As an adult, there are those days when I’d love to be a kid again… You know, when your biggest concern is which toy you’ll play with when you get home or if you’ll pass your spelling test… You are of course mostly focused on yourself and what you want, and your concerns seem like a big deal to you at the time, but generally speaking, as a kid, your perspective is so pure and innocent because you haven’t yet been jaded by the world.

Parents then have the responsibility to help kids put their worries or frustrations into the context of the bigger picture of life. It’s up to parents to help their kids see beyond themselves and develop a healthy understanding that life isn’t always about getting what we want.

Unfortunately though, even as a adults, we lose sight of this perspective or perhaps we just simply never developed it to begin with. As a result, some people find themselves struggling in relationships as adults because they have never shifted away from a child-like vantage point on life.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” In the context of love in this chapter, it can be assumed that true love cannot be experienced or expressed unless there’s a willingness to grow up. If you maintain a child-like attitude toward your interactions with others, then you can expect for your “love” to be nothing more than a circumstantial, emotional feeling that will fluctuate based on whether or not you get what you want. I think we could all agree this isn’t good for you or the people around you.

Valentine’s Day is next week, so I’ve been thinking a little more about love and how that gets expressed in my life and our culture. It would take a very long post, probably a book, just to even break the ice on this topic, so in the interest of keeping things short and to the point, I’ll just share these thoughts in reflection to the above verse…

To truly love someone means you quit acting like a child. You let go of minor distractions and disputes for the sake of the relationship. You stop thinking only of yourself and how you feel. You are able to realize that your decisions, regardless of how big or small, will impact someone else. The awareness you have toward life shifts from YOUR perspective to OUR reality.  You accept the fact that neither you or the people you love are perfect. Therefore, you know you will fail them and they will fail you, and because of everyone’s failures, you learn to forgive as you have conversations that are full of both grace and truth… Sometimes hard truth.

In the end though, you choose to love not so you might gain for yourself, but so that you can become the best selfless version of you as you help someone else to do the same. You don’t quit because you don’t get your way. Instead, you learn how to press on and pick your battles carefully. Ultimately, you understand that love doesn’t always feel great and won’t always look pretty, yet you know that nothing, absolutely nothing, can interrupt a genuine, selfless love that creates a bond between two people who would just not be the same without the other. Only then, as time progresses and love changes you both, will you experience a bond with someone that has the potential to leave a legacy and be an example that others long to follow!

I’m not fully here yet when it comes to loving in this way, but God is definitely using marriage, parenting, and other relationships to show me that I’m my unhealthiest when I revert back to being a baby and throwing a fit because I didn’t get my way. May God help us all to grow up, put away childish, prideful attitudes, love selflessly, and live as the men and women God desires for us to be!