Camp, Retreat, and Conference Center

And They Call it Puppy Love

I’m old enough to remember when Paul Anka sang these words to Annette Funichello in 1960:

“And they called it puppy love
Oh, I guess they’ll never know
How a young heart really feels
And why I love her so.”

A few years later I was experiencing “puppy love” with a girl named Bonnie.  Every day I would stand outside her house in hopes that she would come out and talk.  And most of the time she did.  I remember going to the corner store and buying a costume jewelry ring to present to her.  It was a token of my love for her.  There were notes back and forth in school and I was sure that she was the love of my life.  Then I had a rude awakening.  The day came when she dropped me and moved on.  What I thought was true love was only puppy love.

What I thought was real love wasn’t.  But the years have given me time to absorb truths about real love.

I’ve learned that true love doesn’t give up.  I’ve come to realize that true love isn’t a feeling, it’s a commitment.  I read about an elderly man who came every day to visit his wife in a care facility.   His age made it difficult for him to make the daily trip, and the staff was concerned.  One of them suggested that he didn’t need to come so often.  After all, she hadn’t recognized or spoken to him for months.  He thought for a minute, and then responded. “We’ve been married over 50 years.  On our wedding day I made a commitment to love and cherish her in sickness and in heath, till death do us part. Death hasn’t parted us, so I’m going to come every day.”  What commitment!  Commitment to a promise made, and a love that continued even when the other couldn’t respond.

I’ve learned that love isn’t about my needs, but the needs of the ones I love.  We all have needs.  Some can be met by our spouse or friends, others can’t.  But relationships aren’t about what I get, but what I give.  In that giving, I’ll often find my needs met.  We live in a society that is all about me.  What I look like, what I believe, what I feel, what my rights are.  It’s every man for himself.  But everything rotating about me doesn’t build intimacy.  It doesn’t endear me to others.  It tends to isolate me.  It’s interesting that occasionally people decide to volunteer on a certain day. United Way and some companies have dubbed these “days of service.”   They serve food, or paint a room in a non-profit organization.  People go away feeling good that they’ve done something for others that will never be able to reward them.  And then it’s back to the rat race and about everything revolving around me.  Love shouldn’t be something we use to feel good, it’s an attitude that puts others needs first every day.

I’ve learned that the greatest example of love is found in Jesus Christ.  In telling us of his experience John reminded us” that we love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NKJV)  Jesus focus wasn’t on his needs, it was, and is, on ours.  We see this in his willingness to stoop down and wash the disciples’ dirty feet.  This was the job of a servant, and often those lowest on the totem pole.  Mark said, “He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Mark 10:45 GW) He gave his life for others.  Those are the kind of words you might hear at the funeral of someone who lived for others; or a soldier who put his own life on the line to save the lives of his platoon.  Talk about commitment.  We see it in Jesus willingness to suffer humiliation and shame on a cross, the cruelest form of capital punishment by the Romans.  Jesus own words remind us, “No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will.” (John 10:18 GW).  Charles Wesley wrote this song in the 1700’s.  Seeing Jesus great love for us he questioned:

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

We can affirm Jesus amazing love. The questions of the verse of song calls for a resounding “yes”.  He died for me, but more importantly rose and lives for me.  This was no puppy love, but real love laying itself on the line for others.heart-made-of-hearts