I think we have been taught that love means never saying no, always being there, always supporting, never walking away, never pushing away, being always constant, being always present. And confuse the real of “love” with the convenience of “love”.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” And all that. Perfect for weddings. The one word in all that for me is “it” – love is “it”. And “it” has that quality of constancy, of presence, of sameness, of permanent sameness.
There is an advert for perfume on tv here, in which a vivacious young lady is painted (in 46 seconds) as a free loving passionate spirit of love (of the physical world) with the strap-line (and sensuous invitation to camera), “And you … “What would you do for love?”
There is a phrase to describe such relationship partners: High Maintenance.
Those “relationship partners” who require (a lot!) of time and focus and energy and money (paying for the “free spirit” activities) for “the relationship” to be passionate and vivacious.
High Maintenance is NOT a compliment.
“The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.” Mark 8:11-13
It strikes me that Jesus can be viewed as either high maintenance or not. Either a free loving spirit or not. Either one who invites of me, “And you … “What would you do for love?” or not. Except that is not my experience.
My experience is that I am invited to relationship that suits my being – that suits my changing being – my changing preferences. That suits me not being an unchanging “it”. Nor is of an unchanging God Soft Hands Jesus – never an “it” being – and never an “it” of “taught (biblical) love” – but a loving and living “real” that grows and develops as I live and love.
I think it is too easy to buy-into the tradition of church (biblical) teaching and view these two verses as stuffed full of “its”:
The Pharisees – a permanent “it” of avarice and control, always a malevolent presence, a “them” (to our “us”).
A sign from heaven – a recognisable divine intervention, a miracle, a visible physical (obvious) “something”.
This generation – obviously theirs and not ours, a time in the past (not like our time of the present).
Jesus – perfect, static perfectness, always perfectness, always wise (beyond our words), always (really) “God” but not (really) “God” – and “Jesus” just another “it” we can never be.
A litany of its – just like the “it” of love.
But I have argued with God – I have argued with Jesus – the biblical stereotypes I was taught …
But I have asked for (biblical stereotype) signs …
But I have seen Jesus walk away (with a tut and a flounce).
Because I was taught I was not good enough – not (biblically) good enough … not (follower) enough … not (faithed) enough … not (saved) enough … not (good) enough … but ALWAYS a sinner saved by grace freely given (With a f****ng HUGE IOU, Paul!)
And that has all been in the short space a few decades. My present time and my generation.
But I have changed. A few short decades of being married and creating a family … the few short decades of being alive … I still change – I will always change. Which is why the “it” of love has become UNreal – not an “it” – just as I am not UNchanging.
My love is not a neat unchanging “it”.
My loving IS me and I am a changing love – so the biblical God and Jesus have become my personal God Soft Hands Jesus – and GSHJ changes (weirdly) to match my changes. I was that High Maintenance free spirit. I have asked my biblical God and Jesus, “And you … “What would you do for love?” And I have found a “me” that no longer demands, no longer sees a flouncing God or Jesus, no longer sees the cardboard cut-out biblical stereotype as taught.
And had I not been all that … had I not been the High Maintenance “it” …
Would I have ever found the real living and loving of really loving and really being loved (and really being invited to really change)?