What are you looking for? Many of the people we encounter are looking for more out of life. They are looking for meaning—for a purpose for existence. They want to sense that their life has value. They want to be connected to others and work together to make the world a better place.
In short, they want to love and to be loved. Both of us have met hundreds of people who have shared their struggles in life with us. Most have a history of broken relationships. Beneath all of these struggles is the cry for love. Those who study the human psyche agree that one of our deepest emotional needs is the need to feel loved, to feel that someone values me as a person even when I don’t meet all of their expectations.
Looked at the news lately? When we see the state of our world, we may ask: If emotional love is so important, why do millions around the world fight instead of love? Where does this start?
For one thing, we’re all pretty self-involved. Psychologists call it being “egocentric.” Which isn’t the same as being “egotistical,” exactly. It’s the idea that my world revolves around me. There is a positive aspect to this natural tendency: it means I eat, sleep, exercise—I take care of me. However, this egocentric tendency often leads to selfishness, and I come to approach all of life with the attitude “What’s in this for me?” This attitude affects all of our behavior. Two selfish people cannot have a healthy relationship.
Love is the opposite of selfishness. Love thinks, “How can I enhance the lives of those I encounter?” True love is not just a feeling—it is an attitude with appropriate behavior. However, true love stimulates the emotions. Thus, when you choose to speak my “love language,” I feel loved by you.
“Until our deep need for love is met, we are not likely to become lovers ourselves.”
In addition to this focus on self, many people also suffer the fallout caused by a world gone wrong, from gut-wrenching trauma and life experiences beyond our control and doing. Our makeup is a mix of our own “self-focused” bent and the conditioning from our experiences. Together, there really isn’t a person among us that isn’t in need of the deep, restorative power of love.
So where do we turn? Some gain a measure of success through “positive thinking.” Believe it, and it will happen! Positive thinking challenges us to focus on the positive aspects of our world rather than the negative, to focus on our opportunities rather than our failures, to make lemonade out of lemons, to look for the light rather than cursing the darkness. Thousands of books have been written on the power of positive thinking.
Keeping a positive attitude can help us in many ways. However, most of us will need more than the challenge to “think positively” if we are going to live lives of love. It is difficult to think positively when the negative is in your face daily or you don’t feel very good about yourself. Still, we search.
Many have turned to the realm of the spiritual in search of such love. We believe they are looking in the right direction. In my (Gary’s) studies of anthropology, I have explored world religions, including those of nonliterate cultures. First, I am astounded that in all human cultures there is a belief in a “spiritual” world. It seems that fundamental to human nature is the sense that there is more to the world than what is seen by the eye.
While my studies in world religions have not made me an expert on spiritual matters, I have deeply explored and experienced the life-changing power of the Christian faith. I am not talking about Christianity as a religious system. I’m talking about personally and genuinely responding to the God whose very nature is love. I have found that love to be overwhelmingly satisfying. It is as though God’s love is poured out into our hearts and meets our deep longing to be loved. His love stimulates our love—because we are loved, we are now able to genuinely love others.
Why then are so many religious people rude, harsh, and condemning of others? Where is Christian love? While just over 70 percent of the US population identifies as Christian, many of them are merely cultural Christians. They call themselves Christian because they grew up in a largely Christian culture. More importantly, many have not yet personally and deeply responded to the love of God. They are, in fact, still searching for love. As are so many of us, whatever our spiritual beliefs. And until our deep need for love is met, we are not likely to become lovers ourselves.
Let’s talk about you.
You may know in a general way that you’re loved—by family, friends, maybe even by God—but you may not feel it. If you are like many people, you feel alone a lot of the time. However, the reality is, you are NOT alone in feeling alone. Millions of people struggle with these feelings and these questions. Why is this? Our experienced reality is an indicator of something deep within us that is pulling us . . . pulling us to who we were meant to be and into a relationship of love that we were made for, a relationship with God.
You may have heard somewhere about the five love languages. Maybe you have a friend who says their marriage was helped by using these languages with their spouse. But you can go even deeper with these.
How does this work? What can we learn about God through the five love languages? How can we connect with His love—so we actually feel it? The book linked below, Seen. Known. Loved., is our attempt to help you connect with God’s perfect love.
by Gary Chapman and R. York Moore
In a world of varying beliefs and endless opportunities, determining how to spend our lives can seem impossible. And even more difficult than...
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