What is Love?

Today has started out very rough. I was texting this morning with my best friend and I commented that I never tell people that I love them. (She likes to tell me that a lot, I never respond.) This led me down this path of why I feel the way I do.

About the only person I tell I love them is my Mom, and I have to force myself to do it. It’s not something I want to tell her… I just feel like I have to.

What follows is the chain of emotions that erupted from that text. This is all stuff that started to connect in my head this morning. Christians, you don’t want to read this. Just stop here.

In church, the word “love” is jammed down your throat from the moment you walk in the door. “God loves you,” “Jesus loves the little children,” “God is love,” and many, many others are a constant theme anywhere you look.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m gonna say it again… the Christian version of “love” seems to mean “do exactly what we say, or else God is going to punish you so strongly not even death will save you.” That fear is what kept me in the closet for so long, putting my life on hold and having to live in the shadows.

The notation that “love” means … well, whatever that means… sigh. I guess the word has lost all meaning to me. It’s not a good word to me. There’s just so much baggage there.

So I started thinking about this. God “loves” me, yet he made me feel like my life was completely worthless. My life did not start to get better until I told God he wasn’t welcome in my life anymore. (And in fact, he doesn’t exist, so what am I worried about?)

In the name of “love” I’ve missed out on a lot of things in life. I’ve never really experienced romance. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I didn’t care enough about my body that I let myself balloon up to over 450lbs, something I feel the effects of today. I’ve gotten lectures from bosses about how I dress because I just didn’t care. I spent a lot of my life ashamed of myself in the name of “love”.

“Love” has pretty much robbed me of my extended family, and I feel like I’m not really welcome in my home state of Texas anymore.

The word “like” has a lot more meaning to me than “love.” I get to pick who I like.

There are folks that I’m pretty much “required” (in the Christian sense, I suppose, and maybe I should revisit this) to love by default, even if I don’t want to. All family members, for example.

But I don’t have to like them. “Love but not like” is a concept I picked up in church, and it just shows how twisted that word has become, but I still like the concept. I alone get to decide who I like. There’s no social requirements on it. Like is mine.

When I tell someone that I like them, to me, it carries meaning, because I means I chose them, and I’m not just acting out of a sense of duty.

Siiiiigh. This stuff is hard. I’m not really sure what to say. It’s the idea that God made me feel like my life was worthless, but yet I was still suppose to “love” him that made me get the most upset. I had good moments before I started living my life for me, but they were rare. Guilt and shame were the elements my life that guided everything I did.

Once I started living a little – like attending furry conventions and such – I had to lie about it to everyone. I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing, because I was scared of how they’d react. It was very rough… all in the name of “we love you, and we don’t want you to go to hell.”

I couldn’t even think about coming out of the closet until after I had left the church completely. It just wasn’t going to work any other way. I needed to get away from people that “love” me in order to feel like my life had meaning and value.

So if I don’t tell you that I love you, please don’t be upset. I like you too much to love you.

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