“All You Need Is Love” is the mantra that’s echoed down decades of history, immortalized as a hit in 1967 but the sentiment tops the charts every year. Along with it, the nagging feeling that despite desperate attempts to find it and possess it, love eludes millions of longing hearts – year after year, century after century.
Sometimes we’ve searched for love and lost it. Loss is the common thread that binds a globe of varied experience together – try to find someone who hasn’t known the pain of losing someone they love. Loss is the inevitability we all face together but commiseration can’t stitch what’s shattered.
In seasons of loss, the knowledge that others have “been there before” is merely a band aid that provides cosmetic correction but doesn’t solve the stinging. All earthly solutions are fleeting and fading because in the wake of loss, we are most desperate for a love that binds our wounds and blankets us. The only solution to the bruising ache of loss is a Love that loss can never touch.
Sometimes we’re lonely for love, maybe not licking our wounds but maybe staring at a horizon that looks blank, and sometimes the bleakness steals our breath. It seems to be amplified at Christmastime when everyone is on the edge of their seat with nostalgia, when togetherness is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Loneliness gnaws at the chinks in our armor of thick-skinned smiles and it has no respect for how many friends we have, how many assets we have, how nice our cars are. It can come to us in prospering or poverty, the relentless cynic, convincing us we’ll never find love or that no one really cares. And staring at a blank horizon – we have no refutation to give. When life is uncertain, loneliness seems to have the upper hand.
The only cure for loneliness is the steadfast assurance of a Love that washes across our horizon, unmistakably, all-encompassing, more relentless than any cynic, more unreserved than we are undeserving.
Sometimes we’ve searched for love in ourselves and we’re sore with disappointment. Self-love will never satisfy and the proof is in surround-sound societal discord. There are few doctrines more religiously preached than self-love.
The of post-modernity says you’ll only be fulfilled if you’re living your truth, in control of your own destiny, that your most authentic “you” is the one most deserving of love. But it doesn’t fill the gaping hole because we all live with the broken, shameful pieces of who we really are, and the most authentic version of all of us is the most undeserving. When we’re fully known, we feel the shock of shame that wants to run and hide, not flaunt the spotlight. Maslow’s hierarchy preaches self-actualization as the pinnacle of enlightenment, so why is it that the most endemic condition is searching, not satisfaction? Follow the world’s recipe for love and you’ll find loneliness – and self-love is the gateway drug. The truth is? People don’t need self-actualization, we need salvation.
The only remedy for the disappointment of self-love is the enlightenment of the True Light that came into the world – that sees us in our sin and shame yet gives us His righteousness.
The cry of Christmas turns everything on its head and deafens the defeating voices of the world with the resounding truth — Jesus is better. Jesus is better — He nullifies the futility of every cultural identity trope, He surpasses every loss and earthly love, He blankets the loneliness of every longing of the heart.
Jesus – Love’s pure, Everlasting Light – may we be moved to endless, everlasting praise.