During the course of this study, the authors define three stages of love, listed above. The First love, that emotional high, twitterpated, sweaty palm, pulse-pounding, catch your breath kind of love, is where Hollywood stops the story. It’s that initial, getting to know you, everything is wonderful and when even the most annoying trait of your prospective partner is adorable. He or she can do no wrong.
The second, Wilderness love, is what usually derails relationships. Marriages crumble, buried in the rubble of broken promises, financial challenges, infidelities, illness, conflicting desires, and a myriad of other issues, both great and small. Break-ups, separations, divorce. This is what is displayed in the headlines, it disrupts political campaigns, distorts celebrities, derails careers, disparages sports figures, it destroys, communities, families, and individuals.
The final stage is Invincible love. This is the goal, the end game, the one true desire – it’s the refined, been through the wringer and come out on the other side stronger, deeper, will not fail, and is not dependent on circumstances. This is the kind of lasting love that results in years and years of marriage. . . it’s indescribable. It moves beyond hormones, survives the dry barrenness of trouble, hardship, and disinterest, and develops into a living, breathing, organic thing that grows as it’s nurtured.
I equate this last form of love as Unconditional. The blueprint can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 . It’s what we as believers strive to model and offer to others. Unfortunately, because of our own limitations this side of Heaven (and the perfection that’s promised), we fall far short, both in giving and receiving this kind of love. In fact, it’s only God that truly can and successfully does, offer unconditional love to us.