by Heather Bock
“With this darkness all around me, I like to be liked
In this emptiness and fear, I want to be wanted
Because I love to be loved, I love to be loved.
I love to be loved.
Yes, I love to be loved.”
–Peter Gabriel, Us, 1992
Am I the only one who has even heard of Peter Gabriel? The height of his fame was a long time ago now, and although I discovered them long after they were released, his introspective, emotional songs really captured my imagination. Some expressed how I felt when I was young and have stuck with me through the years. This is one of them. This one rang of truth. I know I’m not alone with Gabriel when I say that I also like to be liked. I want to be wanted. I love to be loved.
Isn’t a desire to be loved one of our deepest human longings?
When I was in high school, listening to this song on my big sister’s cassette tape for the first time, I had parental love, although at the time, I didn’t realize the extent of it. I always thought my dad’s love was conditional, never sure whether he would still love me if I did badly in my schoolwork or quit cross country, my special talent. I longed for surety of my father’s love no matter what, but as I did, I never was quite sure.
I know I liked to be liked—friendship love. It took me a few years in high school before I found my group of friends who I would stay in touch with even after decades passed. Before that, I remember longing particularly for a best friend, a kindred spirit, as Anne would say. Many years and moves later, I’ve found this feeling inside me again when in a new place. Even as I made very close friends, I still struggled to find that ideal, perfect friendship, the one Anne pretended she had, but maybe never found, either, despite what she said.
I also desired romantic love. After my sophomore year of high school, I was rarely without a long-term boyfriend—3 months turned to 2 years with my next, and 3 years with my next. I finally married the man I would love and be loved by for sixteen and a half years now. This is the closest I’ve come to finding the love I desire, but as much as he tries, my husband is human, after all. He can’t perfectly love me, either.
Familial love, friendship love, and romantic love, as good as they were (and are) in earthly terms, still didn’t quite satisfy. It seemed, as Solomon lamented in Ecclesiastes, to be a chasing after the wind.
For what did I truly long? And why did I long for it?
I believe we all want to be wanted, like to be liked, and love to be loved because we were created that way. We were created as wanted, liked, and loved beings, but in the beginning not by the other created beings around us, but by the Creator Himself. God created us out of His love, out of who He is—the embodiment of Love.
This is why we long for love—because we were MEANT to be loved, and in fact, we ARE loved to the extent and in the way we long.
Why do we keep longing for it then? Why aren’t we satisfied? I think my experience can speak to this.
All the while I searched for love, I struggled with the idea of God loving me. Oh, I had known in my head that God loves me from the age of four, but really feeling it and understanding it in my heart? That was much harder. We tend to get our idea of God’s love from what we experience in this earthly life, and as earthly love falls short, we often make the error that God’s love falls short, too. Sometimes our pastors unintentionally lead this way, too, overemphasizing sin and underemphasizing grace. Some also seem to teach that God can only stand us in our sinfulness because He looks at us through the covering of Christ—in other words, that He loves Christ, but not us. This emphasis can make us forget that while we were still sinners, out of love, Christ died for us.
We need to soak in God’s love in order to truly take it in and believe it.
We need to meditate on it, memorize His words about it, and choose to place our trust in it.
Do you still long for this deep love? Have you been trying to find it in earthly loves? Have you found this approach lacking? Study the parables of the Vineyard Workers, which shows His grace (Matt. 20:1-16), the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:12-14), and the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32). In addition, take these words deep inside you:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
“Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.” –Micah 7:18-19
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” –I John 4:7-10
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39