Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Control is not Love

   I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. I was a young musician, returning to the Chicago area after spending a few years in San Diego, California. I had an incredible passion for music for as long as I could remember being alive. Some of my earliest memories as a young boy involved waking up very early in the morning, turning on a radio my family kept on a kitchen counter, and listening to music at low volume while the rest of my family slept. As I grew older, music continued to be something I was incredibly passionate about. I wouldn't simply listen to it, I would literally study it. I always seemed to have this deep awareness and understanding of the various instruments, how they worked together, and how they complimented one another. It was an awareness that most people I knew didn't share, and the only way I can describe it would be to say that it was simply wired into my DNA.

   I was 21 years old when I returned to Chicago, and I had a dream for my future that very few people understood. By that time in my life, I had spent countless hours playing my guitar and writing my own music. It was my absolute passion, and one which I believed I was beginning to excel in. Upon returning to my family, I expressed my desire to go back to school in an effort to pursue a lifelong dream - to study music and become a professional musician. I had decided to enroll at Berklee College of Music, which at the time was the premier music school in the country.

   The response I received from my family was far from supportive. I was mocked and ridiculed. I was told that I was nothing more than a dreamer. I was told that what I needed to do was to go out and get a "real" job, and forget about those crazy dreams of mine.

   I heeded the advice of my family, firmly believing they only wanted what was best for me and for my future. I began to believe their words - that I was just being some sort of a dreamer, trapped in a fantasy world. After all, real life didn't work that way. People took jobs, made a living, and put food on their table. That's just the way things were to be done. The dreamers of the world were destined to end up poor, disillusioned, and defeated.

   I eventually took a job that paid fairly well, would supply me with my needs, and would be stable and consistent. I stayed at that job for 27 years.

   While I'm grateful to have been given the stability this job gave me, I never once felt as though I belonged there. I never felt truly fulfilled by it. It was, after all, just a job, and it never became anything more. Meanwhile, the questions have always lingered in the back of my mind. What if I had pursued my dreams? What if I had poured my entire life into something I was truly passionate about? Where would I find myself now had I done so? While I fully understand that we can never go back, those questions will always remain in the back of my mind. Is it possible that I would've failed? Absolutely. But what leaves a more bitter taste in one's mouth? Striving to live out one's dreams and failing, or never giving those dreams an opportunity to be realized?

   When I think back upon who I have always been, and what I've always felt passionate about, I remember Psalm 139:13-14

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

   If these words are true - and I believe they are - what does that say about this passion for music which has always been hard-wired into who I am as a person? It says that it's there for a reason. It isn't an accident. God intended for it to be there. That's not just true for me, it is true for every human being on this planet.

   Throughout the course of my life, I've heard countless stories of people who have had dreams for where they'd like to see their lives go, but who have at some point become involved in relationships with others who didn't share those dreams, and in an effort to keep the peace within those relationships, they let go of the very things they'd always been passionate about.

   More often than not, the people they find themselves committed to don't see the value of those dreams because they fear they will lose the other person if those dreams are pursued. They have a vision in their mind as to who this other person should be for them, as opposed to seeing them as the person they were created to be.

   But what is genuine love? Genuine love says "I love who you are as a person........I love that you are passionate about these things........I believe you've always had this passion to do these things because - just as I am - you are "......fearfully and wonderfully made...."

   If we truly love someone, we will never insist that they do away with the things they are passionate about. We will instead support, encourage, and inspire them to be who they were created to be by God Himself, and we will be filled with joy as we watch them excel in the areas the were created to excel.

 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

   I don't see anything in those verses saying "Love is forcing others to live their lives in a way that we would live ours......insisting they give up on their dreams to make us feel more comfortable." If we insist that they be who we want them to be and let go of their dreams..........we aren't loving them........We are controlling them.




  1. The most powerful expression of love is to encourage the dreamer to present his gift s and dreams back to the one who knows him best, who knit him together in his mothers womb, who has a God-sized, incredible purpose for his life. You are right; it is a gift and we may do with it what we will. But think of the privilege and potential of volitionally presenting it and ourselves to the One who designed us in the first place (Romans 6). This is love that He first loved us and gave Himself for us. Having gone that far, will He withhold any good thing from us? (Romans 8) As for how best to love gifted-others? While trying to control them is certainly not love, encouraging their natural inclinations is not the end-all either.. Holding onto the gift and developing it along the lines of our own imagination and dreams is a natural inclination. Presenting ourselves and our gifts to God is not. Love is to want the highest good, the most meaningful life for our loved one. Encouraging others to place themselves in the loving, creative hands of the God of the universe Himself is the highest love. Cemeteries are filled with the people who have taken their gifts and pursued their dreams, but never dreamed high enough, never dreamed God-sized thoughts, God-sized plans, God-sized experiences, God-sized results, or God-sized lives....and died never realizing their true purpose, therefore died still wondering, still unfulfilled.