I Want to Know What Love Is
If you are having present thoughts about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right now.
The song “I Want To Know What Love Is” by the rock group Foreigner is an amazing lesson in art imitating life. The song, which dates back to 1984, is a song I have heard a number of times. However, it was recently when I heard the lyrics at the end of an episode of the the TV show “Cold Case” did it hit my soul in a way like never before. God actually spoke to me through those lyrics, and I knew without a doubt I had to write about them. Ironically, and perhaps not accidentally, that episode was about a teenage boy who was kind and thoughtful, who may have been gay, and who was brutally murdered. So I was emotionally invested in the story already, and when the song came on at the end of the show, it hit me like a pile of bricks! I could not let this moment pass by unnoticed.
There was a time in my young homosexual life that I really should have taken these lyrics to heart had they been written before I decided to end my life. At age 20 I, as I am sure many other young homosexuals have, decided one night I had had enough and that I was going to end my life. I was headstrong and determined to end the “heartache and pain” that I was experiencing. My homosexuality was going to end with my imminent suicide.
Here's how the song looks at love, and how I look at the lyrics (song lyrics in the blue boxes):
The problem with me was when I was thinking about ending my life I was unable to read between the lines. I was so hung up on myself and my own dilemma (contributed in large part to the huge problem with pride that I had at that time) that I couldn't imagine that there were any lines to read between. I couldn't imagine that there was more to all of this than what just appeared before me at the time. I was very lonely and unhappy, I knew that death would at least end this earthly unhappiness, and so was determined to take that route. God, as it turns out, had other plans for my life that took a while to unfold.
At the time I wanted to end everything, life was a huge mountain before me. It was something that I couldn't imagine climbing, much less being victorious over. The world was on my shoulders and I felt completely alone and completely as if life didn't matter. The problem for me was through the clouds where God lives at the time I could not see love shining. I could not even see God. And I couldn't imagine God's love keeping me warm as life grows colder. I could only see life being colder and harsher and more painful with each passing day. The loneliness was only going to get worse until I finally got enough guts to pull the plug and end it all.
I absolutely believed at the time that there was no way in heaven or earth that I would live to age 21 just a few months down the line. Could I possibly have imagined at the time that God was watching over me and loved me dearly and this was the exact same God who created the Andromeda Galaxy and all the stars in the sky, and He wanted me to live and not end my life? I was totally clueless! I thank God that at the lowest point in my whole life He was there, watching me, telling me in that small quiet voice that my purpose in life is not my own pleasure, but His. Was I willing to listen to Him? And through some yet unknown miracle of the Holy Spirit He put me into a deep sleep at the point where I planned to end it all. What He told me in that sleep I do not know, but that when I awoke many hours later I knew that something had changed, and at least I needed to live one more day. Many years later I still get chills up my spine when I think back to that day I decided to give up, and God refused to give up on me. Why I lived and yet many others did not I will never know in this life.
The next stanza (above) in some ways summarized my life as a 20-year-old planning on ending it all because he couldn't handle the conflict between his homosexuality and his desire to love God. My life at that time was full of heartache and pain, and the struggle of doing well in college under that pressure only made things worse. And I honestly didn't know if I could face the heartache and pain of every day even one more day. I decided one day that the heartache and pain was too great and that God would certainly not give me enough strength to get by. "Sorry, God, but I believe that the 'hand of cards' that You have dealt me is way too hard to play," so I planned to fold before even all the cards in my hand had been revealed. Therefore I planned to take matters into my own hands and seek to end this life full of heartache and pain caused primarily (I believe) by my struggle with homosexuality and inability to give or receive love.
The point is that I should have realized that I certainly can't stop now (at age 20) because I've traveled so far in life. I had survived 20 years, and I was going to throw it all away as if it was just a old newspaper? I had trouble believing that I should keep going. I had survived 20 years on this planet and was in reasonably good physical health and had no reason from a physical standpoint to end my existence—but yet I wanted to. I now understand why. It was because I was so into myself, I was so into what pleasures I wanted from life, I couldn't possibly see outside of myself to others around me or much less toward God. I wanted everyone to love me, but did not want to love others unless it was for selfish purposes. That's the brutal truth that I now see with amazing clarity that was impossible at the time because my vision was so fogged by my ego and pride.
I would be lying if I did not admit the thought of killing myself at age 20 was in part to punish God for not giving me what I wanted or felt I deserved. I felt so out of control of the events in my life that I felt that by ending my life I finally would have control, at least for a moment. The problem is, if somebody wants to control his life, God will let him do it. Unfortunately in nearly every case he will totally screw things up because we as humans make terrible decisions about our lives when we exclude God from the equation. I wanted to hurt God because I felt He had shortchanged me in life. How dare He allow me to have to deal with my homosexuality! Glorify God? You gotta be kidding! I thought the only way I can hurt God is by destroying myself. In spite of my rebellion against God, He still continued to love me even though He would've been fully justified in blasting me into the next dimension. What patience God must have in order to allow someone like me to get by with stuff like that. How undeserving I was of God's love at the time, yet He continued to shower me with His love and protection. Truly that is a fact that is hard for my human mind to fully comprehend!
And of course to me the key stanza in this song is this one:
You see, at the time that “you” in those lines would have for me at age 20 referred to another human being. Actually it would've referred to the knight in shining armor that I was looking to come into my life and make it so much better (it never happened). I wanted to have all to myself the gay good looking popular guy who would love and accept me and make life worth living for a change. When I would hear that particular stanza on the “oldies” station from time to time, I did not understand that the first word of each of those four lines is “I” and the significance of that.
One of the problems in my life in my homosexuality has been my tendency to always look at life from the “I” point of view. I want this, I want that, I want you to love me! It was all about what I wanted and nothing about what God wanted. Or even what another human wanted or needed. Because of that “I-centric” life, God said there is not room in my life for two gods but only one, and I would ultimately have to choose between the god of this life (self-centered pleasures) or the Lord God Almighty. The two could not live in harmony in my life, which is true of any human being. In mathematical language, the two are mutually exclusive.
We've all heard the somewhat trite phrase that in the word “team” there is not the letter “I”. Coaches often use this to encourage their players to think not about themselves but about the team and the goals of the team. Well I'm here to tell you that there may be an “I” in “life” but there is no “I” in “God.” I have to admit that most of the most popular people that I have come across in my life are people who seldom used the word “I.” That is not a coincidence. Think about it. If you want to be more popular, just eliminate the word “I” from your vocabulary and it will do wonders for your social life! And even more importantly, your spiritual life!
Over the years there has been a really big change in my life such that now when I hear that song such as I did on the TV show, I quietly add a little something that changes its meaning to make it more meaningful and relevant to me. I now add the word “Lord” after “you”. The “you” is no longer referring to a gay lover or my knight in shining armor, but to the God of the universe who knows everything about love and is willing to share it with me, the lowliest of the low. So now to me the lyrics are asking the Lord God to teach me what love is. And who better to teach about love than the Lord God Almighty who is the source of all love in the universe? Apart from God, there is no love. Period.
Toward the end of the song there is a stanza that is meaningful to me when I use it to talk to the Lord God Almighty:
(my additions are in brackets)
This nearly turns the song from a rock melody into a hymn! This is truly a beautiful song three decades after it first was released to the public. And now that I can apply that song to my relationship not with a gay lover but rather to none other than the Lord God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, the One who is the source of all love and all everlasting relationships. In this new light, it is an even more beautiful song to me.
If you have ever been tempted with thoughts of suicide caused by your having to deal with your homosexuality I know exactly where you're coming from and have a tremendous amount of empathy with where you are right now. Like the song says you have come way too far to give up at this point. You've made huge progress in living this long, how can you possibly think of throwing all of that away when your Lord God Almighty wishes to touch your life if you'd let Him.
When I listen to that song it becomes evident to me that I'm no longer the only human on earth who wants to know what love is. Virtually every human being wants to know what love is, and wants to experience love. God made you and me first of all to bring to Him the glory that is due to Him, and secondly to allow us to have a loving relationship with Him in spite of the flaws caused by the fall of man in his rebellion against God.
It is sad but true that perfect love in this life for human beings will never exist. But the good news is, you will possibly experience perfect love should you make it into the realm of God's holy place we call Heaven. You see, love in Heaven is perfect. It is not selfish, it does not seek to serve oneself, and such perfect love is something that is extremely hard, actually impossible for us humans to fully understand and grasp. But I dearly look forward to the day when I will be able to experience perfect and true love. What an amazing experience and awesome day that will be. To feel God's perfect love is something I look forward to with huge anticipation.
I invite you to enjoy that song as I do. But I invite you every time you hear the word “you” that you add “Lord” after that to put the lyrics into correct perspective. It turns out that many songs written by guys towards girls can have new meaning and new life when that song is directed towards God because after all shouldn't our love of God be even more powerful or awesome and more complete than our love toward any other human being?
By the way, in case you were wondering, I did live to see 21 and many years beyond that. It's possible that that many years ago even before the Internet that God had this web site in mind and He knew that if I ended my life at age 20 on that fateful September night that this website would not exist today. I know that God intervened supernaturally and kept me from ending my life and have some ideas why that happened, but will probably never fully comprehend the reasons in this life.
I'm very thankful that God intervened and kept me from ending my life during those fateful days. May I strive to continue to glorify Him until the day that I leave this planet to experience “what love is” firsthand from the Author and Creator of love.
If by any chance you are thinking of exiting this life, take some advice from me and Foreigner and realize you can't stop now, you've traveled too far and you need to change this lonely life into one that glorifies God and helps to make you complete in Christ. I mean, after all, you have not even looked at all the cards you have been dealt in this life for Heaven's sake! If you are a gay teenager and want to exit (you know who you are, but I do not), how can you possibly throw away your few years of life experience and the potential to experience God's amazing love if you can be just patient enough for Him to work according to His schedule and not yours? You've come this far. You don't have to go the rest of the way alone! Don't give up! And yes, there should be chills up your spine when you read this if I'm describing you, for it is God's way of reaching you when perhaps nothing else has worked.
The same God who created the Whirlpool Galaxy and every molecule in the universe is watching over you and dearly wants you to hang in there so He can, in His good time, reveal to you the course that He would like you to follow if you wish to glorify the One who made you. Stick around, dude. God is certainly not done with you yet! He will provide you the opportunity to glorify Him and bring renown to His holy name! But not if you take the emergency exit out. As I write this I ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to seek knowledge and wisdom to hang in there and seek to know He Who made you. I know there is at least one person who came across this page and needs to heed God's leading in his life. Are you him? Did God compel me to write this page just for you? If so, it's worth it!
If you really want to “know what love is,” turn your eyes and your life toward Jesus Christ and He will help you understand what it is all about both in this life and the one to come.
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