Love-Hate Relationship

love hate relationship

2 Samuel 13:15 After this, Amnon hated Tamar with such intensity that the hatred he hated her with was greater than the love he had loved her with. “Get out of here! ” he said.

About two years ago, I remember being cautioned by a good friend and pastor. I was having lunch with him and was sharing my excitement at the possibility of buying a piece of property on a beautiful river with a house and four cabins. I’m pretty sure his warning was elicited when I said “It’s what my wife has always wanted.” Almost sternly, he responded “I don’t subscribe to the notion that life is better by living in a ‘dreamy’ place.”

At one time or another, haven’t we all said it? “I would love to live there.” Or maybe for that thing, “I would love to have that.” Some would say it’s just a misuse of the word “love”. On one hand, I agree. It’s not love, but rather a desire to experience. Amnon wanted to experience Tamar. On the other, from an accounting perspective, the desire to experience can be so strong as to demand an emotional and soulful investment equating to that of love.  If love could be defined as the extent to which one’s heart is spent on something or someone, then maybe we understand how Amnon “loved” Tamar, but then raped her.

You can only spend your heart on so much. It’s like an emotional bank account. Where are you investing your heart, your mind, your soul, your emotions?

A small expenditure of emotional interest in a person may cause you to ask for his or her phone number. A moderate mental and emotional investment may cause you to creep the person’s Facebook then look up her number in and leave her a message…twice. Infatuation with someone or something represents a soulful and emotional expenditure that equates to love but is actually a desire to experience and a desire so strong that it causes people to act in the most reprehensible ways. (Adultery, rape, jealous murder)

Love is like a major investment being withdrawn from the account of your heart. And when a desire to experience something masquerades as love, we’ll spend much more of our heart, soul and emotional reserve on it, leading to all sorts of desperate acts to attain it. It could be unsustainable debt, lying, cheating or stealing to have it… to experience it. But if we have overspent, overinvested our souls to get it, then once we have it… we hate it.

Consider addiction. The desire to experience the euphoria or what might otherwise be called a “numbed reality” is an experience for which the addict will go to great lengths. That person will hurt family members, steal from strangers, betray friends all because “I’d love to have a drink right now.” Once the experience has come and ended, they hate that for which they had confessed love and often end up yelling like Amnon at that for which they had longed, “Get out of here!”

It’s a love-hate relationship.

I’ve read some psychology blurbs about love-hate relationships. Don’t bother. God’s got it right here, revealing it to us in this story of a man who invested his soul to experience something. And just like the addict and any of us who succumb to this devilish draw, it’s not the act that we hate and maybe not even the after-effects, but rather the realization of what desperation we went through, and what we spent to get it. That’s what makes us hate it.

Wherever your heart is invested, there will you also invest your treasure. So whatever worldly thing it is, don’t spend your soul like you love it or you’ll hate it when you get it.

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