I love people: They are made in God’s image.
I hate people: We sinned.
I Love people: We are still image bearers.
I hate people: Albeit messed up ones.
I love people: Everything we do, in some way, exhibits the image of God.
I hate people: We tend to twist that image.
I love people: We do good things.
I hate people: We’ll never do good with it being touched by evil.
I love people: I realize God still loves everyone.
I hate people: Compared to that love, we are so very fallen.
I love people: The more I look, the more I see God’s work in our lives.
I hate people: I see what’s missing.
This is the back and forth that goes through my head and heart every time I interact with another human. Sometimes, it settles on love, sometimes it settles on hate. Its like the worst game of picking flower petals and chanting “He loves me; he loves me not.” And every time I discover a new facet of man’s relationship with and to God, I see the love of God as incredible, and man’s status as elevated because of this love. Yet, at the same time, the distance between God’s goodness and man’s fallenness only seems to increase as well. The more I learn about a person, the more I have the potential to love and hate them.
Everything I’ve read in the Bible says to love others, but that’s not natural for me to love every person I encounter. I can look across a room, see someone, and hate who they are. Judgement comes easy, and avoiding the opportunity to love people, even easier. Most of my life has been acting nice towards people, because that’s what love looks like on the outside, but if you poked at the facade at all, it would quickly deflate. I didn’t want to love people, I just wanted to follow what the Bible said to do. It said nothing about what I wanted to do. I preform the action of love, but I lack the desire.
I did not want to love people, I wanted to be socially accepted. The confusion of the action of loving and love is that we assume that love is an action or emotion, but it’s not. It’s one of those weird things that is both at the same time. It’s the desire that elicits action, and the action; The emotion that elicits motion. I can desire to do something, but if I don’t do it, what’s the point? It’s times like these where we can fool ourselves into being satisfied with just the desire, and none of the action.
One of my favorite philosophers, the eloquent Louis C.K., talks about his desire in his stand-up, Louis C.K. Live: At the Beacon Theater. In one of his many stories, he talks about how he often sees young soldiers heading out on the same flight as him, and in a moment of goodness, he thinks it would be a good thing to give the soldier his first class seat.
“I never have. Let me make that clear. I’ve never done it once. I’ve had so many opportunities. I never even really, seriously came close. And here’s the worst part. I still just enjoy the fantasy for myself to enjoy. I was actually proud of myself for having thought of it. I was proud. ‘Ah, I am such a sweet man. That is so nice of me to think of that and then totally never do it.'”
I’ve done this so many times with homeless people and drivers stuck on the side of the road with their broke down car. I have the desire to help people; to love them, but I don’t actually do it. I have the desire to love, but I lack the action of love.
There are some people to which the desire and action of love come naturally. My close friends and Fiancé are a good example. So maybe I’m not at a total loss, but those people are easy to love. What about those that aren’t?
I have this desire in inside me. It isn’t a “want to love”, but it’s a want to “want to love”. This is my want to want; my desire beyond desire. I think this started way back as a want to want to want, etc., and now it’s slowly been cutting out the “wants” that are no longer necessary. I think I’m at the point where, for the most part, I am capable of at least wanting to want to love someone; There are times where I genuinely want to love someone; And sometimes, on rare occasions, I even love them.
It’s not something you force yourself to do. I don’t make myself love or not love. I can force myself into the habit of acting in love, but that’s all it is: Acting. There is a happiness that comes over me sometimes when I find myself loving someone out of love and not the desire to love. It doesn’t happen often, and it can happen in the middle of the person being the worse possible version of themselves. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, I’m just saying that it is possible to get there.
I was listening to the Deconstructionist Podcast the other day (I don’t remember which one, I listen to a lot of them, maybe the one with Jack Caputo) and I heard a wonderful idea mentioned: The word “Eros” which we typically associate with sexual love has a much broader and deeper definition to it. Eros meant something like “the energy of life”, which does sound a lot like Freud’s “libido” now that I write it out loud. Regardless, incidents throughout mythology, specifically Greek mythology point to love originating from divine intervention of the Gods. E.G: Cupid shot his arrows and then his target loved a certain person; and the goddess, Eros, who was the personification of love, and could manipulate it in humans. This got me to thinking about how this reflects what Christians believe about how God is both Love and the origin of love; how without God, there is no love. I believe that it is God who gives us the initial want to want (to want to want…) to love, and as long as we keep pursing that desire, we make our way up the chain until we reach its source.
Even Eros as defined by sexual desire is still a reflection of the bigger concept of Love so often thought about in religion. Love begates love: It’s self-propagating. It is the desire of love that love reproduce and grow and survive. Freud’s “libido” was often defined as a “life drive”. It’s the desire to live and reproduce life. Both this sexual “libido” and the holistic Love have these in common.
And how does love reproduce? It is when you continually love, until love meets love. The only way love can do that is in a world where violence is bred as well, is to love those who commit violence, even if the violence is committed against you. If you don’t reciprocate violence with violence, you inoculate yourself of violence, bringing it to a screeching halt, and potentially infecting the producer of violence with love. Your love is dependent on no one else but yourself. You cannot expect that everyone, or even anyone, will love you.
I heard it at a pre-marriage conference not too long ago, and I think it is wonderful even now: You were called to love, but you were not called to be loved. (There’s a whole article on that at Hannarchy)
So keep up the desire that reaches beyond desire, and finds itself reaching into reality; that love that exists and acts; the want that is and does.