Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Meaning of Love.

What is love?

It's a question that human kind has asked since the beginning of time.  What is it?  What does it mean to love someone?  To be loved in return? 

What is the essence of romantic love?

It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately.  And I do mean a lot.  I had always thought I had known what love was.  It wasn't until I met my boyfriend - and fell heart first into it myself- that I realized I did, but what I knew didn't even begin to scratch the surface of what it means to love and be loved.  Allow me to share.

We live in a society that is incredibly self centered and focused on material things.  Everything has a stipulation on it: if you love someone, you'll spend enormous amounts of money on them or do certain physical acts with them to show it.  If you want love, you have to be willing to sacrifice something for it.

And while some of that might be true (love takes work of some sort, which is not always easy all the time), maybe we're over complicating it.  I mean, love is a lot simpler than that.  It's not about candy and flowers and looks.  It's not about being the best.  It's not based on winning or losing or playing games.

The Bible has the purest definition of it, actually.  1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 4 through 8 reads:

       "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."

 This is actually a verse that I read a lot.  When I was single, it gave me something to strive for.  I wanted to know the love like this.  I knew God's love was like that, but I wanted a man to love me like it too.  Now that I have him, I see it a little differently.  Still good, still beautiful, but different.

So where do my views of love interesect with this beautiful passage?  Allow me to take it apart and show you.  (And please note, I'm not a Biblical scholar by any means; this is just how I apply the Bible to my life.)

"Love is patient, love is kind." 

If you want to be loved, and if you want to love, you need to be patient.  Again, we live in a society where everything is nearly instantaneous; it can't be that way with love.  You have to be willing to wait.  Same with kindness.  The more kindness and caring you send into the world, the more kindness and caring will be returned to you.  If you want it, you have to be able to give it first.

"It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

Envy and pride will only eat at you and set you up for failure down the road.  Boasting and telling the world how great you are shows others that you are self-centered and egotistical.  Granted, there are times when it's appropriate to be proud of yourself, but not to an extent that causes everyone else to feel bad.  When I read this part, I think of love as quietly entering the room, unannounced.  (Which, for the record, it often is.  It was for me. =D)

"It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

I fully believe that when you love someone, you will overlook their faults.  The things you thought you couldn't live with suddenly become less important.  Every mistake means nothing as long as they are still in your life.  You don't look to improve or promote yourself, but you try everything in your power to make sure the one you love is safe, taken care of, and shines.

"Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth."

Even if the truth hurts, it's better than a deceptive lie.  And with love, you learn to appreciate that honesty.  It helps your relationship mature, grow, and deepen.  The comfort needed to share even painful truths is a truly monumental thing.

"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

It offers safe haven like a parent, trusts even in the impossible like a child, hopes for a brighter tomorrow like a dreamer, and will carry on no matter how rocky the road becomes just like the Energizer Bunny.  It's so true.  Love - romantic or not - will encompas every aspect of life and growth and emotion.

"Love never fails."

This is a little trickier.  With so many divorce rates and whatnot, you would think this can't be true.  But think about it.  Even if you haven't seen a good friend in years, you still love them.  Even if you haven't spoken with a parent since you were a kid, a part of you still has some sort of love for them.  It never fails, it never goes away.  And if you truly love something or someone, nothing will be able to stop you.

So how do I know I'm in love?

Because I can't go a day without thinking about or talking to my boyfriend.  Because I'm sticking with a scarf project that I would normally have stopped already until I finish it.  Because he makes me, a lazy slob when it comes to cleaning, vacuum and take out the trash willingly in preparation for his arrival. 

Because I can't live a single day without him, and  I know it.  He makes me feel safe, he makes me hope for tomorrow, he makes me willingly trust, and he makes me want to continue moving forward more so than before.

That's love.  And that's where I am.

I hope you guys can find it, too.  And even if you can't find it in another, I hope you can find it in God.  It really is amazing.


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