The Difference Between Lust & Love

Several years ago, I was in charge of shipping and delivery at a major clothing retailer. My team would work from 3pm to midnight on merchandising and janitorial tasks until a cargo truck would deliver our freight; we would unload and open the boxes, sort the contents, and restock the store's shelves. Ideally, the store would be properly stocked, cleaned, and orderly by midnight and ready to open the next morning. After work and off the clock, we were all night owls. My crew migrated from the Boise Towne Square Mall to the Shari's Restaurant around the corner. There we would spend a couple hours drinking coffee and snacking on French fries, laughing and telling each other stories.

During this season of my life, there were a couple coworkers that became good friends. After one of the late night shifts and social time at Shari's, he and I lingered in the parking lot leaning against my car and talked for another two hours about God and girls. He had just proposed to his girlfriend and was so giddy – even surprised she actually said yes. His joy was contagious; I had no choice but to feel excited along with him.

I was dating someone at the time, but the thought of marriage and a future were nowhere near a reality in my 21-year-old brain. It seemed like such a foreign concept until this friend of mine made it real and urgent. So I asked a question any young and dumb college aged kid would ask: "How did you know she was the one?"

He answered, "Oh I'm so glad you asked."

"I was reading my bible and I came across 1 Corinthians 13." (The love chapter where Paul detailed love in his letter to the church in Corinth. It is frequently read at weddings and the kind of passage a good Christian boy would read during his devotional time when he's fallen in love.)

He continued. "I know that we're supposed to be imitators of God. And I know that God is love. When the verses started saying 'love is this' I started thinking 'God is that.' Then I wondered if I could say I was that too."

"When it came to my girlfriend, I asked myself, 'Am I patient with her? Am I kind to her? Am I humble around her? Am I unselfish? Do I rejoice when she speaks truth? Do I bear her burdens? Do I believe in and hope for the best? Am I willing to endure hardships alongside her?' As I thought about it I realized I could answer yes to all of those questions."

"Then I thought about her. Is she patient with me? Yes. Is she kind, humble, and selfless? Yes. Does she rejoice in truth? Yes. Is she willing to bear my burdens and endure hard times with me? Yes. Does she believe in and hope for the best? Yes."

"It hit me, Nic," he said, "I love her. And not only do I love her, but I love her the way scripture defines love. And she loves me the same way. That is how I knew she was the one."

As I drove home that night, I thought about my girlfriend. Did I love her according to 1 Corinthians 13? Is that how she loved me? Did we even love each other? By the time I got home, the only answer I could reach was 'I don't know.'

Ultimately, the answer was no. A few months later, we broke up. Her dad convinced her that someone who worked freight at Old Navy was not good enough for his daughter and the two of us went separate ways. My friend invited me to his wedding but I did not go. He quit working at Old Navy and I moved to a new store with more responsibility. The last time we spoke was a week before the ceremony; I have never seen anyone more sure of what they wanted in life.

Fast forward a dozen years and my marriage was falling apart. In the aftermath of divorce, I began analyzing love as if I was conducting a post-mortem examination. Something had died; was it love? What was the cause of death?

I asked myself challenging questions trying to identify where I went wrong. I examined the nature of love and romance and commitment. I wanted to root out the source of failure so that I would never experience the same demise of love.

Did she honestly love me?
Did I truly love her?
Or was I more in love with the concept of her?
If you love the idea of a relationship with a person more than you do the actual person, is it really love?
If it isn't love, what is it?
Is it lust?

Why is it so easy for us to confuse the difference between lust and love? Is that confusion why so many husbands and wives have affairs or leave their spouses for someone younger, wealthier, and/or better looking?

I don't have answers to many of these questions. My mind has frequently returned to that 2am conversation in the Denny's parking lot during the spring of 2000. When I interrogated myself on the drive home that night, the only answer I could provide was "I don't know." Much is the same now. Did she ever love me? I don't know. Did I ever love her? I don't know.

In the absence of definitive answers, I have fought to understand real love. What does it mean? What does it look like? How does it feel? How does it work?

While the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians is famous for detailing what love is and is not, what it does and doesn't do, it also provides a chronological perspective of now versus then. Paul wrote, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." And later, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully."

Now I realize that my understanding is and probably always will be incomplete. For now, I only know in part. I only prophesy in part. I am only staring dimly into a mirror. Paul wrote about a time - a then - when we would know fully and see clearly. Until that then comes, I need answers greater than "I don't know."

What is the difference between love and lust? I have some answers now, but they are still incomplete. I am only answering in part.

Lust is an inward expression; love is an outward expression.
Lust is focused on self; love is focused on others.
Lust asks "What do I get out of it?" Love asks "What do I have to give?"
Lust fantasizes about what will never happen; love builds upon what already exists.
Lust thrives in imagination; love thrives in action.
Lust has zero investment; love is committed.
Lust risks nothing; love risks everything.
Lust gives up; love endures.
Lust wishes; love plans.
Lust skims the surface; love plumbs the depths.
Lust is fickle; love is unwavering.
Lust seeks a cheap thrill; love creates passion.
Lust won't fix what is broken; love is constantly improving what needs repaired.
Lust sees flaws everywhere; love sees the best in everything.
Lust devalues; love redeems.

These answers are incomplete. But until the day I fully understand, this will be enough.


Conversations with my daughter

Having a sick child is not fun. Especially when the contents of their stomachs are moving the wrong direction. That has been my daughter's story this week, which means she can't go school. Despite being sick, she has managed to keep her humor. She demonstrated her wit in the midst of illness yesterday in a text conversation with me. It is as follows.


Sorry you're not feeling well.

How do you know I'm not feeling well?

1. You're texting me in the middle of the day when you would normally be at school.
2. Your mom told me.

Ok. ;)

3. And I'm telepathic.

Nu uh.

I'm teasing. But I hope you get feeling better soon.

Am I going to school tomorrow?

We'll see.


Poop head.

I love you goofy girl.

What time are you picking us up?

This afternoon.

Lion mouth roar.


You're so mature.

Are you smiling?


I'm sorry. I was just trying to get you to laugh.

I lied.
Haha armpit.




Not funny.

Armpit was funny. Sad Simba is not.

It's not Simba it's Scar's son.

Scar had a son? I'm behind the times!

It's Lion King 2.
Have you watched it?

Nope. You're up on me there.
Your Lion King game is stronger than mine.

Thanks daddy.

That's poop daddy to you.




It wasn’t that long ago when the word kaepernicking meant posing for a photo while kissing your flexed bicep. Then Colin Kaepernick sat through the National Anthem as a silent protest against the racial injustices we’ve all seen dominating headlines. Today, kaepernicking has a whole different connotation. The current definition varies depending on your perspective.

For some, it still means showboating. Doing something to bring attention to yourself? You’re kaepernicking. There are many who saw Kaepernick’s protest as a desperate grab for attention. His success as a player is not as great as it once was and he knows his star power is fading. His contract is running short and it is unlikely the 49ers will keep keep him longer than they must. No one cares about Kaepernick any more so he needed to do something to get people talking about him again.

For others, kaepernicking is the new anti-American expression. They see his actions as an unforgivable insult to our military, akin to hippies spitting on soldiers returning home from Vietnam 40 years ago. They think it is disrespecting our flag, it is a stiff upper lip to our country, and a middle finger to all we represent. ‘If he doesn’t like it here,’ they say, ‘he should move somewhere else.’

There are also those who see Kaepernick’s actions as a brave demonstration of our first amendment rights. They believe the cause he claimed inspired his protest is a valid concern an applaud his efforts for using his fame to shine a spotlight on such a pressing issue.

Then there are a few that don’t give a damn one way or another.

Two weeks have passed since Kaepernick’s protest and folks are still debating for and against his silent demonstration. I’ve seen arguments of support from people who can’t stand him and I saw the video of a long-time fan burning a Kaepernick jersey. Critics and advocates all have something to say.

Tomorrow, on the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the Seahawks have planned a demonstration of unity. As the internet is prone to do, everyone is jumping to conclusions and assuming the whole team will sit out the National Anthem to show support of a quarterback from a rival team. The mayor of DuPont even went as far as cancelling a city rally event to protest the Seahawks possible protest.

Before anyone can get up in arms against the Seahawks, we should take note of a few things. Russell Wilson said he views participation in the National Anthem is an “emotional time” and “truly an honor.” Doug Baldwin said the purpose of the team’s demonstration was “to bring people together” and “will honor the country and flag.” Neither Earl Thomas nor Cliff Avril were aware of what – if anything will happen.

So we do what our culture knows how to do best: yell at each other and preemptively complain about events that may or may not transpire.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion of Colin Kaepernick, regardless of what happens in Seattle before the Seahawks take on the Dolphins, maybe there are conversations we need to have.

To stand or sit or kneel. To sing along or stare into space. Free speech or civic duty. Obligations or privileges. Respect and honor or protest. Difficult decisions or stupid ones.

Perhaps the most important discussion we should hold is if Kaepernick has a point. Let’s forget about his actions for a moment. Does he raise a valid grievance? Are people of color oppressed in America? Are people getting away with murder?

These are not easy questions to answer. Nor should they receive simple responses. The issue of race in America is long and complicated. If I am honest, I am not the best person to provide an answer.

Why not? Because I am the status quo. I am a strait, white, Christian, male. I have never known a time where I was the minority. Asking me to explain what it is like to be oppressed would be like asking a bear what it is like to be a fish. This is a debate in which I have zero first-hand experience.

I do not know what it is like to be a black man in America. But I do have African American friends so I trust their opinions and their experiences.

I have never been a police officer so I don’t know what it is like to be a cop. But I have friends who have worked in law enforcement so I trust their opinions and their experiences.

I never ran for political office so I don’t know what it is like to govern such a fractured society. But I have friends who have served in elected positions so I trust their opinions and their experiences.

There is a lot that I don’t know. But here is what I do know.

There is a fine line between patriotism and jingoism.
America is an awesome nation but it is not a perfect nation.
People are flawed and as long as our governments are ran by people, our governments will also be flawed.
You can still support our troops while recognizing there are injustices happening within our borders.
You can be proud to be an American while pointing out flaws in American culture.
There are other ways to show pride than saluting a flag.
When a presidential candidate is campaigning on the concept that America isn’t great, we should not be surprised when celebrities point out specific examples of what makes our nation less than great.

So let’s talk. And if you – like me – are a member of the majority population, talk to someone that isn’t like you. Talk to people of color. Talk to members of the LGBT community. Talk to immigrants and refugees. Talk to police officers and ex-convicts. Find out what it is like to spend a day in their shoes. Ask them what we can do to make our world better. Maybe if we started doing that a little more, we could motivate Colin Kaepernick to stand again during the National Anthem.