Why Do We Love Those Who Don’t Love Us Back?

And so begins my February series of tough LOVE questions. February–an appropriate month for love questions, don’t you think? This series was inspired by a friend and coworker who initially suggested I pose this question for the blog: “If your house was burning, and you could only save one family member, who would it be?” I responded with “That’s impossible to answer.” So we boiled down to the nature of the question and realized what she was really asking was why would I, without a moment’s pause, reach for the hand of a beloved to save them from a burning building when they repeatedly don’t reply to my text messages, never initiate hang-outs and consistently miss important events in my life?

Because we love them. Even though they don’t show the signs of loving us back.

Family illustrates beautifully this inhuman ability we have to love siblings, children, and even parents who may never return the affection. Something within us persists. Pushes through the turned shoulders and blocked calls and can not–though we may try–stop loving. How would a non-Christian explain this strange strength that counters every fiber of our being? For the most common type of love is reciprocated, right?

Not always. Maybe you, like me, have loved someone you had no business loving at all. You tried to stop, but the love was inside of you and no action of your own would remove it. I remember confessing to my parents once that I was still in love with someone I knew for a fact did not love me back. My dad told me something I’ll never forget. Something that made me feel normal and that everything would be ok: “You can’t help who you love.” We don’t actually choose–what a load off.

So, I don’t believe we’re crazy for loving a rebellious older brother who’s never around, the dad that’s in and out of your life, or the boy that broke your heart. We can’t help who we love. God loves lots of people who don’t love Him back. When we do the same, we’re being a little like Him. We’re loving not based on condition but because the love is there, and we can’t get it out.

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2 thoughts on “Why Do We Love Those Who Don’t Love Us Back?

  1. This blog touched my heart. I have given love and not received it in return. I wanted to stop loving but it was hard. The only thing that helped stop it was distance and time. There is one I will probably love forever, but I don’t have to actively participate in the love. I can know that it is there and not good for me and keep moving on with my life. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who has dealt with this. 🙂

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