Love: Needs Vs. Wants

By Hope Martin | September 16, 2021

“It (love) does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

1 Corinthians 13:6-8a

What do you do when someone loves you in a way that you did not expect? Do you shrug it off, chalking it up to differences in personality? Or, do you get frustrated and hurt, wondering why can’t they love you in the right ways, in the ways you feel loved? I’ve talked to myself or God for hours, wrestling with hurt because someone I loved and supported well didn’t love me back well enough. Why couldn’t they love me like I needed?

We need to evaluate if we desire to feel loved or to be loved. Feeling loved is a wonderful experience that we can describe using several different words. It is warm, exhilarating, reassuring, comfortable, peaceful, satisfying. Feeling loved can mean feeling seen, heard, understood, and supported. The cool thing is—feeling loved is different for everybody. Sure, there are similarities and matches, but because we are all unique people, how we feel loved is unique, too.

On the other hand, being loved is much more similar across the board, and much less fuzzy feely. Being loved is: accountability, being told the truth in love, discipline, correction, weaning, etc. We all need accountability. We all need to be told the truth in love, not enabled to keep feeding our sin. We all need discipline at times, instead of rewards that are given regardless of our behavior. It is not loving to allow someone to continue in self-destructive and harmful patterns and behaviors. It is not loving to turn a blind eye to sin.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Ephesians 4:15-16

Both feeling loved and being loved are valuable, but we need to keep them in their proper places. I would argue that both chocolate and exercising are good for you, albeit in different ways. Chocolate is instantly pleasurable, but if that’s all you ate, you would quickly become sick. You might refuse to eat it again. Exercising is painful, particularly at the beginning, but do it consistently and you will find that you feel better and better. Both are good, and both need moderation, but one leaves you craving more and one leaves you feeling healthier and satisfied.

If we are hurt and frustrated when people do not love us in the ways we want, that hurt and frustration is magnified when God does not love us in the ways we want Him to love us. We pray and ask Him to grant requests. We pray for a good promotion, but somebody else gets it. We just want the kids to behave today, but they get into all the wrong things and throw fits. The situations go on and on. Matthew 7 talks about how if we ask, we will receive. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, the door will be opened to us. Why isn’t God granting these requests?

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:9-11

In these scenarios, the child is asking for food—not toys or ice cream or a new bike. Food doesn’t seem like a gift, especially since most of us are not wondering from where or when our next meal will come. Generally, a gift is something you didn’t need but you wanted and someone has given it to you. Christmas morning has gifts. Birthdays have gifts. But here it says that these, bread and fish, are good gifts.

Many of the times that we feel or think God is not loving us, is because He is supplying for our needs, not our wants. He is loving us, not making us feel loved. He knows what we need, much better than we know ourselves. He gives us exercise because He is a good Father who gives good things to those who ask Him. He is generous to give us many, many things we don’t need; His love is abundant, deeper and wider than we can fathom. We can trust Him to give us what we need, when we need it.