I recently heard this quote, “We all come into the world looking for someone who is looking for us.”
That utterly resonated with me. YES, I thought. My entire life has been one big long looking for that person looking for me.
But then I read something that did more than just nudge my heart. In Lifelong Marriage: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage, author Gary Thomas shared this concept, and I’m paraphrasing:
We believe our number one need as human beings is to be loved, because it is.
God, in his word and through his Son, tells us and shows us time and again that he loves us – completely, perfectly, intimately, no matter what, forever and ever.
So, technically, our number one need as human beings is met already. We come into the world loved.
And therefore, we can stop looking for someone to love us. (And, sidenote: we can stop performing and striving.) Because we already are loved.
Which means, our actual number one need as human beings is to learn how to love God and others, as that is what we are told time and again in Scripture to spend our lives doing – love God, love others, love, love, love.
(Thank you, thank you, Mr. Thomas.)
Do we understand what this means? (Because if we were to understand this, it would change everything. It might change who you choose to marry if you’re not yet married and it would hopefully change your perspective on your marriage if you already are.)
It means that marriage is not about finding someone to love you for the rest of your life. We’ve gotten it so wrong. (I’ve gotten it so wrong.) We’re not told in Scripture to get loved, find someone to love you, get affirmed for who you are. We are told to love, love, love.
(Sidenote: yes, “falling in love” is great and wonderful and all that. But every person who ever has “fallen in love” in the history of the world will tell you – if they’re honest – that the feelings fade and that you are then faced with the daily choice to stay with the person you committed to and to love the person you said you would love.)
Marriage is really about availing ourselves to the process of learning how to love someone else for the rest of your life.
If you are single or dating, let this view change what you’re looking for. You do not have to beg for affection or affirmation or attention. You are already adored and validated and seen. Instead, ask yourself: whose life could I make better, easier, richer by my presence, my prayer, my service, my kindness, my words?
If you are already married, let this view change how you see your spouse. This isn’t about what he hasn’t done for you or what he has done to you (though, if you are being physically, emotionally, relationally, sexually or spiritually hurt on a regular basis, I urge you to get real help). But it’s not about keeping track of the wrong done and the good withheld. Instead, ask yourself: what can I do today for my partner to make his life better, easier, richer by my presence, my prayer, my service, my kindness, my words?
It’s not about being loved, because you already are! It’s about loving.
God, help us understand to our core that you love us already, all the way through, no matter what, for the rest of our lives and into eternity. Help us receive and accept that love. Let that love shape our choices and our actions and words to others. Teach us to love you and others out of the love you have lavished on us. Help us love in humility, gentleness and unselfishness. Help us love in wisdom and truth. Protect our hearts but help us to live a life of love. Amen.
If you’d like help in learning to love in wholeness and truth, I have resources for those of you who are dating, in difficult marriages, or remarriages. Dating after Divorce, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, and Second Time Around can all be found here.