I love playing games. Board games, party games, video games, card games; it doesn’t matter, I will play just about anything. I also love competition. I enjoy figuring out my opponent’s weakness and using it to my advantage. For a person who likes to play to win, there’s nothing more valuable than a competitive edge.
But there used to be a time in my life when my talent for games extended beyond entertainment and into the matters of the heart. For a long time, I used to be a master at relationship games. My expertise, although versatile, usually centered on a few specific games:
- Keep Him Guessing – The objective of this game was to strategically construct words and actions to be so ambiguous and/or inconsistent that my boyfriend could neither confirm or deny my feelings for him.
- Where Did She Go? – This is a game of illusion. After several weeks of consistent interaction with a boyfriend, I would suddenly “disappear”. Unanswered calls and alterations to my daily routine would make me nearly untraceable and my boyfriend fully bewildered and worried.
- Say Nothing, Feel Nothing – To play this game you must be skilled in the art of loud silence. This is when I would make my discontentment so non-verbally loud that the silence become maddening. Then my boyfriend would be forced to ask what’s wrong or what am I feeling. My only verbal response would be “nothing”.
To tell you the truth, playing these games required an unimaginable amount of time, energy, and planning. They were exhausting! So why did I play?
I’m going to skip the usual answers about societal influences and poor relationship examples and just get right to it. I was scared…of losing. I saw love and relationships as a game. Just like any other gamer there must be winners and losers; and I didn’t want to be the loser. In fact, for a long time, I believed those who were happiest in love were those who retained the highest positions of power by having the other person always thinking and chasing after them. The competitive edge. What a sad, warped, and deficient description of love this was, but it was the only one I had. But things changed once I started reading about love from the One who wrote the book on it…literally.
I remember reading 1 John 4:16-19
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
I had love all wrong; it was never a game to be played and won. I began to realize that love was first, above all, a Person. That Person made a decision to put love in to action by fearlessly giving up everything to save those that didn’t do anything to deserve His love. I am striving daily to make this love the reason and the rhythm behind how I love others.
The perfect (complete) love of God is continuously purging my fears about being hurt and losing in love. It’s not that it doesn’t or can’t happen, but abiding in God’s design and boundaries for love gives me assurance to know it will be minimal and short-lived. The reason is because I never have to be worried about not being wanted, pursued, and loved. God Himself loved me enough to pursue me to the grave and back. That’s love, real love, no games.
In God, there are no losers in love because He already won our hearts and souls, once and for all eternity. Game Over.
What tempts you to play love games? Is the perfect love of God shaping how you approach matters of the heart? When it comes to relationships, do your actions say “Game On” or “Game Over”? Share your comments below.