Archive | February, 2013

A Question for Love

17 Feb

Romans 5:6 – 8

A Question for LoveMost of us would know that recently a lot of people in the world commemorated St. Valentine’s day, where people will give flowers, chocolate, cards, and anything to prove their love to their beloved. Love is everywhere. Couples had their dinner together, and a lot of them had a great night. In some parts of the world, people even get married (or at least trying to) on Valentine’s day.

A couple of days before the day, though, one of the pastors that I know who lived in Indonesia posted an interesting blog post, and I feel that I had to share it. After receiving his permission, I translated the post to English, and I’ve added some things that I’ve experienced on my own.

You can find love between a husband and his wife. You can also find love between a husband and a woman who’s not his wife. You can find love between a man and an older woman. You can also find love between two men. It’s a portrait of love in postmodern era, something that Seno Gumira Ajidarma, an Indonesian author of short stories, essays and movie scripts, said in his collection of short stories called “A Question for Love” (translated directly from Bahasa Indonesia: “Sebuah Pertanyaan untuk Cinta”).

In the book which was based on every day observations on daily things, it seems like love itself is no longer boxed by the aged social norms and beliefs. Love transcends limits, overcomes challenges, and frees itself from rules. As a result, we can see a lot of love stories that some might think unique and out of its place.

 To Love and Be Loved

The stories that are illustrated in the collection of short stories shows that love is still one of the primary necessities of humans. Times may change, people may come and go, technology may develop quickly, but humankind needs love. We need to love and be loved. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we will find that to be loved is being put after physiological and safety needs. The problem is, what kind of love that we actually needs?

We humans are oddballs. We put expectations in every single thing that we do, and love’s no exception. We love and we expect to be loved back. Some people might say they don’t need to be loved, but that’s not true. I have seen, and I trust some of you also have seen, a child that grows up into a delinquent, rebel youths that doesn’t have any respect for his or her parents, simply because the parents refused to love them.

At one time when I was riding a train home, I saw a family in the carriage, where a boy, aged 8 years old at most, swore and badmouthed almost everyone in the carriage. His mother and his elder sister were trying as hard to shut him up with a lot more swearing, and despite their effort, they were unsuccessful. His dad and two other younger siblings just stayed silent and pretended nothing happened. And the worst part was that, the boy knew that his parents couldn’t do anything and kept throwing tantrums. What went wrong in this somewhat dysfunctional family? Was it because of the lack of love?

There’s also a lot of people that correlate love with sexual relationship. Where there is love, there is sex. It’s no wonder that people think that sexual intercourse is the actualisation of love itself. There’s a whole lot of questions in online forums where teenage girls and youth are struggling with their love interests’ “demands“. Is this the kind of love that will fill our basic necessities? Is it true that people who never had any sexual acts will never know true love?

There are countless of stories, particularly in eastern countries or in countries where marriage is still being regarded as a sacred matrimony, about girls who got pregnant before tying the knot with her boyfriend. Most of these stories will end in two ways: either they will have to be married, or the girl will have to abort the child. These kinds of stories usually brings a realisation (to the girl, mostly) that she was actually being used, instead of being loved.

Based on those stories, I realise that there is one single, simple fact that we often forgot: we need to be loved, not used. Being loved means being accepted. It means being acknowledged as who we really are, with both our positive and negative traits. If to love means to accept unconditionally, then loving someone is not an easy task. We can easily love something that is good and interesting from other people, but we hardly accept something that is bad or boring. In the end we try to compare and weigh both sides, giving more attention and love on those who we deem interesting, and showing disapproval on those who we deem unworthy.

Sadly enough, we have double standards in regards to love. Even though we measure our love to others, we expect and long for people to love us for who we are. We are often disappointed when people will only accepted us for our good traits, but rejected us for our bad behaviours.

Unconditional Love: A Necessity

We need love, that much is true. A love that can accept us wholly and unconditionally. We need this love because we know that we’re not perfect and there are so many things wrong with us, so many weaknesses that it would be almost impossible to fix. Could there be a true, unconditional love? That is a question for love.

In the terminologies of the Bible, unconditional love is what we call grace. The word grace is often tied to the personality of the owner and giver of the unconditional love, God himself. There is one simple yet beautiful quote that Philip Yancey once said in his book: Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. It is a pure, true love, with no strings attached. A love without any conditions of any kinds. A love that is longed by all of us.

The good news is that we can receive this love from God because He has given it to us. In Romans 5:8 (NIV) it is written:  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That unconditional love was made perfect in Christ’s sacrifice. Not only during His death, but that very same unconditional love was also demonstrated by Christ when He walked the earth. He accepted and forgave a woman who was caught sleeping with someone else’s husband. He accepted and love a corrupt tax collector. Christ knew that there is no greater power than an unconditional love. It is that kind of love that has the power to change someone else’s life for the better.

In this so-called month of love, in the midst of couples celebrating Valentine’s day, have we ever thought that we actually need that unconditional love? Have we ever thought that the people whom we loved so much actually expect unconditional love from us? It is what the family and the girl that I mentioned earlier needs. I believe that when we accepted that we have been loved unconditionally, we will be able to love unconditionally as well.

How many people around us are actually feeling alone, unloved, and unappreciated? Those who feel rejected, denied, unwanted because they had never feel how it is to be loved unconditionally? Those who feel tired, losing, and disappointed because they were being used instead of loved? Take a moment to reach to them, and reflect that very same unconditional love that Christ has given to us. It’s just what they need in this Valentine’s day.

Stay blessed.



Translated from Bahasa Indonesia with permission of the original author and personal experience added to the post.