One of the most confusing things the human mind can try and wrap its brain around. This word is used to describe my feelings towards some of my favorite things in life: friends, chocolate, red wine, family, and God (of course not all on the same level!) As a little girl, I always had this fairy tale idea of what "love" is; how Prince Charming comes and sweeps his lady fair onto a white horse and they happily ride off into the sunset like a TV Land commercial. But more seriously, how do you know you are truly in love with another? What does "real love" look like??? Is it all hearts and red roses, or is it something deeper?
Take a long, hard look at a crucifix, and THAT is what real love is. Real love is self-sacrificing, unselfish, pure, and radical. It challenges you to forgot yourself, and focus completely on the other. Jesus told his disciples, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend." In working with teens and even in my own life, I like to remember/use this analogy. If someone can truly show you real love (AKA "crucifix love") than this may very well be a good friendship or dating relationship to explore more. It is easy to say you love somebody...but it is not so easy to constantly strive to love another with crucifix love. Perhaps that's why marriage is set apart as a sacrament, because it is such a radical call to unselfish love that it requires everything inside of you. Real love can be hard sometimes, especially if it challenges you to let go of another or dreams/hopes with someone...though painful, even confusing at times, it is always life giving.
"Crucifix love"is totally different from lust. I think every person if they were really honest with themselves has at some point struggled with this sin. Lust is when you have disordered feelings and emotions for another person; it seeks to satisfy one's own desires without thinking of the other person...in the mind it turns the other person into an object to manipulated. Lust more or less says,"What can I get from him/her? How can he/she satisfy my desires and wants?" It hurts friendships, dating relationships, and twists our understanding of the gift of sexuality. More often than our media bombards us with unhealthy ideas and concepts of sexuality; which hurts both men and women. At times, we forget what real love looks like; but if we do forget, all you have to do is look at a crucifix. Jesus hanging on that piece of wood is the most tangible example of what real love is.
I don't claim to know it all or be a very holy person. I strive to follow Jesus and love others with a crucifix love. I am not terribly wise in dating matters, but I truly believe that fulfilling and happy relationships between men and women must be based upon crucifix love; whether good friendships or holy marriages.
Right now as a single woman, I am constantly striving to love all people with "crucifix love" so that when I am married someday, I can truly love my husband with REAL LOVE.