Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lies about love

Swept away!  Few things bring sweeter memories than being madly in love.

Beginning somewhere around the 6th grade or so, the turmoil we label 'falling in (and out) of love' occupies our emotional lives and awareness.  It is great fun, mostly, and absolutely full of drama.

If we are careful to be good-hearted about it, it remains fondly with us in our memory for a lifetime, along with perhaps a few regrets about how we might have been a bit gentler along the way, a bit more sensitive to how the other person might have felt.

Early love is inexperienced and understandably overbalanced toward self and feelings.  There's often little substance beyond how wonderfully it makes us feel inside.  Older folks smile and tell us that love isn't a feeling.

Love that's had time to grow up a bit retains the high-impact emotional content, but love itself becomes  broader and deeper.  And it is just too enthralling for words!

So, truth and lies.

  1. Love isn't just a feeling.  True, but the feelings that accompany love often speak more eloquently and describe it more fully than mere words.  Feelings do get a lot of attention.
    1. a. Love isn't a feeling; it's a decision.  Mostly true also, and not just one.  It's decisions made day after day, decade after decade, in favor of another.  And the feelings seem to thrive and grow more complex and rich on the decisions.
  2. Love leads to 'happily ever after'.  Lie.  Life is full of happy and unhappy.  Love can transcend but doesn't preclude the unhappy part.
  3. Love is 'the' source of happiness.  Maybe, sort of, almost; but not just 'being in love'.  Loving to great purpose can bring great joy.
  4. If someone loves you, they will know and meet all your needs.  Ha!  Lie, nonsense, and BIG mistake, unless your someone is a magician and mind-reader.  And even if they were, being loved covers much, but never 'all your needs'.  So sad.
  5. The opposite of love is hate.   Not really.  For us, love and hate are both choices we make, as in:  I wish you well, or I wish you failure, harm, death.  The opposite of love is perhaps just selfish indifference to others.  I choose for my own benefit alone and without considering you at all. 
  6. Love leads to joy.  True!  While there's great fun and happiness that accompanies our 'being in love', when love grows up, joy accompanies the result.
Persistent selfishness is a love-killer.  We can stumble over it every day until we're willing to face our self-centeredness head-on.  Some folks never do, unfortunately, and by the time they're old, they're permanent frowners, bitter, and angry at everyone except themselves. Learn and live, don't and die; a downhill slope into loneliness.

Love is larger still than we understand, I suspect.  Grander than romance, deeper than marriage, richer than family, greater than ... than we know.  A loving heart, we're told, is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or proud or rude, doesn't demand its own way, not irritable (?!), and it keeps no record of being mistreated. Love's great heart isn't pleased by injustice but celebrates when the truth wins out. It perseveres, it holds faith and hope firmly, and endures the impossible.  True.

... and it changes what it touches! True. It can change the world.  Also true.

With all that, it feels like way too much to live up to.  Perhaps we're all somewhere along the road, learning about it.

Waving goodbye yet again;  good folks on
the far side of the world ....
These thoughts were provoked by a conversation with an associate; he was attempting to offer a compliment on some humanitarian work that my wife and I had helped along.  I found myself explaining apologetically that there isn't a philanthropic or altruistic heart behind it.  We've talked about it; we're mostly just doing our best and enjoying the opportunity; it's great to hear from the overseas work and particularly from the families we know.  Maybe it's a start toward the larger, real love we'd like to know.

It really is great fun (a joy), and the pleasure spreads broadly across our lives.
It makes you wonder - who thought of this 'love' thing anyway. And just how big can it get?   :) 

The second great calling to the heart of mankind ...
We are all of one blood, none truly outside the family, and we must each discover for ourselves what that means.  We must decide if we will live practically and graciously, and choose as favorably for each other as we do for ourselves ... to love my neighbor as I love myself.

The first great calling ..., well that's another story.