Love is not ownership. The moment that we try to control other people with our love, we lose.
I always reference God as our greatest example of love. He is love to me. But he never tries to manipulate us with it. He gives it to us freely and repeatedly even in the moments when we are failing to be lovable. The freedom in that provides us with a deep love of God that can’t even be fathomed. The fact that he loves us in spite of ourselves. We need to understand the importance of loving one another without the need to control and without judgment.
CLICK TO TWEET /// We need to understand the importance of loving one another without the need to control and without judgment.
I feel like my personal growth theme for 2017 is finding freedom. I am a person who literally wants to control everything, but thankfully in my thirty years on this Earth I have learned something. YOU CAN’T! Seems like common sense right? Yet we worry, yet we’re anxious, yet we try to enforce our will on our experiences and the people that we love all the time.
We do not get to control people because we love them. We shouldn’t hold our love for ransom when they fall short. And we can’t let our love be the reason that we can’t accept them for who they are.
When I think of my own journey and life, I think of my family. I think of how much I love them and want the best for them. But how many of us know that you can’t want more for other people than they want for themselves? And so my judgment often manifests in this way. It took me a minute to realize how judgmental I can be. It’s not always the upfront thing. I’m not just sitting around talking about strangers or judging their decisions. But where my judgment comes in, is in love. When I love someone, I want them to be the best version of who I think they should be or could be. But do you see the problem with that? It’s not up to me. That’s up to them and God.
How then can we begin to take ourselves out of the equation without driving ourselves whacky? It makes me think of the story of the prodigal son. There were two sons whose father was well off and one of the sons decided that he didn’t want to live under his father’s kingdom and protection anymore. He went to “do him” for lack of a better term like most of us do at some point in our lives. It of course led to a road of destruction ultimately landing him in the pig’s pin, but you know what happened when he returned? His father welcomed him with open arms. And the brother that stayed was hating, much like some of our friends and families do when we forgive people, but it wasn’t about him. We are all worthy of redemption and restoration no matter what people say.
Most of us in the father’s position would be like “uh uhh, no sir! You wanted to live your life and blah, blah, blah.” But do you know that is exactly what God does for us? No matter how far, no matter how low, he waits for us with an everlasting love hoping that one day we will return to him. That type of love takes strength. That type of love takes putting ourselves aside and truly knowing what agape love means. Where loving another is the return, not whatever we can get from the situation.
And of course this doesn’t mean abusing yourself in a situation. OF course not. But I know yall get me here. It can also mean loving someone enough to let them go. But that’s a whole other point for another day.
When we cannot love others freely, I promise you it is a burden on the relationship, but also on us as well. It’s a weight that we don’t have to carry but we choose to. What I have found is that a person is more likely to come around when you give them the flexibility to become who they need to be without your thoughts and your input and your sass.
So, what does it look like when we treat love like ownership? Not being kind or gentle when something doesn’t go our way. Keeping a short leash on our partners’ ability to be an individual. Manipulating a situation to get what we want. Using our children against our partners to get them to acquiesce. Ownership and control and manipulation manifests in so many ways in our daily interactions with those that we say we love and it corrupts it. That is not love, not matter how hard you try to convince yourself that it is.
It’s okay to advise. It’s okay to give input. It’s okay to be an ear and give guidance. But the decisions of others are just that, their decisions. We owe them nothing but to love them. And honestly, they are loving you in spite of you too. So whether it’s the uncle that drinks too much, your partner that is working to clean up their act, your aunt that is negative, your friend that can’t pull herself out of the rut, LOVE THEM. Sometimes from afar. Sometimes close up. But do it because that’s what you were created to do. Not because they need to earn it because what have you done to earn God’s love?
I don’t know about you, but I am so unworthy. So, in this new year, I am working diligently to love those in my life for who they are, without control, without manipulation, without judgment because that’s how I also want to be loved as I stumble my way through becoming and continuing to bloom.
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