Rick Burwick, lead pastor, 360 Church, 3200 Clinton Parkway:
Curious about how many books have been written about love, I consulted Wiki.com to discover about 50,000 books are published each year about love and that about 130 million books exist around the world. Yet all this information available about love, in book form or on the web, doesn’t affect the 50 to 60 percent of people once committed to a relationship with great expectations who end up divorced or separated.
Could it be that what we expect of people to be and do in relationships isn’t the way of love? Whatever expectations we have about what they, or we, are to be or do in that relationship may be terrific ideologically. In reality, however, our expectations reveal whether love is conditional or unconditional.
Growing up, one parent loved us siblings conditionally. Fortunately, we weren’t motivated by fear, but we were motivated by approval or nonapproval. If we wronged in any way, negative statements were made, and rewards for accomplishments earned were taken away. The other parent exercised love, acceptance and forgiveness, which demonstrated to us the meaning of “unconditional love.” Expectations were there, but love was not dependent on outcome, instead reliant upon our wanting to be our best and do our best. Our reward was, no matter what, we were loved. Even when we failed or wrongfully behaved, we knew even the discipline was because we were loved, and our error was not thinking about others or the consequences before the wrong.
The way love is demonstrated through acceptance and forgiveness is found in my favorite scripture text, 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. The Message translation at BibleGateway.com puts my favorite line this way: “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.”
Love that never gives up learns to know the inner heart and feelings of the person we love, and because we love unconditionally, love grows deeper, healthier — and lasts.
— Send email to Rick Burwick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, Chabad Jewish Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:
“Like a face reflected by water, so, too, hearts reflect each other.” (Proverbs 27:19)
How do we know when we’ve met the right person? People tend to think that the main thing is that you are in love, and everything else will fall into place. Should we believe that?
Perhaps we can learn a lesson about true love from the making of a model airplane.
A common mistake when building a model airplane is to start by putting glue all over the parts. But that just creates a mess. The wrong bits get stuck together; wings get stuck to the floor, windows stuck on your fingers.
The correct way to build a model airplane is to first organize the parts. Make sure the pieces fit together and nothing is missing. Then gradually apply the glue, and join the various parts, piece by piece, until it starts to take shape.
The parts may not fit perfectly at first. You may have to shave off some rough edges, or bend some parts into shape before they click. However, with a bit of work it all fits together.
But if you find that there are parts missing, or they don’t fit, then you don’t have what it takes to make an airplane. You can’t use glue to join mismatched pieces, and certainly not to replace missing parts. Don’t even try; take it back and get a carton that has the right parts.
Your relationship is a model airplane. You and your partner are the pieces, and love is the glue that sticks you together. Without the binding power of love, two individuals could never become one. But that power, like glue, is indiscriminate. It must be applied carefully, because it could stick just about anything together; you may actually end up loving someone who may not be for you.
The secret to true love is to ensure that your hearts truly reflect each other, and then you can be sure that it is a match made in heaven.
— Send email to Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel at rabbi@JewishKU.com.