We all have some recollection of a big dinosaur from our childhood. The colors purple and green always seem to bring him to mind and his grin from ear to ear brought us much joy as children.
Our fuzzy friend Barney, who we all grew fond as children, had a something greater to share than just a good time with us. The classic, “I love you, you love me” song became a staple of our young lives, but where along the lines did we lose this simplistic, no strings attached sort of love.
I’ve been listening to a modern rendition of Barney’s infamous song called “Purple Dinosaur” by nobigdyl. Here is a little taste…
…She say that love’s not just a verb no it’s an action verb
But I’ve been thinkin that it’s linkin or a passive word
Somethin the world be actin like it’s lackin that’s for sure
I’ve been scratchin all my nappies tryna see what makes you happy
I’ve been rappin for the love and peace but I guess that’s absurd
Cause radio be playin rappers that be trappin birds
But baby I know why the caged bird sings
Cause only love can make the type of bells that freedom rings…
Love is such a difficult word nowadays as it finds itself caught between the tangible and intangible.
I think our simplistic view of love relies on its tangible nature. Love to us as kids was a hug and kiss from mom, dad cooking burgers out back, or a kiss from lil’ sis. We could touch it, hear it, see it. We clung tight to this love for a long time, it was easy, it didn’t require us to be something special…it just was.
As we grew up, love grew up too. It began to take its intangible shape—something we would all struggle to understand. Like nobigdyl says, “it changed from a verb to an action verb.” We became the ones who loved and had to love hard. That once fond verbal and physical love became somewhat of a distant thought as we were faced with the challenge of loving others. We were called to love when it was hard to love, to love our enemy, to love in a broken world—ultimately, we were called to do love.
Doing love is not easy; it’s quite messy actually. It can seem like strings are attached and it can feel forced. It may not always go as planned or look how you thought it would. And it’s not always something you can tangibly feel, but its intangible sense to you becomes tangible to the ones you share it with.
In our society today, it appears that people crave a simplistic love. Something we can touch, see, or hear is much easier to love; yet we find ourselves unsatisfied in the world we live in. Doing love is something that can’t always be felt, seen, or heard, but it can have one of the most powerful effects on our lives.
As Christians, we are called to this higher order of love. Doing love is something beautiful and so special from God. It will be messy, tiring, confusing, tough, and much, much more, but that’s the beauty of it. Love isn’t defined of confined to a small box, its boundless.
So where does this leave us?
I think my original question of “Where did we lose our idea of simplistic love?” could be better asked as “When did we gain this beautifully complex picture of love?” You see, we never lost that idea of simplistic love, we simply used it as our foundation. Our being loved with no inhibition, grew into our ability to do love. Loving as an action verb is no doubt tough, complicated, painful, and exhausting; but the fruit it produces of beauty, growth, wisdom, and so much more is what I think Barney was calling us too all along. As simplistic as his love seemed, Barney proposed a much weightier sort of love under the surface of his words. Because we love each other, we will fight the good fight together and that will be the avenue we use to produce good fruit.
I pray that you can go love messy because you were first loved simply.