WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE, WAS TENNYSON RIGHT?

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the poet Tennyson’s observation “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Apparently not everyone agrees with Tennyson’s observation because with the passing of time his observation has been turned into a question, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?”

My sense is that the answer to the question would depend upon people’s experiences with love. I don’t know if Tennyson was referring only to people, but we all know that even though we do love people, our love is not limited to people. For example, in my life I have loved many pets that eventually died. I grieved the loss of each one, but never regretted loving any of them.

In terms of my work as a pastor, I have served and left four churches. My first experience was as a summer intern youth minister. As I left that church to return to college I was stunned how hard it was for me to leave.

Following my summer internship I got a part time youth minister position close to the college I was attending. I stayed there for five years, but eventually accepted the opportunity to serve a small church near the East coast. As we pulled out of the church parking lot in our U-Haul I could not hold back the tears.

The same thing happened 10 years later as we went to the airport to head to California where I had the opportunity to plant a church. Some 33 years later I was embarrassed (although I should not have been) to cry as I began my drive to Texas after I said good-by to three of my best friends with whom I played golf.

All of us have lost loved ones (family and friends) and grieved their passing. I could go on with more examples but I think the point is clear. All of us have loved and lost in a variety of ways and situations.

Let’s return to Tennyson’s observation as well as try to answer the question people have asked in light of his statement. While some may reject it, I’m confident the majority would agree with Tennyson’s observation, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But how do we answer the question, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?”

In a 2012 article Dr. Jennifer L. Kunst suggests “We ask, wouldn’t it be better to protect ourselves from the pain of loss by never loving—really loving—at all?” Some may ask that question, but I don’t think many do. Dr. Kunst reminds us that “painful feelings of loss are an inevitable part of love. To be true to my best self, I must embrace the reality that the more I love, the more painful the loss.”

Perhaps the questions we might ask ourselves are, “Is it worth it? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” My answer is a resounding yes. I agree with Dr. Kunst, “How sad it would be to live our lives in a mode of self-protection that costs us some of the most precious experiences of life: to love and to be loved.”

Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.

Love Stock photos by Vecteezy

PUT IN YOUR NAME

Since it was Valentine’s Day this past Sunday I preached about love from I Corinthians 13. This passage is the most profound piece on love ever written and I call it “The Bible’s Love Song.” I call it a love song because it can be divided into three stanzas. And it is a love song like no other love song that has been or ever will be written.

Verses 1-3 provide the first stanza and it tells us Love Is Essential. Verses 4-7 give us the second stanza and Describe Love telling us what love is, what it does, and what it doesn’t do. Finally, verses 8-13 form the third stanza and tell us Love Is Eternal.

The first stanza proclaims that without love wonderful speech, great spirituality, and sacrificial giving aren’t that impressive. And it is a troubling thought to think someone could speak in tongues, have the gift of prophecy, fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, have a faith that can move mountains, or sacrifice everything, and yet not have love.

The third stanza proclaims that contrasted with prophesy, tongues, and knowledge, love will endure and continue forever. In the here and now faith, hope, and love all remain. Nevertheless, some day our faith will become sight and our hope will be fulfilled. But because it is the greatest, love will last forever.

But it’s the second stanza I want us to focus on. In the message I did what I have done many times before suggesting that we all substitute our name for love in the description Paul gives. To make clear what I was saying I read verses 4-7 putting in my name in place of love. And after all these years of being a Christian, a pastor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a neighbor, a friend, a teacher, and many other roles, I was overwhelmed. More than any other time I had used this illustration in the past, I realized how far short I fall in terms of living out and showing this description of love.

I invite you to read these verses (possibly out loud) putting your name in place of love:   4 [your name] is patient, [your name] is kind. [Your name] does not envy, [your name] does not boast, [your name] is not proud. 5[Your name] does not dishonor others, [your name] is not self-seeking, [your name] is not easily angered, [your name] keeps no record of wrongs. [Your name] does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [Your name] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In doing this I hope you are convicted, challenged, and encouraged as much as I was when I did it in front of the church on Sunday. “Dear friends let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:7 and 8).

Reply with comments below and share this post if you think others would appreciate it.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/98192834@N07/17258906366″>042615 142lre2</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;