Dorothy we’re not in Kansas anymore (if love is a house part II)

We have talked about allowing God to build our houses of love, what supports the house, and the individual components. What happens when the house is threatened? What happens when our cute little house or expansive mansion is hit by a tornado? What happens when life lifts us from the safety of our home and we aren’t in Kansas anymore?

I have found that a home can be threatened by many things. One is neglect. What we don’t take care of begins to fall apart. I am responsible for my house. I have to clean it, change the furnace filter, and make sure it stays in good condition. It’s my responsibility to care for it and I don’t expect anyone else to do it for me. I believe the same is true for our house of love, we can neglect it. We stop doing the things we did at first and wonder why the house is falling apart. Love requires us to do something: serve, care for, encourage, do what makes the other person feel special. When we stop caring for the ones we love or neglect them, the enemy is quick to discourage the other person, or send a substitute. I am not married, but have seen marriages fall apart because one person neglected the other. They blame the spouse for cheating, which is wrong, but they have a role to play as well if they were neglecting their spouse. I have seen friendships shift and change because one person felt neglected, they simply found someone to love them the way they wanted to be loved. I am not condoning the behavior. I am saying that no matter how nice your house is, you need to take care of it and maintain it.

Selfishness can threaten our house of love. When one or both people think they are the center of the universe instead of putting God at the center, the house starts to crumble. It may look good on the outside but inside the structure is crumbling. I am convinced that selfishness, which is rooted in pride can bring down a house of love.

What about external forces. I have found that what we spend years building can be swept away by one tragedy. I think about how natural disasters can uproot a home that stood strong for years. Tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, high winds, lightening, they can cause chaos and reek havoc on a home. What are the disasters that can damage or destroy our house of love?

A home no matter how well it’s built can be destroyed by a storm. Some storms are so fierce only God can rebuild the home or it won’t be rebuilt at all. Disasters of infidelity, devastation of abuse, deceit, treachery, secrets, betrayal and excessive sin can destroy a home of love. I have heard people say forgive and forget. Forgiveness is an integral part of rebuilding after the devastation. However, just as it takes months to years to rebuild a home after a tornado hits, the healing of our devastation can take time. Once the trust beams have been broken and demolished, it can take years to rebuild. Sometimes the damage goes way below the foundation and it takes a miracle of God to rebuild. The phrase that comes to my mind is don’t try to put a band aid on a broken bone. Healing takes time. Forgiveness resets the bone, but time heals the wound and God’s healing puts it back together. No matter the devastation, the rebuild will look different, feel different, and only God can fill the home with love again. Maybe the house of love you and other person had will not be rebuilt, but God still wants to rebuild your house of love with Him.

When people hurt us, betray us (depending on how bad), we often want to give up on loving, give up on trusting, and live in a place of fear. Will we ever be able to love or trust again? Fear and love weren’t meant to occupy the same place. Just as pride and love weren’t meant to occupy the same spaces. Only God’s love can cast out fear and make us whole again. Only His love can rebuild us stronger than we were before. When I see a hurting person I try to see the pain and know only God can heal the pain. I try not to put a band aid on broken bones or advise above God’s wisdom.

Finally we talk about small storms. Storms that don’t bring the house down but put so much strain on it that over time can cause significant damage. Some storms I can think of are when we are disappointed by the one we love or they betray us in small ways. If we allow those hurts to build they can turn into a whirlwind. A whirlwind that sweeps through a home destroying love. Storms of un-met needs, selfishness and hurt feelings that aren’t dealt with can rip up the floors of forgiveness and set fire to the beams. It’s important when the small storms come to forgive, pray and communicate. I can’t stress the importance of the three. They are connected. Sometimes the other person may not hear you, may not want to change, may not show compassion or admit their part. However you can prevent a big issue and prevent further hurt by doing those three things. The point is for us (you and me) to be free.

Praying you and I, no matter what is happening externally do our part to keep the house operational on the inside. No matter how much we try only God can build it well and rebuild it when our sin or life just gets in the way. God has to remain in the center. We will save that for the next blog! You are loved.

If Love is a House

So when I hear the phrase love is house, the analytical part of my brain says “who builds this house? What’s the foundation made of”? The engineer in me says what are all the structural components, materials needed, where are my blue prints and how long will this take?

One of the many troubles with love is that our lovely media shows us one finished room, it has been staged to catch our eye and entice our appetite. The lighting is perfect. It is everything you could ever want. We think love is great, it’s exciting, it’s perfect.

The trouble comes when we try to build our own house of love. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t always glamorous and someone has to clean up. Maintaining this house takes work and sometimes hard work. Yes it can be exciting, fun, and delightful. But if the house isn’t built on the right foundation, if a storm hits, the house comes crumbling down. If the house is built too quickly and the foundation hasn’t settled it will cave in as well.

If we compare the house we are trying to build with anyone else’s, we suffer disappointment. No house is identical. Yes they may have similarities, but ultimately each one is unique.

So how do we build this house of love? Glad you asked. Since I’m a Christian you will get the Christ centered response. Let God pour the foundation and use His Word as a blueprint. He is crucial to a great build. He has years of experience and knows what it takes to make a relationship work. Ask Him how to love and for His love.

Next pour in friendship. Work on being a good friend to the one you love. The more time you spend learning to be a great friend to the other person and to God, the better off you’ll be. The friendship will support the relationship when storms come or when the relationship isn’t so exciting. The foundation is the most important part. Friendship includes listening, caring, supporting, selflessness, and common ground.

Next put up the support beams of trust, mutual respect, honesty, loyalty and commitment. It is difficult to have the house of love supported without these key items. Take them out and you have a pile of shrapnel instead of a relationship. These are going to hold up the walls and with the foundation, support the entire house. If the support beams fail, the structure fails and it takes a long time to rebuild.

Now up go the walls of common desires, compatibility and all the fun stuff. Each house will look different. The walls are necessary, but they can be changed, modified or taken down. The walls are held together by the supports and also connect to the floors. I think of the floors as blankets of forgiveness. If we can’t forgive we watch our relationships crumble. If there are no floors, there is no house. Unforgiveness, which is pride can’t co-exist with love. Love forgives.

So who puts the roof on, the covering for this house of love? God. He holds the house together by His love and grace. He starts it and He lays the foundation (He created love-it’s who He is). He supplies the tools needed to build and maintain the house. He provides His word as the blue print for this house. It reads: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, ⁠does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, ⁠does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; ⁠bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

So praying you and I let God show us how to love. I pray our expectations would be rooted in reality and bathed in grace. I hope everyone we meet sees the love of God in us and we see every relationship as a gift. Take care of the ones you love, don’t neglect love, it’s a precious gift.