you are My beloved, and I have always loved you.”

Suddenly, everything made sense. I am lovable, because God loves me. I am worthy of love, because God has made me worthy, and if God has that kind of love for me, isn’t it possible that He loves you as well? 

Now, my outlook has changed. After all, if God could love me so much, that He would sacrifice His one and only Son in exchange for my life, then how could I not love people, even my enemies, just as He did? Because He loves me so much, I can’t help but share His love with others.

So, what is this love that God has for us, and that He commands us to share with others? Paul, an apostle of Christ, and a great man of God, gives us a wonderful image of what love is, in 1 Corinthians 13…

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

~ 1 Corinthians 13  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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