Dear Baby Sister,
Do you know I write a lot of this for you? Sure, I address it to all women in so if somebody needs a real-world talking-to, she can find it here. I hate seeing anyone make the same mistakes I’ve made, especially in matters of the heart. But I care most about you, because watching you trample your heart is slowly killing mine. And I know that you’re going to be mad that I address you specifically here, but I read your blog today, and it’s time for a reality check.
Let’s talk about love, Baby Sister. Let’s talk about what love is, and what love isn’t. I tried talking to you about this in March, when I told you about how a friend and I got into a mild debate about whether or not love was a feeling. In both the debate and my conversation with you, I expressed that love was not a feeling, although feelings often accompany love. You asked me what I knew about it, since I’d never been in an “official”, dad-approved relationship.
Although I was too hurt to respond then, I’ll tell you now. I know about love, because as you stated in your post, love is a choice. I know about love because even without the “official”, dad-approved relationship, I am loved deeply. First John 3:16 says, “This is how we know love: Christ laid down His life for us. And we also should lay down our lives for the brethren.” True love is a setting aside of ourselves for the true benefit of another, following the example of Christ. So while my relationship resume is virtually nonexistent, I have experienced Christ’s love and Christ-like love, and I can spot a counterfeit.
Although you will doubtless experience feelings for those you love, my dear Baby Sister, love is NOT a mere feeling. It is so much higher and holier than a feeling. In talking about love only in terms of the feelings, you exchange love for something cheap and far less superior. And you don’t even know you’ve done it, because those feelings make you feel so good, don’t they? I know I like that feeling, when I’m just getting to know a guy, and anything can happen. (Heck, we could even get married). Every little thing he does is just so sweet, so considerate, so Christ-like. I’ll even go a little crazy, wearing make-up and dressing up a little bit every time I see him. I like the nervous butterflies in my stomach when I’m around him. It’s all just so exciting. And sometimes even I think silly things like, “I might be falling for him.” But sooner or later, I come down from that feelings-induced high when I realize he’s a player and he’s just using me, he doesn’t even like me, he’s kind of a jerk, we don’t value the same things, we’re going different directions, or he’s just too short. And I usually realize that I didn’t really even like the guy, let alone love him.
Another thing, Baby Sister. Love is not being willing to do anything the other person asks you to do, even if they tell you that’s what love is to them. Even when you truly love people, you are not their doormat. Yes, love requires sacrifice, but more often than not, that sacrifice involves surrendering them to God’s will and what is God’s best for them, rather than insisting on your way for them or your way with them. It doesn’t involve flying to the moon and collecting moon dust for them.
So your two great loves, Baby Sister? Based on how you described them, you didn’t love them. Not really. You loved how they made you feel and you thought you should express that love by doing whatever they asked. And if you really believe that’s love, I’m sorry, but you’ve been robbed of the Real Deal and left with a fake in its place.
You said, “One of the cruelest things a person can do is to awaken someone’s love without the intention of truly loving them.” (Which is a paraphrase/misquote of a Bob Marley quote: “The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.”) In Song of Songs, the Shulamite woman admonishes other women “not to awaken love until the time is right.” Solomon was a wise man; in Proverbs 4:23, he says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” YOU are responsible for diligently keeping your heart in regard to these matters. I’m not saying guys can’t and don’t lead girls on, because sometimes they do, but you were not lead on in either of these instances. You awoke your own heart, your own love, without any consideration of whether the time was right or not. I know your heart hurts, Baby Sister, and I am sorry about that. I know when it hurts its easiest to blame someone else. But I also know that GREAT healing comes when we take responsibility for our own actions.
I want to tell you about one of my greatest loves.
She came into my life when I was five years old. Growing up, we shared a bedroom, and she was always taking my stuff and making messes that I had to clean up. She would also occasionally pummel me, but I could never tell on her because that was tattling, and I could never pummel her back because that would have been wrong. (And also I was nowhere near as strong). But she was so sensitive, she would get really emotional if somebody pretend died, or if our older sister threatened to suck my brains out through my nose with a vacuum cleaner. As we got older, we got our own bedrooms (which did wonders for our relationship), and she would come to my room and talk and I would go to her room and talk. She always knew when and if I liked a guy (even though she blabbed one time), and typically, I knew who she liked. There was this one time when I had just had my wisdom teeth out and I was out from all the painkillers. I woke up and she was giving me a manicure and reading me this random story she was writing. We went through all of life’s ups and downs together.
Then, what felt like out of nowhere, there was distance. Backhanded remarks. Lashing out. She started saying mean things to other people about me. Things that made me insecure and sad. I tried to spend time with her, but I was constantly being accused of minding her business. And one day, she broke my heart all together, I think probably more than anyone else ever had.
But you know something? I still love her. I’m sitting here, bawling because of her, but I still love her. Why? It’s not because she makes me feel good about myself. It’s not because she’s this wonderful person who has her life together. It’s not because she’s easy to love. It’s not even because she’s my sister. I don’t know if there even is a because. I just love her.
Would I do anything for her? Absolutely not. I try to maintain a relationship with her, to give of my time and energy, but I don’t do everything she wants. Sometimes, in recent months, my love for her has meant sitting back and letting God pursue her, rather than trying to intervene myself. It means watching her do things I would never desire for her, knowing that God can redeem them.
I know, Baby Sister, that God loves you so much more fully than I ever can. It is my greatest prayer, the one I breathe every instant, that you will wake up one morning and realize how deeply loved you are and that will inspire you to deeply (and truly) love others.
I love you!
Your Next Oldest Sister