written by LA Jamison
This song is probably one of my all time favorites. I will never forget when I was in my twenties, in the gym working out at "The Shape Shop" in Vero Beach Florida. I was stuffing my loneliness and insecurities as usual and focusing on my outer shell (my body) and this song comes on. I about dropped my weights when I heard that chorus sing 'I want to know what love is". And who doesn't want to know what love is? Who doesn't long for real love from someone, anyone? Just love me for me.
From 'Jesus Loves Me', 'Can't Help Falling In Love With You", 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' to "I Will Always Love You" and "Endless Love", our music is full of heart tugs and heartbreaks around the topic love. These lyrics are so poignant:
"Now this mountain I must climb, feels like the world upon my shoulders
Through the clouds I see love shine, it keeps me warm as life grows colder
In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far, to change this lonely life
I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I don't know about you but I long for others to show me love. Even after a great experience with family members or friends, after a day or two, it seems "I want to know what love is" all over again. It can be almost like I've never known it until I once again see the sun peeking through the clouds of my soul. My own youth was fraught with a lot of rejection of which I took the knife people used and continued the cutting of myself on my own. As I grew older, people took turns with the knife and we danced a bloody dance. I came out a bloody bride.
We all suffer things we feel no one else will quite understand. All of us have our own private desperations. Ironically, we all have them but it is difficult these days to find people who really even listen or are even all that interested in our lives. I remember a lady I used to volunteer with tell me; "No one really listens, they are just waiting for you to stop so they can talk more about themselves". It is sad but true for the most part and even I am not innocent.
Listening is loving. People don't realize this. Listening and asking people questions about their life is loving. I feel my mom and sister exemplify this as do others in my family and it is partly why I am often content being at home rather than skimming the surface of conversations where the motive is to be heard, not to hear. We could all have such richer lives by listening and inquiring more about those around us. If you want to be heard, start by hearing because you model something others will admire.
This song also touches me because I'm aware of heartache and pain after 40 something years of living with my heart too predominantly on my sleeve. I honestly don't know that I can face much more of it, as the lyrics cry out too. And truly, the reason I do go on is I really have "traveled so far" to change this life, to make an impact as I feel I am called to do. Sometimes I too feel I can't face another day of this world.., but I call out and the sunlight peers through the clouds of the sky in my soul and I receive hope again.
I don't want to beat a dead horse here but being gay for me has not been a rose garden. Many of you may know my story (Discoveries in the Closet) . I'm not sure newer generations coming up will ever know (and I hope they don't, but still somehow appreciative) what is like to be spoken to and pushed around as a deplorable "fag" while hoping to the God above you are not one.., and then coming to realize you are. The realization that you are everything everyone mocked you for being and now your main operation is figuring out how to keep it a secret. Maybe, just maybe, I will change. On top of that, knowing that you know, that you KNOW, the God of the Bible you follow, worship, tell and judge others with has condemned you. You are trapped in a belief of your own making and set for the lake of fire unless you change. It is a burden that warps the soul. Thrusting yourself, and trusting yourself upon people who are wardens of a theological doctrine of subtle condemnation is the final nail in a soul's coffin.
To that end, I introduce you to a movie called "Come Sunday" based on a true story. Here is the trailer:
The Bishop Carleton Pierceson of whom this movie is about was a pastor I would watch on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. There were many I watched back in the day. My Christian counselor at the time advised me to leave the network playing as much as I could. I never really liked TBN that much but I did what he advised because the counselor was a help to me in other ways. I looked up to him. Today he would no doubt see him as a heretic. This movie was powerful for me in a number ways.
The way in which Bishop Pierceson suffers because of the value he holds on truth and love really escalates as the movie carries on. Most church people today equate their church's "truth" and their reading of the Bible as "truth", to the definition of "love". At the beginning of the film, the pastor proclaims that his love for everyone is based on the fact that "The Bible and Jesus tells me to love everyone". But, real love doesn't come about that way. Real love comes about via experience, both good and traumatic. Pretentious forms of love come about because 'the Bible told me so'. We see this pastor's love change through experience and out of this pretentiousness. I personally find a lot of the "love" church folk offer as no different to the care a car salesman has in putting me into a vehicle that works for me. The church folk in this film often feel justified in their "love" of "truth" on the judgments that they make on others and the world. Thank goodness more churches are becoming progressive and truly loving but many stay the same. The minister confronts this head on and it shatters him as he witnesses the tragic lives of others. He cannot reconcile a God and people who are so judgmental and full of conditions with a God of unconditional love. As soon as he begins giving the good news that God's love is for all, people leave his side like "bats out of hell". The Church rapidly empties over the next few Sundays. Why? Because as the Bishop states, we have a difficult time putting in the effort to love. Religion is often a clever disguise for our self-hate that extends to hating others. I would add to the Bishop's statement, we have a difficult time being vulnerable enough to love "even the least of these".
What really got my goose in this film was a gay man named Reggie. To watch the Bishop come full circle from judging Reggie into being compelled by compassion to embrace this man, made me tear up. When they sing a song together as both of them are at the end of their rope in their lives, I lost it. I just lost it.
It was then that I realized even though I'm not in the church ring presently, the one who I want to show me their love is God. I was taught about a God with conditions on love. God the salesman. Buy what I have to offer, become a person under these conditions or literally go to hell. And as I watched the embittered, desperate, true heart of Reggie, I realized that I was Reggie too. So in some sense, when that pastor sang that song with him, "Jesus Loves Me", I felt he was singing it to me too--all the hypocritical ministers of the past.
I really want people to love me too. I hope one day the love of one man and my love for him will become one. I dance with my desire for solitude and the bitch of loneliness in a world that is too distracted and too self-absorbed to care a whole lot. I know I'm not alone though. I also know we are limited as people in the love we can give. Myself included. Therefore, if I have not self-love or know that God loves me, no one can fill that void. It's impossible. But God's love is there but for the asking. I imagine even the best of us try to get love, or the sense of love, out of so many things that aren't able to quench our thirst. So I have to imagine that God is the love we are waiting for. I pray that God continues to show that love to me and to you too.