Updated: Nov 1, 2019
We all just want to be loved, don't we? There is nothing lonelier than feeling like no one cares.
I want to be loved like Tabitha. In my book 'As the Stars', I feature a story on this amazing woman from the Bible, but today I want to talk a little about what makes her so special. She was raised from the dead, which is pretty incredible, but why she was raised from the dead is what makes me yearn to be like her.
There are many ways to show love and to feel loved. The book “The Five Love Languages” tries to help couples connect on a deeper level by learning what they need to feel loved, and what their spouse needs to feel loved. All of those love languages involve doing something. It is not enough to simply feel love for someone, we need to show it to them in how we act and speak.
There are so many verses that show that love is more than a rosy emotion! Here are only three:
“Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us . . .” Ephesians 5:2
"Walk in love" implies that this is more than a feeling, it's a lifestyle that imitates the life of Christ.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
We show our love for God by following His commandments. God wants more than just our emotions, He wants every part of our lives.
“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.” 1 Corinthians 4-7
This is true love, shown in its full glory in Christ's sacrifice on the cross. We love because God loved us first. If we want to show love, and hopefully be loved in turn, we need to imitate Christ's actions. We strive to be good—not to earn our salvation—but because we are saved.
(Read more about this in Do We Need to Be Good to Stay Forgiven?)
Moralizing often goes in one ear and out the other. But a story, an endearing example of a person (real or fictional) that shows us the benefits of loving through selflessness, kindness, action, and word make us want to imitate them.
If you read Young Adult/Children fiction from a hundred years ago or so, you see the main characters have a strong desire to be “good”. They believe they need to be kind to be admired. If they want friends, if they want to find love, if they want to go to heaven, they need to be good. (Part of this is a culture that believed a children's story needed a moral, but I remember noticing the sentiment even as a young girl. It stood out to me because many other books I read didn't have this same focus on goodness.)
There wasn't a fear of being a “goody-two-shoes”, as long as a person was showing their morals through action and not simply preaching at people.
Here are some quotes from some of my favorite classics that show how people felt about a person perceived to be good:
“People who make sacrifices are very much loved and admired, aren't they?” she asked, earnestly.
“If the sacrifice is a true one. But many of the bravest never are known, and get no praise. That does not lessen their beauty, though perhaps it makes them harder, for we all like sympathy,” and Dr. Alec sighed a patient sort of sigh.
- Eight Cousins, Chapter Nine
The effect Heidi's sweet, consideration has on “grandmother” always makes me tear up a little bit. Who wouldn't want someone to say something like this about them?
After many long years, happiness had come into the blind grandmother's dreary life. Every day she listened for the tripping footstep, and when the door opened and the child actually came dancing in, then she always exclaimed joyfully, “God be praised! She has come again!”
- Heidi, Chapter Four
“Mrs. Allen says we ought always to influence other people for good. She talked so nice about everything. I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a Christian if I could be one like her.”
- Anne of Green Gables, Chapter Twenty-one
“It's such a solemn thing to be almost fourteen, Marilla. Miss Stacy took all us girls who are in our teens down to the brook last Wednesday and talked to us about it. She said we couldn't be too careful what habits we formed and what ideals we acquired in our teens, because by the time we were twenty our characters would be developed and the foundation laid for our whole future life. And she said if the foundation was shaky we could never build anything really worthwhile on it. Diana and I talked the matter over coming home from school.”
- Anne of Green Gables, Chapter Thirty
The final line from Anne of Green Gables, right after she selflessly gives up her own dreams to take care of Marilla,
“The joys of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road! “God's in His heaven, all's right in the world,” whispered Anne softly.
In Pride and Prejudice we admire Elizabeth's pluck, but she, in turn, admires her sister for her goodness.
“Oh! You are a great deal too apt you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.”
“I would not want to be hasty in censuring anyone; but I always speak what I think.”
“I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough—one meets it everywhere. But to be candid without ostentation or design— to take the good of everybody's character and make it still better, to say nothing of the bad—belongs to you alone.”
- Pride and Prejudice, Chapter Four
And again after Jane's engagement to Bingley, Jane is overjoyed and wishes the same for her sister. Elizabeth replies,
“If you were to give me forty such men, I could never be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness.”
- Pride and Prejudice, Chapter Fifty-five
We love Anne and Elizabeth for their spark and enthusiasm for life, but we might not like them so much if they were selfish. We like that Elizabeth cherishes her sweet, good sister. Books like this teach a reader that to have friends and love you must be kind to others, honest, willing to admit when you're wrong and apologize, give up things you want for others benefit, keep from gossip, and influence other people to be good.
What does a young person today think they need to have friends and find love? I hope they would say they need to be kind, but according to the images I see on media, they might believe they need to be:
Rich (or at least well-off)
Bold in going after what they want
There's nothing wrong with these things, but they should not be our highest ideals.
Kindness is still valued by people, especially when it's directed at them. Yet, how many people justify being a little mean for the sake of getting what they want? They seem to say, “Be kind, but not at the expense of your own happiness.” After all, “Nice guys finish last.”