OK. Stop the presses. Someone wants to talk about sex.
Or sexuality or lust or some other such crazy stuff. And how you know whether that crazy feeling you’ve got is lust or love or lasagna or casserole.
Except, out of respect to my interrogator, I will leave the food out of the picture and answer his question: How do you know if what you’ve got is a case of love or plain ‘ol lust?
As you know, love is a many-splendored thing that will end in rocking chairs and age-spotted hand holding, while as lust… hm… you marry the wrong person out of lust and all of a sudden you’ve got a one-way ticket to crazy land a la Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall. We all know how that ended.
I could tell you things like, “you just know when you know,” or “lust is purely sexual in nature, love is more like a hummingbird is racing through your intestines,” but I decided to pull in the big gun.
Here’s how it went. We were in the McDonald’s drive thru line ordering our breakfast. (Yep, we consume McDonald’s cinnamelts on the way to church on Sundays. It’s our special treat and I’m working to get over the guilt of not cooking breakfast, but, hey, Sunday is about my only day to wear makeup and it takes time to get all this looking good!)
While we were waiting for our order I used McDonald’s free wi-fi to check facebook messages. I read the message. It was lovely. It was from a guy who said the posts this week had created a decent amount of discussion in his group and he’d like to know my take on the lust vs. love controversy. It seems many of his friends are attracted to young women (who may or may not wear makeup on Sundays to church) and wanting to be certain what they feel is the genuine article, the Big “L”, the whole enchilada and not the cheap stuff that’s made by communist Chinese sweatshops.
Then I asked, “What do you think, my love? What is the difference between lust and love?”
He thought for a minute. He chose his words carefully. The he said,
“Lust is about you, how the person makes you feel, what you think when you see them, etc. Love is about them, how you can contribute to their life, how you can make them happy.
“Lust is really all about selfishness; love is unselfish.”
Yep, folks, that’s why I married him. He’s pretty much awesome.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a hearty dollop of attraction is quite handy for any love resulting in marriage – after all, this is the last kisser you’re gonna get! And (don’t tell anyone), you’re going to have to sleep next to them and… it gets worse… you’re going to see them naked. (shhhhh!) So, yes, attraction is a good part of love.
But real love, true love, the kind that results in a marriage match that goes the distance, is about unselfishness.
The Scripture in our wedding wasn’t the Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians, although that’s good stuff. We had a different passage: Philippians 2 (you’ll have to put the reference in when you follow that link).
Philippians 2 tells the story of how Christ chose to sacrifice for each one of us, though he had the ability to avoid a disgraceful, agonizing death by torture. It encourages us to be like-minded, code-talk for learning to compromise in order to live in harmony.
I’d check out this passage, because it paints a picture of the best of humanity if we learn to live for someone else instead of for ourselves.
What is love?
It’s giving them the last M&M in the package. Passing up the job promotion because you know it will endanger your family. Taking turns getting up with the crying baby in the middle of the night.
In my case, I know Lizard’s sacrificing for me because he carries lip balm in his pocket. He NEVER uses lip balm – thinks it’s too slimy – but he always has a tube on him because I will give him a questioning look and tap my finger on my lips.
Every time he provides that tube of lip balm, I know it’s his way of saying he’s willing to be inconvenienced because he loves me.
I don’t know anyone who has the marriage they expected to have on their wedding day. Life is too unpredictable.
Love is choosing each day to treat your partner with love and respect despite.
Despite the fact they’re not perfect. Despite the fact they don’t treat you perfectly. Despite the fact they don’t make as much money as they are worth. Despite them getting frustrated when you leave your socks in little balls in the corner of the bedroom. Despite whatever idiosyncrasies begin to drive you absolutely bat-crazy about six minutes after you say “I Do.”
Love is about commitment despite. Lust is a commitment until I feel bad.
Love is NOT a princess fairy tale. It covers a multitude of sins, fo’ sho’, but it is not always the stuff of butterflies and vacuuming your car before you pick them up for a date.
Seriously, I never knew I would be living in a household with kids who make me think we’re being held hostage by angry foreign exchange students with an incomplete grasp of the English language!
I could have never predicted one of our close friends would commit suicide. Never would have guessed we’d move 1,000 miles away from our families and friends.
Never would have known after seven years of marriage my husband would still leave the seat of the toilet up and I’d fall through.
So when you start thinking about whether you’re in love or just lusting after that special someone, consider: “Am I thinking of them constantly for their outward appearance or for the character they show?” “Do they have the maturity to look down life’s gun barrel and not wilt?” “Are we able to laugh together when things are going well – and when everything has gone wrong?”
These are some examples, but if you answer “yes” to these fundamentals… then start thinking about how awesome it will be to kiss them and smell their shampoo and hold hands and someday create your own spawn of foreign speaking terrorists.
And, if you haven’t found anyone worth sacrificing for… keep looking. Because relationships are NEVER 50/50, there’s always an imbalance like a seesaw. Sometimes it will be in your favor, sometimes it will be in their favor.
You want to be on the seesaw with someone who won’t buck you off and will lift and drop you gently. Lust, well, it’s a temporary fix – when they’re finished they’ll just hop off and let you crash.
What are your thoughts about the difference between love and lust?