Unselfish Love: Redundant term
Once upon a time, I told a friend I was too selfish to get married. I didn’t remember saying this, but she reminded me of it on her wedding day, to the surprise of everyone else in the limo. I was thinking about that this morning. It’s probably still true.
I have a student in my teen Sunday school class who likes to ask me questions like, “Do you want to get married?” or “Do you want a boyfriend?” or “Do you want to have kids?”
A long time ago, I had a young girl ask me how much I weighed and I didn’t want to answer, because the answer is, “More than I should.” But, as I thought about her question and why she’d ask me, I looked at her and her family and wondered what she was really asking me. She had two sisters, one younger and one older, who were both tall and very thin. She was tall, too, for her age, but not thin. She wasn’t fat, she was just thicker than the twigs she was bundled with. What did she really want to know? I can’t help but think that she was asking about herself when she was asking me that question. And I wonder if I could have helped her by being truthful, if it would have reinforced for her that she was good, that she’d be fine (and she is, she’ a beautiful young woman). Now when girls ask me questions, I try to be as truthful as I can because I may not know what they’re really asking.
So, when this girl asks me about my hopes for the future, I answer her curiosity as best as I can. This is complicated by the fact that I don’t know what I want. Do I want a boyfriend? Well, that depends. I don’t want a man in my life just to have someone there, no. I’m content with my life, which makes it even harder to want to change it. And that’s where the selfishness comes into play.
A relationship takes compromise. You have to consider the other person in your decision-making. As a single person, I can do as I want. As someone who has been single for a while, that’s nice. I remember thinking when I was on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic that my former boyfriend wouldn’t have wanted to go and probably would have discouraged me from going (Yes, that’s part of why he’s “former”). Being single, I don’t have to worry about what someone else is doing or thinking or feeling.
Because, when I am in a relationship, I do worry about the other person. I want to know what he’s interested in and what he’s thinking or feeling. I try to be encouraging and supportive. If there’s something he wants and I can help him get it, I will. To me, love is caring about another person’s needs, wanting the best for that person. I’ve learned that the “best” isn’t always what he wants, however. Sometimes it means letting him struggle or fail and not interrupting the learning process.
When I think about love, I don’t think I’m thinking about the same thing a teenage girl is thinking. And this is part of the selfishness, as well, because I want the kind of love that is hard, the kind that gives more than it asks for. And if that’s not selfish, I don’t know what is. But, you see, the example I have is kind of hard to live up to. Jesus is the model for the kind of man I would want in a relationship. The trick is that I’m supposed to be that kind of person, as well.
Do I want a boyfriend? If there’s a guy out there trying to live up to the example Christ offers us, then I’d be willing to get to know him. Maybe, with a little grace and patience, I’d even be interested in getting married. By some miracle, I might even have a kid or two (or adopt a passel).
Does that answer her questions? For this week, maybe.