When I was growing up – back in the day (I’m old, so I can say that now) – I was a big fan of REO Speedwagon, especially their early albums… umm… CD’s. These lyrics are from the first verse and chorus of one of their later songs called “That Ain’t Love”:
[Verse] You tell me what you think I’m feelin’, you know why I do what I do
Why should you listen to a word I’m sayin’, when it’s already so clear to you
You tell me ’bout my bad intentions, you doubt the very things I hold true
I can no longer live with your misconceptions, baby all I can say to you, is
[Chorus:] That ain’t love, I believe you’ve got the wrong emotion
That ain’t love, at least it doesn’t feel like love to me
As long as I say what you wanna hear
Do what you wanna do, be who you want me to be
You think that’s love, well baby that ain’t love to me
While I think that Speedwagon and I have very different understandings of love, there is much truth in this song. The “lover” referred to in this song tries to manipulate the person singing by telling him what to think and what to do. The “lover” does not have to listen to the singer, because she already knows everything. In truth, the “lover” has “misconceptions” about love.
The singer is absolutely correct. Manipulative love is not love at all. Manipulative love – that is, “love” that would manipulate the other person – is truly only “self love”. So, the “lover” – the one being sung to and about – is not demonstrating true love.
But, in reality, the singer is not demonstrating true love either. How do we know? Because the singer is ready to give up on his “lover” because she is not demonstrating true love. Love does not love because it is loved. Instead, true love demonstrates love even when that love is not returned and even when that love is not recognized. Love is not interested in the self, but in the other. Love is not about getting, but about giving.
Of course, none of us can perfectly demonstrate this kind of love. When we attempt to love unconditionally, we will fail. The question is, when we recognize that we are not demonstrating unconditional love, are we willing to admit it and seek forgiveness, or do we simply give up and chalk it up to human imperfections. I think one of those responses demonstrates a trust in God and a reliance on his grace, while the other response demonstrates a trust and reliance on ourselves.
Remember… love is from God.