The other day I wrote a post about one of my favorite ships and I touched on some subjects I thought it would be nice to expand on.
Here’s an excerpt from the post Stand By You that contains what I wanted to talk about more:
“But Juvia acts out of her strong love for Gray and manages to convey a lot without knowing she’s doing it. She fights for him, and is always there whenever he does choose to open up. Sometimes it’s simply that she does the right thing by accident that seems to mean the most to Gray, because she wasn’t trying to make him see a point, she just honestly wanted to help.
There’s a time to teach someone, but there is a time to just be there, and love them however you can.
And I like the additional message that love is messy and we aren’t smooth about it all the time, but our honest efforts rings the most true to people.
It’s beautiful. And its not something you have to be an expert on relationships to do, that’s the great part, you can start off knowing nothing, and still be able to do this.”
What I mentioned here was that Juvia and Gray are not really experts at love.
That gives me hope at least, because I am far from an expert at love.
I write about it a lot, I talk about it, I can give theories and examples, but at the end of the day, love is what you practice, not what you preach.
I’d like to talk about a couple different aspects of love this ship made me think of, and that I’ve also noticed in my own life.
First, Love is Pure.
Love has to be pure, first and foremost, or it will be hollow.
In my own life, I have a parent who is great about saying he loves me, giving me all kinds of praise, and verbal affirmation.
And he would berate me for not being satisfied with that.
Red flag, by the way, to anyone who does this with someone they know. If you are criticizing someone for not receiving your praise…that’s part of the reason they don’t receive your praise. It’s a bit of an oxymoronic thing to do.
The reason I didn’t like my father’s praise was that there was nothing behind it. He might call me good things, but he didn’t know any of the good things I really was. He didn’t often ask me about my life, and when he did, if I told him, he’d make the conversation about something he wanted to talk about.
He didn’t know what I liked, or what I hated. He didn’t know who my friends were, for the most part.
And, he wouldn’t do anything to back up those words.
My father’s love was not pure because it was not honest, it was based on an idea of himself and me that wasn’t accurate. And if I did not line up, I would be punished with coldness or criticism.
I find this is too common in human beings. We tend to want things on our terms when we give love. We’ll go so far, and no further. If it’s not received well, we pull back.
Juvia, on the other hand, is never daunted by how well she is received. To the point where you might almost call her inconsiderate. But not really. If you look more closely you’ll notice Juvia does not ever put more on Gray than Gray can handle, even if it makes him feel a little awkward, he’s not mortified. If he shows it bothers him, she’ll pull back a bit (in most cases, as I mentioned, the show uses it for humor.)
Second, Love is Abundant
Juvia pours her whole self into loving in the wonky way she does. It’s not always graceful or subtle, it’s extravagant, open, and overwhelming.
But, deep down, doesn’t every person want to be loved that way?
The truth is, if you don’t like being loved like that, it’s certain you have issues.
I don’t say that to judge, since it’s one of my own problems to not receive love as well as I wish.
We were made for extravagant love. In fact, as the Bible describes it, there is no such thing as love that is not like an ocean, an all consuming passion. The Bible doesn’t call a fleeting fancy love.
Love may not be a feeling always, but even the action of love is a full on commitment. Whether you feel the warm, fuzzy stuff, you are supposed to pour yourself out however you can.
Paul wrote of his ministry “I am being poured out like a drink offering.” (2 Timothy 4:6)
David also said “I am poured out like water” in Psalm 22:14, which is a prophecy of how Jesus would pour himself out on the cross, the highest act of love.
Fitting that Juvia’s power is literally being water.
It is daring to love in this manner.
People are broken, many more so than Gray, and they rarely know how to accept love, let alone how to return it.
And that leads to the third thing: Love is long-suffering.
Juvia waits a very long time to get what she wants, at least when you’re in love, it feels like a long time, doesn’t it? And yet, it also doesn’t.
In Genesis, one of my favorite Bible love stories is how Jacob worked 14 years for his wife Rachael, and the writer tells us that his love for her made it seem like a short time.
How valued must Rachael have felt, right?
Wrong, actually. Rachael had insecurities she took out on Jacob even after such devotion. She wasn’t satisfied with human love.
It’s just a part of life, that the people we love cannot be happy solely on our love, even if it makes them happier.
Jacob continued to love Rachael till the day she died, and treasured the sons he had with her more than his other children. In the end, he told her to take her problem to God, not him.
A wise thing to say.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to stand by them and let them go to God. Something my family has implemented with my dad lately.
Juvia also does this for Gray. She wishes to be able to help him at all times, but sometimes she has to trust him and do her part in other places.
If you’ve noticed I’ve used only Juvia for an example here, well, she’s my favorite.
But Gray does bring something worth mentioning to the table also:
Gray, like many men, and many women, does not really understand Juvia all that well at first and makes plenty of errors on that account. He also does not know how to respond to her love, and often tries to push it away.
But the thing Gray does right, that is beautiful in its humility, is stick around for it.
Instead of avoiding Juvia, Gray spends time around her and gradually learns to be more receptive. He is uncomfortable without being dismissive entirely.
And the thing is, as flawed humans, if we’re totally honest with ourselves, sometimes our most loving act is simply to hold still and let ourselves be loved.
Most especially with God, but I’ve hurt people by pulling away from their embraces, and I know I’ve been hurt by people rejecting my efforts at loving them.
I know that sometimes I really do have to force myself not to run, sometimes all I can do is sit there and just not run. I may not even be able to ask for what I need, but I can stay, and give someone the chance to help me.
Gray screws up a lot, and he feels ashamed… but in the end, he lets himself be comforted and adored. He probably can’t express how grateful he is, but he accepts it as much as he can.
A little tip to guys, if you have a decent girlfriend or wife, than the most kind thing you can do for her sometimes is just let her take care of you. It’s like magic in a woman, we feel better when we do that. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, let her do it.
I’m guessing some men feel the same way. (Obviously I don’t mean being condescended to, I think most people can tell the difference on their own.)
There is so much more to say, but I don’t want to make this too long.
I think I covered the central part anyway.
Something I apply to myself, I want to keep on loving even if I’m not requited. Even if the kind of love I feel has to change with the situation, the point is never to stop loving.
I may talk about that more another time, but for now, stay honest–Natasha.