i love you too much

i love you too much February 25, 2013
i love you too much cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“i love you too much” by nakedpastor David Hayward

Love changes people, but it doesn’t intend to.

If you get a sniff of an agenda in what’s being called love, run in the other direction please. Because that’s not love.

You are beautiful, amazing and fascinating as you are. You are loved as you are. Period!

I’ve experienced it and seen it: when you realize you are overwhelmingly loved as you are, just as you are, with no ulterior motive to change you, the transformation is an amazing and happy one. You rest in yourself.

It actually goes like this: “I love you so much. Full stop!”

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  • aviatrix

    Had to read this twice to see the “but”, which puts it in a whole different light than my first reading. I thought “why in the world would she laugh at and boot out a man who loves her too much too leave her when she’s – what? Sick? In distress? Angry at him for something stupid he did? She expects him to leave, and no, he won’t because he loves her more than she expects, so she’s going to short circuit it? I don’t get that…”

    Then I noticed it said “but”, not “and”. Ah – entirely different animal. He loves her so much he must change her? Yes – laugh in his face. He has no clue as to what love means, and she deserves better than that. Imagine the odd looks someone would get if they said “oh, I love my red corvette too much to leave it red. Or a corvette. I will change it, piece by piece, into the black audi I wish it was.”

  • I appreciate the sentiment of this cartoon, but… If I had a problem with, say, alcoholism, what kind of expectation should I have of those who really love me? I think it’s obvious that they would want to see change in this particular area of my life.
    And I think that is the what the words “I love you too much to leave you that way” are trying and possibly failing to communicate.
    So my question is, What is the proper way to let someone you love know that you love them the way they are but that because of your love for them you also desire to help them succeed in conquering current habits?

  • What about “I love you too much to watch you kill yourself with alcohol;” or “I love you too much to stand aside while you enslave yourself with drugs;” or, am I in the wrong for saying that I love my wife too much to let her continue to think of herself as unlovable, as worthless, or as ugly?
    I think that I understand what you’re trying to say. Your point is, I believe, that true love does not manipulate for its own agenda or purpose. Love does not use the other to validate itself or to control. You want to say that God loves us just as we are; that we don’t have to get our lives together as a condition of his love. I would agree with all of that; and I believe that that message should be shouted out in the loudest voice.
    What I hear when I read your words is that we don’t have the right to say “no” to each other; to stand up to wrong or harmful behavior; that love is incompatible with accountability or a desire to see the beloved rise to their full potential. (You yourself have called people to stand up and say “no” to spiritual abuse; yet I doubt that you would say that that act is incompatible with love for the abuser.)
    What I hear when I read your words is that God’s love is fine with seeing us continue in the self-destructive and others-destructive patterns of behavior that we are caught in.
    I understand that the phrase “God loves you too much to leave you as you are” can be and has been used in abusive, coercive and controlling ways. People have twisted this idea, just like they have twisted so many other truths, to their own selfish and evil ends. That doesn’t mean that the initial truth is no longer true. We shouldn’t take that intitial truth and reject it; we should re-learn what it means, and re-learn how to relate, re-learn how to hold each other accountable and re-learn how to love.

  • yes, sorry, I believe you said what I wanted to say, Mark, but possibly better. I formulated a response in Word and copied it over without refreshing the page thus not realizing that you had already said what needed to be said.

  • Carol

    And if a man compliments you for being a hard-working woman or for what you “bring to the table”, run away as fast as you can because he is not looking for a spouse, he is looking for a slave.

  • Gary

    Very interesting comment stream thus far. I like what Johnathan and Mark have had to say very much yet I still like the statement as originally presented in David’s cartoon. Perhaps the culture of religion (at least as I have experienced it) so muddies our thinking concerning this thing called love.
    It seems to me that examples of alcoholism, abuse, and other types of destructive behavior misses the mark in the cartoon. If I become an alcoholic and risk my job, my family, and my life then yes I hope someone loves me enough to intervene and help me. But this is really not what I see being presented here. In my experience “love” was a license to control and manipulate people into thinking and behaving according to what the one using it felt was appropriate. I have seen this used in romantic relationships where one is not happy with the person they are with and seeks to change them for their own benefit rather than accepting them for who they are. I have seen church leaders use it as an excuse to justify very controlling behavior over their congregations. My old church went through a phase of believing in “accountability partners” where you literally delivered control of your day to day decisions and thoughts to another who was to lovingly “guide” you into spiritual maturity. Of course the focus ended up being on rule keeping and became quite legalistic in the implementation of it all.
    I like David’s cartoon just the way it is. I suspect most of us can identify with what the young lady is saying in her prayer without discounting the validity of the point based on worst case scenarios. In fact, if we have trouble accepting the love of God in it’s purest form, it is likely because it has been so polluted by those very types of individuals this young lady is referring to.

    BTW David, Excellent artwork. Love it!

  • thanks guys. actually this happens to me once in a while where i wish the cartoon was more explicit. i should have ended her prayer with, “and that goes for you too!” In other words, i was hoping would see that she wouldn’t take that kind of love from God either. because that’s not love. love does not intend to change the object of its love. i firmly believe this. even if the person is an addict or criminal.

  • Gary, are you being paid for being a “laudatory commentator”? (I just learned the term on the
    Good Wife, the other day.) The point is, things are not so simple. While life and love and good things need to be free, none of us are perfect and not enslaved to one thing or another, at times. And that’s why there are two or more, to help each other do the right thing. Still, in romantic matters and many others it seems to right to stay away from control-freaks.

  • I agree; but would like to point to a distinction between what one does and who one is. Lying does not necessarily make me a liar. God doesn’t want to change who we are; He made us and declared that we are good. But He certainly doesn’t like all of the things that we do; and I’m sure that He would prefer that we behave differently sometimes; and I would think that He would like to guide us to changing that behavior. As God He would have the wisdom and love to do that in a healthy way.

    Love doesn’t want to change the beloved, but love does seek the best for the beloved even if that means trying to guide the beloved into healthier more mature behavior.

  • Gary

    Not paid so far as I know Brigitte…but I’ll check my bank statement just in case I missed something. 😉

    I would certainly never make the implication that anything was “simple” regarding an issue such as this. I am really lost as to how you could get such a sentiment from my comments.

  • So if someone likes something i do and says so they must be getting paid for it? hm.

  • Cool. I like the way you said it, too.

  • Love can be given permission to help change happen; that looks like: “I know you love me just as I am, but I need you to help me change this” But it’s not really love if it expects to take that permission; that looks like: “You’re perfect; now change!”

  • Dear David, I know you don’t have time to read everything that gets posted here. However, Gary’s fawning and Gary’s condemning goes pretty much in similar veins with regularity. Towards me, he feels justified to use every sort of non-nonsensical insult that pops into his head, and he has even justified it with Matthew 23, where Jesus tears a strip off the Pharisees. With you, he tries to back you up every time. Yes, I think “laudatory” is a nice way to put it. No, I don’t really think he is being paid. 🙂

  • Caryn LeMur

    I noticed the key word ‘intervention’.

    May I offer that Bonnie (my wife) and I have shared God’s love with many men in the hidden camps – ex-felons, ex-rapists, drug users, alcoholics, softly broken men, men with mental disorders – we loved them as they were. We did not try to recruit them to attend a church. We spent time with them, made them dinner, and listened. We did not encourage them to AA or NA, or attending the local mental health outpatient facility – unless they truly brought up the subject. We closed in prayer… if they wished to join in, they could. Though we moved from that area, the men have yet to forget us, and sometimes call us to ‘check on us and see if we are ok’.

    Listening, and joining in, is a far more powerful ‘intervention’ than many other models of therapy. When Jesus joined Matthew the Tax Collecdtor at the party given for Jesus, I see an intervention model of ‘I believe in you, Matthew’ and ‘you, Matthew, and your friends, are all worth my time’, and ‘I am in your house – your territory – celebrating with you, Matthew.’ Those are very powerful messages that go far beyond the classical ‘intervention’ model commonly espoused by people that wish to avoid deep contact with those outsiders.

    Please take care in how the ‘intervention model’ is defined… it is ok to use Jesus’ definition and example, really.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Gary

    Brigitte may I ask why you felt inclined to attack me personally in this way this evening? When I comment on your posts it is to discuss a point you have made, sometimes even to challenge it. You almost always respond with personal attacks which only reveal your immaturity. But this is nothing but pure contempt spewed forth. Seriously Brigitte? Is this how Luther taught you to behave?

    It is no wonder why you invite the rebuke of so many on here.

  • Gary

    Oh and BTW – In case you missed it comments of praise for David”s work hit this blog with great regularity by a large number of people who appreciate his work as I do.

  • I think that our differences here are largely those of emphasis and of perspective. Because of my life, my experiences, and my encounters, when I read David’s cartoon (saw? do you really read a picture?) it immediately made me think of the voice I hear so often in society at large (as opposed to the church in particular). I have seen people use the words of Jesus “judge not” as a shield to allow themselves to participate in whatever destructive behaviors they feel like indulging in, (including child neglect, spousal abuse, drug abuse, fraud, and adultery). I hear an entire generation looking at God and shouting “I’m gonna live my life how I want to; you can’t tell me what to do!”

    Your life, experiences, and encounters lead you to see something different in David’s cartoon. Many are reminded of abusive church members who have used love as coercive leverage to garner control and power. They may be immediately drawn to stand up against those abusers and say “You can’t mediate God to us! You can’t monopolize the Spirit! You can’t kidnap Christ!”

    I think we may be closer in thought than we at first seem to be. I think the trick is in realizing that both of our lives and our encounters are valid; and that each perspective is a valuable window into reality. We need to somehow hold them both together, stand up against sin in all its forms, whatever kind of abuse, whatever sheep’s clothing the wolves use, whatever banner it may march under.

  • Carol

    I have known quite a few nature mystics who are blown away by the beauty of Nature; but seem to have no awareness that Mother Nature also has a “disordered” dark side. St. Paul reminds us that nature, too, is in need of *redemption* and we don’t need Revelation to realize that nature is often “red in tooth and claw.”

    Although it might sadden the romantic idealists among us, the reality is that Mother Nature is a bitch goddess. She doesn’t have the least interest in our god-given human hunger for meaning and transcendent values all Mother Nature cares about is the survival of the species which requires getting the DNA from one generation to the next and providing for the young until they are self-sufficient enough to sustain their own lives and we are the venue.

    That means that, instinctively (although usually subconsciously, occasionally with conscious intent), males are seeking a domestic/sex slave (Oedipal complex) and females are seeking a meal ticket (Electra complex). That is why physical beauty in women (breasts and hips) are so attractive to males and wealth and power is an aphrodesiac for many women, while *love* is blind to the warning signs of a disordered personality.

    Grace alone seems to have the power to free us from nature’s deterministic instincts; but that doesn’t mean that the wisdom and freedom to become fully human in the sense of being able to discern and choose more god-like behavior is easily achieved or sustained. It requires a consistent, often painful, examination of conscience with the welfare of others as well as ourselves in mind and the self-discipline not to pursue our own self-interest or pursue pleasure at the expense of others even though our survival instincts predispose us to do just that.

    The classical Protestant doctrine of *Grace Alone* may initially sound god-honoring; but it is actually denial of the God’s promise to heal disordered minds, emotions and wills. As St. Paul puts it, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

    Grace is mystical, not magical. It does not cure our ills without our cooperation, freeing us from all responsibility in the process of becoming more god-like in our thinking, feeling and acting. God is the Great Physician, not the Great Magician.

    “Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.” –Simone Weil

    “We are certainly in a common class with the beasts; every action of animal life is concerned with seeking bodily pleasure and avoiding pain.” ~Saint Augustine

    “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” –Saint Augustine

    “God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.” –St. Augustine

    “Who can map out the various forces at play in one soul? Man is a great depth, O Lord. The hairs of his head are easier by far to count than his feeling, the movements of his heart.”
    ~Saint Augustine

    “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like”. ~Saint Augustine

  • Carol

    Perhaps the key is our motive for wanting to encourage others to change. Is it to make our life more pleasurable, less challenging? or is it to make the beloved’s life more less tragic, more meaningful?

  • Carol

    Perhaps the key is our motive for wanting to encourage others to change. Is it to make our life more pleasurable, less challenging? or is it to make the beloved’s life less tragic, more meaningful?

  • Carol


    We have both expressed displeasure with Gary for being too critical of others.

    Now you take issue with him for being too “laudatory”! Isn’t that a bit of a mixed message you are sending?

    Yes, it would be wonderful if we “helped each other to do the right thing.” The problem is that we tend to live up to, or down to, the image of ourselves that we see reflected in the eyes of others. I’ll take a “laudatory commentator” any day over a “derogatory commentator” who is always carping on others’ faults and failings that s/he perceives as annoying or challenging to a comfortably familiar worldview.

    I believe that there should be zero tolarance for predatory behavior; but love demands us to overlook a lot of “little things” that, when blown out of proportion, have the cummulative power to kill the initial shallow attraction/ love with which all relationships begin. It is by focusing on the “redeeming qualities” rather than the annoying peculiarities that mature love is created.

    We live in a society that encourages us to be pro-active change agents who produce immediate results whenever a problem arises. That sort of thinking is toxic in relationships, especially since the “problem” often lies in our own perception rather than in another’s behavior.

  • Carol

    It is always a mistake to attempt to fight someone else’s daemons for them and that is what many so-called interventions do.

    Of course, it is less painful to project our own daemons onto someone else and make their lives rather than our own the battlefield.

    Effective counseling usually begins with teaching us to compassionately embrace, without indulging, our “dark side”. Personality traits that are “noble” within one set of circumstances, can be “dark” under other circumstances. The hero on the battlefield is often the abuser in the home. That is why discernment, not self-hatred, is the necessary ingredient for a healthy life.

    Religion that defines what it means to be human by beginning with Original Sin rather than the biblical model which begins with Original Blessing is so destructive.

    The “glories and miseries of man(kind)” have been the grist for great philosophers, theologians and the writers of literary classics for millenia. What makes for their “greatness” is the balance they have achieved between these two complementary opposite truths.

    As some have recognized: We are perfect, but there is always room for improvement.

    “The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Gary

    “I believe that there should be zero tolarance for predatory behavior;”

    I am very glad to hear this Carol.

  • Carol

    Unfortunately predatory behavior, like beauty and pornography, is in the mind of the beholder.

    Which is another reason why we can share how we feel and why; but can’t be impute motives or be dogmatic except for the most obvious predatory acts like murder, rape, physical assault–those things that have been criminalized by enforceable laws, laws that have the support of an overwhelming public consensus.

  • I really like what you’ve said here Carol. I have often thought that some nature idealists are a bit naive and don’t have a very good understanding of the ruthless nature of Nature.

    If I hear you correctly, you seem to be saying that our survivalist instincts are powerful motivating factors that push us towards self-interest at the expense of others. You’re saying that the urge to procreate as efficiently and effectively as possible pushes us to ignore our own long term welfare and the welfare of those around us.

    You also seem to be headed toward the point of saying that these factors are so powerful that it is hard for an individual to overcome them on his/her own; but that we need, first and foremost, the grace of God, as well as the loving hands of others to help us. I could not agree more.

    So, then, the question is how a community of grace can encourage helpful and loving accountability without encouraging spiritual abuse and manipulative coercion. I believe that we have established that there are definitely times when it is needed for us humans to take a stand against one another and our destructive suvivalists and hedonistic impulses; and it is also needed that we give each other grace and stand back to allow each other to believe and act as we wish. Is it possible to systemically encourage both of these needed actions?

  • Brigitte

    Here we go again.

  • Gary

    Indeed. The question was WHY you insisted on attacking me all over again. It was personal and totally unprovoked.

  • you don’t think there is any place for friendly, gracious, humble and loving stands against behavior that you think may be predatory but is ambiguous? Or is it more that you’ve never or rarely seen this done properly? If I see someone running off a metaphorical cliff, and they don’t realize it, I would hope that I’d be courageous enough to at least say something to let them know what I’m seeing. I think I would be remiss to just let them jump without letting them know why I think it’s a cliff.

  • Carol

    Of course, there is a place for a caring “heads up” as the ad states, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Is there a difference between expressing concern and criticism? Do we sometimes confuse the two?

  • Caryn LeMur

    Well, in the interest of honesty, I must admit that I just finished a conversation wherein I recommended that an adult male testify against his addicted adult brother. The addicted brother stated that he would kill himself, and was driven to ER. In ER it was found that Oxycoton was in the blood. At the home, it was found that the addicted brother was stealing the drug from a dying father…. and that the addicted brother (who is in his 40’s) has ‘moved in with his parents’ for the last several years.

    And so, in light of the frail parents, in light of a history of stealing from parents, I recommended that the adult male take a stand against the addicted brother, and insist that before the addicted brother can move back into the parent’s home, that the addicted brother complete a rehab program.

    This is probably the second intervention I have recommended in over 2 years. I do so with a heavy heart, because the mother of the addict may be a willing victim. Thus, rehab only serves as a message that the fellow adult brother will no longer tolerate the parental abuse by the addicted brother… however, the mother believes there is no abuse… the drugs somehow disappeared… it cannot be her (addicted) son that has been trying to sell her belongings on ebay…

    Who needs the intervention? I vote that 2 people, in this case need it. Yet, neither is willing to change. And so, this ‘intervention’ is really for the conscience of the adult brother….

    sometimes… sometimes… I find it easier to love the addicts that abuse themselves in the tents of the woods, than to love the addicts that are abusers of other people. At this moment, the world seems far more ugly than it did but a day or two ago.

    Much love in Christ always… but today, I cannot truly say that my love is unconditional… the pending cycle of tragedy is too great. Caryn

  • Carol

    Of course your love is not unconditional, you are not God. God doesn’t expect us to be God. In fact that is the Original [and perpetual] Sin, wanting to be as God, free from the limitations of our own finite humanity and the constraints of life’s circumstances.

    God only asks us to be as god-like as we can be given our own particular strengths and weaknesses and within the circumstances imposed by temporal existence.

    Jesus calls us to love others as ourselves, not to love ourselves MORE than others, but not to love ourselves LESS than others, either. We would probably not survive for very long, certainly would have little quality of life, if we did not draw and defend reasonable boundaries in this less-than-perfect, upside down, disordered world that has, in many ways, only begun the process of being healed and repaired by Grace.

    A common teaching in the Catholic Church after Vatican II was that Christ was the Sacrament of God and the Church was the sacrament of Christ. A sacrament always points beyond itself to a greater reality. If we could sustain the Unconditional, kenotic [self-sacrificial] Love for each other that God has for us and the rest of Creation, then we wouldn’t need God because we would be our own Gods.

    There will be moments when we are so surrendered to God that God can be incarnationally present in and through us; but these are special moments of infused Grace and are not sustainable, given the present evolutionary unfolding of the Mystery of Redemption.

    I would not say that you “sinned against charity” by your intervention. You stepped in to protect the interests of the most innocent and vulnerable person in this human tragedy, the dying father whose suffering is being unnecessarily increased by the theft of his pain meds. Intervention is not about blaming or punishing. The fact that you define this as a tragedy rather than emphasize the criminal aspects of the circumstances convinces me that you come from a place of grace, not law. Law is king in the city of man, but Grace rules in the Kingdom of God.

    I’m certain that mother and son both have redeeming qualities and that there are mitigating circumstances, but the vulnerable must be protected from the predatory behavior of those who pursue their disordered self-interests and desires at their expense.

    Intervention is about changing the destructive dynamics of a tragic situation and that is what you have done. But don’t expect any thanks for it. Jesus didn’t get any thanks for his intervention, at least not in the immediate short term.

    “The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them.”   ~Thomas Merton Faith and Violence

    “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”–Albert Einstein

  • Caryn,
    My heart goes out to you in this circumstance; don’t beat yourself up, and don’t give up hope. I’ve seen people who need jail to finally bottom out, so hope is not lost for the addict even if he seems cold and hard (although I’m sure you’ve seen the same). It seems that you do good to protect the father and support the brother. Know that you are prayed for and loved.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Thank you Carol and Jonathan for the kind words and encouragement.

    A bit after I read your letters, my mind recalled the sadness felt by doctors that must amputate a leg to save a soldier’s life. It is a surgery of last resort… and they often feel like they somehow failed the soldier, even though they selected a lesser tragedy (amputation) in order to avoid the greater tragedy (death).

    Carol, you are right, I am not God. Thank you for that reminder. Jonathan, you are right, I am beating myself up… I hoped to save all the soldier – the whole family – but ended up encouraging the one living core – the one brother – to do the right thing, knowing that the addict and mother are beyond my reach. Time to take my place as a ‘creature’ again created by God and recognize my limitations, and humbly pray for the Great Physician to work this tragedy out for His glory.

    Thank you again. Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Caryn LeMur

    I left a note out of my earlier posts, the father passed away earlier the same day the son was taken to ER. I thought the note too horrid to include… turns out, the reason the son went into withdrawl is that the hospice ceased bringing the pain killers that day… and the son did not find a new supply quickly enough. Thus, the Lord exposed the sin on the day of His choosing… and did not allow it to go one day farther.

    And… God moves! At the hearing, the addicted brother agreed to stay 3 days for observation. Two adult brothers showed up to testify against the addicted son… not one… sending a much stronger message to the addicted brother. The magistrate that heard the case warned the addicted brother that if either adult brother found trouble at the ‘home with the mother’, all they had to do was call 911, and the addicted brother would serve a mandatory 30 day ‘observation’. The addicted brother was further sentenced to an outpatient clinic program.

    So, here I was… so sad that I could only encourage one man… and God has encourged two non-addicted brothers, placed good boundaries on the addicted brother, and helped ensure the safety of the mother. He is indeed the Great Physician that is working this tragedy out for good. Wow….

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn