Are people capable of love?

In the show How I Met Your Mother the main character Ted Mosby is diagnosed by his friends as an “I Love You” whore. After meeting his future long time friend as well as a several time ex-girlfriend, within hours after meeting her and taking her out on a date he met her in her apartment and told her that he loved her. Is it possible to love someone this fast? Is it even possible to love another human being at all?

The very act of love is giving someone something of yourself. If I were to truly love someone, it would have to begin with me gazing in their eyes and not looking for them, but, for me to truly look for myself. Because, if I am giving myself away them I am actually looking to recapture my own lost identity, not in myself, but in the other. The problem is when I can’t look in the mirror and love myself, because if I cannot begin to look at myself in the mirror and love what I see, how can I even begin to love how I see me in others?

When I look in the mirror how can I love myself? The deepest consequences of sin began a life of shame for me. And, if my failures are not enough, the media, our friends and families, our school systems, our churches lie to us about who we really are. Christianity has somehow built into itself and drives into others more shame. People along the way shame us. I do things and think things to shame myself. And, that shame causes me to believe that I am not lovable. So how can I love someone if I cannot love myself? How can I let anyone love me if what I am is not lovable?

We do not have to change for God to love us, God loves us so we can change. In all of our self-doubt, self-guilt, self-hatred, it is God who loves us and restores us. God walks us through the darkness of ourselves to take us to the true light, our true identity. The one that is unchangeable, the one that is eternally lovable, the one that is made in the image of God. So when I begin to love and value my own self, is not actually me, it is God in me. And, when I can love God in me, I can love God in others. I can love them for who they actually are.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in Philippians when the author describes God’s work on the Cross as “Self-emptying” or as making himself nothing. When we love others as Christ loved others, we dare risk making ourselves nothing. We pick up our crosses, we pick up our crosses in the name of love. We empty of ourselves. And, this is the fear of love. Love costs us so much. To make ourselves nothing, often reveals to ourselves our very nothingness. If we cannot hold on to, as Christ did, that true identity, then my love will always look like me (which never carries crosses). But, if I can hold onto that bigger identity, than I am willing to empty myself. Beginning with my own shame, my own pain, my own thoughts and feelings. Then by sharing in the crosses of others. The glorification of love is not found in the lustful, all-or-nothing passions and emotions that love has been depicted as, (although there is passion and emotion and can have lust), but in the day-to-day kindly working out our own messiness and sharing in the comedic, fun-filled, and tender glory of others. Love often shares companionship with people who hurt us the most because we experience their own faults and more deeply, just as we hurt those because they experience our own faults more deeply.

Be filled with love and the glory of love, trusting in it will be the only thing to heal our wounds and loneliness. It will be the only thing that makes picking up our crosses worth enduring.


6 thoughts on “Are people capable of love?

  1. Matt says:

    Love this part of the post: “When we love others as Christ loved others, we dare risk making ourselves nothing.”

    Really good stuff Mike.

  2. Very nice!!! I love this! Thank you for sharing =)

  3. Phil Wood says:

    Mike, as always I appreciate your honesty. I can see you’re too hard on yourself because I keep on doing the same thing to myself. The worst time in my life (when no-one behaved well – including me) led to the breakdown of my marriage and the loss of a great deal else besides. Sorry for being cryptic, but the legal complications of what happened still prevent me from being more direct. The nearest I ever got to talking about what happened was in the form of a very strange ‘fairytale’. It’s certainly the oddest thing I have tucked away on my blog. There’s a lot in the tale but both real life and the fairytale involved a friends’ betrayal:

    Even after what happened I still miss his friendship, even though we haven’t spoken in years. All kinds of love turned very sour during that time and I still sometimes feel the pain of it.

    • Mike Friesen says:

      Thanks Phil,
      I used to be much worse. I have had to learn to trust in myself. When I love myself I know that I am not worthless and not everything is my fault. But, being honest and loving has allowed me to receive my failure in a much more healthy way. I get how you can’t be more direct, and, that shows love to because you’re practicing boundaries.

  4. Jason Garver says:

    Mike i want to make a few points, because i think i may have an interesting view on what you talked about.

    First addressing relationships with others, even god i want to point out the different types of love we encounter. (get ready for some kickass bible memory) Years ago in youth group Corey told us about the different types of love expressed in the bible, which i remember quite clearly. As you mentioned with the movie example Eros. love at first sight, that uneasy feeling you get when you meet someone new. Is this a valid form of loving another person?
    a deeper question could be is Eros a lesser form of love, or a weaker output for our feelings?

    Then you look at Philia (phileo) and think that yea, that’s a good thing to do. Love your friends, love your family, love your neighbor. This love requires more faith than the previous, because you are in fact just trusting in the goodness of others.

    Finally i get to Agapao. If i remember correctly Agapao is the love god feels for his son. both in Luke and John god shows his love for his son with the willingness to sacrifice. (john 3:16ish?)

    tying all these together to what you said, are we even capable to love other humans in such a way as we are loved by god? Loves takes trust, faith, understanding and selflessness. I’m not sure that (im sorry to any married people reading this) two people in marriage have a pure love. I only say this because giving and receiving is a large basis for marriage, along with completion of the others shortcomings.
    whether you realize that you expect something in return in some way from every relationship in your life or not, it’s there. the expectation of mutual respect, forgiveness, attention, faithfulness, these are things we expect in someone we love, or loves us. But is that really the meaning of love?

    That being said i am absolutely not against marriage, and i do believe many of us are in love. but love shouldn’t need a reason, it’s love. And mike i disagree with what you said about looking inward in another to find yourself. Something it seems that we aren’t capable of is total selflessness. Love can’t be about yourself, it can’t be about your needs because if you take Christ as an example we would be doing it completely wrong. We have so much faith in him, but i think alot of people forget that he had alot of faith in us, he loves us with a type of love not fathomable by humans today.

    I believe, that love is something that is within all of us, and it’s not as much as giving a near tangible thing to a woman or man as it is extending our love into others, so that theirs may break out. I don’t love who I’m dating, i love the faith i have in the people of the world. Pouring all of my love into just a few people seems like the wrong idea. but loving the world, having faith in the world however utopian it sounds is much more like it to me.

    here’s my ending lyrics for my rambling

    We live for what He’s worth,
    And that’s more than you’ll know.
    He died for what He loved,
    And what He loved was you.

    • Jason Garver says:

      Oh and i am aware that you’re going to pick me apart mike, especially when i say not to look inward for love. I’m ready to take it

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