Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Real Love

Man, did I ever go through some crazy times with Rachel. We used to fight and fight and fight. At times we would break up and get back together, usually in the same day. We were often in some kind of turmoil, but we just couldn’t end it. Even when times were awful, the pull to stay together was so strong. The glue that bound us would not give, even when we were miserable and both knew we probably needed to break up.

Maybe it was because the good times were so good. It was fantastic when we weren't fighting. When we were good, I was flying high. Elated. Our relationship was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, such an incredibly intense bond. I was completely known and understood by her. My heart felt closer to her than anyone else before her--a soul connection. I was sick in my gut when we fought, and we fought often, but making up was incredible.

From the start of our relationship, Rachel was my everything. She was my core, she was my world. Whatever made her upset made me upset. Devastated. Unable to think of anything or anyone else, I depended on her for how I felt. My whole day would be made or broken based on her. We were so close...too close for me to have my own feelings apart from her. I was so wrapped up in her, I didn’t have myself anymore.

But the rush was addictive. It was intense and passionate. Whether we were fighting or making up, we were at level 10. The constant roller coaster ride became the norm. We functioned in cycles, being on top of the world one minute and going down to the bottom of the pit the next. We were addicted to each other, addicted to the moment, to the whirlwind of emotion.

We were jealous--very much so--which made no sense because we were in contact almost constantly. If we weren’t physically together, we were texting or talking lovey dovey stuff on the phone. Or we were talking or texting mean stuff on the phone, sometimes deliberately ignoring, fighting, screaming, whatever. We were highly possessive of each other, so possessive that I didn’t want her to do anything without me. When I wasn’t with her, it sucked. I missed her so much even if we weren’t in contact for only a short while. I needed her way too much. When I sensed we might split up, I freaked. She was my everything, how could I lose her? When we fought, even the thought of losing her would hang over me like a dark fog. We fought so often that I lived in that fog.

What it felt like was passion, what it felt like was a connection, but what it was was obsession. What it was was codependency. What it was was deceitful…was it really love?

As I reflect on all this, thinking about my years of being in the gay lifestyle, I realize that what happened with Rachel and I is not uncommon. All of my same sex relationships, along with most of the ones I've ever personally seen or heard about, have been roller coaster rides. They have been jealous, possessive, unhealthily close, prone to fits of anger, sometimes even verbally or physically abusive.

And they contradict what an ultimate source of wisdom says about love:

Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

If love is truly love, then it is not dysfunctional or codependent. It is patient and kind. It is not possessive or jealous. Just the opposite, it always trusts. It is not rude, selfish, or grudge-holding, nor does it delight in evil.

I remember my hurt as I was making my way out of the lesbian lifestyle, as I was realizing things. It took a long time for me to swallow what He revealed about the nature of my relationship with Rachel. How could I question whether or not it was love? How difficult is it to even consider that a relationship of almost 3 years, one in which I had invested so much, could not be love? To think "it wasn’t really love" pissed me off and felt like a slap in the face.

It sure felt like love. My whole heart was attached to it, I know that. It’s funny how hearts work, though, they deceive us sometimes. They may lead us away from truth. As I started to look at our relationship honestly, I had to evaluate: Was it love, or was it more like obsession? It is easy to mistake passion and obsession for love. I began looking at the real truth rather than my emotions. It wasn't easy.

It helped me to acknowledge, though, that the concept of "real love" applies to straight couples, too. Heterosexual relationships that are a mess--they are not really genuine love, either. Those couples can be just as dysfunctional and codependent, showing the exact same characteristics of unhealthiness.

Ok, one might say: What about the same sex couples who are genuinely happy and don’t have the dysfunction? What if they don't have the typical characteristics, and they have been together for a zillion years? Aren't those relationships an example of "real love?" They would be, except that "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth." Sin is evil in God's sight, so sexual sin is evil, gay or straight. A love that delights in sexual sin, or evil, is not really love in His eyes, since love does not delight in evil.

There is only one who loves perfectly, who expresses it perfectly, and whose love has no sin attached. It begs the question: Well, is anyone capable of “real love,” then? Not like Him, but I think we are capable of "real love," and I think it has to do with our intent. We are capable of “real love” and show it when we try to love like Him, and love within His moral law. When we attempt to love like He does and keep sin out, then it’s truly love. It may not be perfect, but it's not delighting in evil. Instead, it's protecting, hoping, perservering, and rejoicing with truth.