- Posted May 3, 2014 by
What is Love?
What is Love?
The dictionary definitions we are given of love are rather weak. They are all something like this one “an intense feeling of deep affection”. If you have ever given birth to a child, brought the child home and cared for him 24 hours a day for a few weeks, I would think that you know a description of your feelings that involve the words “deep affection”, just don’t cut it. You would, even after only three weeks, gladly die for that child. This is an emotion that is more powerful than any words we have to describe it. It is said that having a child is like wearing your heart on the outside of your body…and that is true.
We all have different views of what unconditional love is. I think that everyone who believes in God can agree that God has unconditional love for us. How though, does that translate into human form? Unconditional love may well be God in us…but how do we express that love as one human to another? The author of The Love Dare, says it beautifully and succinctly. “Love works. It is life’s most powerful motivator and has far greater depth than most people realize. It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it like our lungs need oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living. Relationships become meaningful with it. No marriage is successful without it.
Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these two attributes.” (Kendrick, 2008)
If we take this apart and look at it, we may get a better grasp on what love actually is and is not. According to him, love looks out for the needs of others. Love is a protector of sorts, striving always to do what is best for the beloved. This of course, can be a sticky area as we may not always know what the best is for others. As humans, we often project our own needs, wants, desires on others. Often, what we want/need is not what is truly best for our partners, but that is exactly what we give them. In the book, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, we are indoctrinated to a completely new way of thinking about love. According to the author, we each have particular ways we need to be loved. Unfortunately, we tend to show our love in the way we need to receive it. This is a cause of much pain in relationships as often the lover truly believes she is doing the best for the beloved as she is loving him in the way she desires love be shown to her. It gets lost in translation if the beloved does not have the same love language. This is my best example of how this works or does not work. My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. My ex’s were Quality Time and Acts of Service. He showed his love to me through doing things like mowing the lawn. What I wanted was to hear him say how proud he was of me or that he appreciated me. He believed he was doing the best thing for me, when in fact, I was resentful that he was not showing me love in a way that registered “Love” to me! Sometimes, we believe that protecting the beloved is the best thing for him when maybe tough love is. As humans, we are left to our best judgment and sometimes we fail.
Love is a motivator. Given the nature of love, it should motivate us to always be our best selves for our beloved. It should inspire us to always be kind and have patience, to always try to be the protector of our beloved’s heart and to live in a servant love relationship with our beloved. Love should motivate us to be the best person we can be. Love empowers us to take risks that we had no idea we could ever take. It is a source of limitless strength.
Love allows us to enter into the depths of a relationship that prior to having that love, could only be imagined. I have heard it said that when to love, you give your heart to your beloved and trust him not to break it. This creates the kind of vulnerability that, though admittedly terrifying, can open your soul to the point that you can literally become one with another human. To love you must exercise patience in order to keep potentially hurtful outbursts from escalating into relationship damaging episodes. You must live in kindness toward the beloved to encourage the relationship to grow. Through kindness, you will build trust and confidence in the relationship.
After all of the reading and studying and thinking on love, I really must share what I believe to be the foundation that love must live on in order to weather the storms of life. First, though you have love (the noun) for your beloved, it must be given, shown and demonstrated in the verb sense of the word. Someone can love me from afar, never showing that love, and I will reap none of the benefits of a loving relationship, nor will he. Love without action, does not grow a relationship. Not only should love have action, it needs to be active. Yes, I can talk to a friend that I have not seen in 20 years and still feel love for that person. Truthfully, however, how much of a relationship can you have with someone when there has been no action in the relationship in so long? In order to share love, you cannot be passive about it. Love demands activity. Love demands a servant heart. It requires that you always put the needs, the best interests, the desires of your beloved before your own. To do this you have to clear away your ego, you have to put down the score card of how many rights and wrongs each of you have for the day or week, and simply show your partner the love she deserves from you.
If all of this is not hard enough, you still need boundaries. Though you are charged with showing patience and kindness at all times, you cannot allow your beloved to hurt you over and over and have no regard for you. Love in a relationship, must be mutually kind, mutually given with servant hearts and must always be willing to ask for forgiveness when one partner hurts the other. Unconditional love has no limits, loving within the confines of a relationship, must have limits in order to keep the love alive.
After you have lived in a relationship that has gone south for one reason or another, living as a true love partner may seem like an impossible dream. Dating, over the age of 40, seems to give off the impression that no one in this age group is actually capable of living this way. After failed marriages, after knowing unconditional love through loving our own children, after weathering the storms of life, it seems that we would be the best candidates to actually find our true-love forever partners. I know that I have not given up hope that it can happen..and maybe someday it will.