30 March 2009

Likeable and Liked, or Loved and Loving

I suppose it is a given that everyone wants to be liked. Tonight I'm pondering the possibility that we much prefer to be liked than to be loved.

To be loved, in the best sense of the word, is to receive the grace of another, and to be covered with forgiveness for the daily faults and failings of life.

But if I am liked suggests that there is something likeable about me, and inherently worthwhile; which appeals to my sinful ego in a way that being loved and forgiven does not.

In truth, we live by the grace of God, by the love with which He loves us freely in Christ Jesus; not by any merit or worthiness in us, but solely by His divine goodness and mercy. Understanding that informs, also, the way I relate to my neighbors in the world; that I would not simply like the likeable fellas and gals that I encounter, but that I would love and gladly serve and cover with forgiveness the unpleasant, grumpy and irritating.


Susan said...

Yep, I prefer being liked to being loved. That's because being liked means I've earned the person's affection. Being loved is ultimately better, but it means admitting my unworthiness. I've really been struggling with this distinction the last year, knowing that I prefer being liked, but knowing that I can't measure up and keep meriting what has made me likable to my loved ones.

I wonder sometimes if I should quit telling my kids and my husband that I like them.

sarahlaughed said...

This has been on my mind as well lately - especially since we've been discussing the "I-It" "I-Thou" philosophy of Martin Buber in class. Taking a "Thou" attitude toward someone involves the risk of being called upon to help and requires that one stand in relation to the other person in such a way that you do not possess or take them or anything from them. To tie things together, I have a suspicion that Buber would say that "liking" is an "I-It" relationship of an subject to an object and thus is "safe" while "loving" is an "I-Thou" relationship of beings with beings and thus involves a reciprocal risk and a movement of the being to help the other. (Yeah, I didn't paraphrase very clearly...hm)

At any rate, Buber's interesting and worth discussing sometime...