There’s an interesting translation of a Scripture in Romans 12 that says, “Let love be without dissimulation.” Dissimulation is a curious word because one of the fascinating things about each of us is how good we are at hiding our true feelings, our real thoughts and our intentions. Love appears to wear a lot of masks. I wonder if it’s even possible to “let love be without dissimulation” for more than a moment. We might be willing to be transparent in this moment, but not so much on the next one. The point is that love is a great big word. It is a changing, growing, hopeful, almost incomprehensible word. How do we unmask it? How do we authenticate it?
It seems to me that those of us who go around telling others that “God is love” need to be very clear about what we’re saying then. If we say that “God is love,” but then disguise our thoughts, hide our feelings, aren’t able to be real with God or our neighbors, then maybe we don’t get it. Maybe we don’t even understand love. Maybe that’s why we seek it and often destroy it in the same breath.
Love is meant to be transparent…clear…truth…rest…safe…kind…cleansing…uplifting…and any number of other appropriate adjectives you might ascribe to it. Greeting card expressions aside, love is a challenging pursuit even after you think you’ve found it.
Sometimes I feel more like a “love outsider” someone standing with my nose pressed against the window of love, but not quite getting through, not quite being seen. I know it’s there. I think I know how to respond to it, but then, it disappears, the shade is drawn, the moment lost and the connection abandoned. Without going into all the reasons for experiences like that, I’d like to go back to what that means about peeking through the window at God’s love. Many of us are lined up all right, standing there in clear view, yet somehow missing out on the hug, stopping short of embracing the full aspect and presence of the One who loves us unconditionally. Wow! What an idea! We have a God who loves us just as we are, all the time, grumpy or loving, mean spirited or kind, cleaned up or dirty, venomous or sweet. Loved clean and simple! Loved without dissimulation, no mask needed.
It’s an incredible challenge to me to consider how to be more like that. How to love myself even when I’m clearly not lovable, or how to love my potential partner when he isn’t listening to me, doesn’t seem to affirm me, doesn’t even seem to know I exist at times. I think about that because the rub is this. That’s what I do to the One I claim to love all the time. I stop listening, I don’t affirm our relationship, I don’t even act like He exists sometimes and yet, when I’m back, cuddled up close to Him, sitting at His feet in rapt adoration, He embraces me every time. He takes me back as though I never stepped away, He just lets love be the gift we share. Thank God!
My work is cut out for me then. Love with a great big “L” means that I have to strip off the mask, be real, and simply let it be and then perhaps, with a lot of grace, a little more hope, a willingness to try…that love, the real kind like God has for me, will be the very kind I give to everyone around me. Yup! I’m just going to embrace the whole idea of love today and send a little out to you too!