What is Love?
There are many types of love, the love of a friend, the love between family members, the love of a mother and her child, the love between spouses, but this can seem confusing, is there one-type-of-love that we can use across all these?
Love’s only focus - the other
The hard question we all must ask ourselves is, do I love [so-and-so] for my own sake, or for theirs. Love’s only focus is - what is good for - the other. And love’s only aim is - how can I give myself for that good; even if in giving something for their good, I have to give up something for my good.
Love is NOT:
An emotion. Love is not sappy, sentimental, warm and fuzzies; or hot and steamy, romance, pleasure and stimulation; or thunderbolts and electricity, or some kind of invisible force (those these may all be side effects of love). Love is certainly not something I do to get someone to love me back, or even just to like me, to make the loneliness go away, or to feel better about myself. Love is something we do, for the GOOD of the other.
Is love just, giving “the other” what they want?
If your child desires something that is harmful to themselves, to you, or to anyone else, is it loving to give it to them? Or is it just feebleness. Love wishes and/or gives only what is good for the other. The hard part is knowing the difference between that which only seems good, and that which actually is good. And Loving someone certainly DOES NOT MEAN, we stay in a situation that is harmful.
Love your enemies…. or, love the people you don’t like.
I once heard a Catholic priest say that the litmus test for all Christians is, love your enemy. This is the hard part. We don’t have many enemies these days, but there may be someone we don’t like, we disagree with, who annoys us, who disgusts us, who we don’t respect, or who we just don’t care about. Can we love them? This doesn’t mean we need to meet for coffee and be best friends, it simply means, at the very least, genuinely wishing them the best in our hearts.
How do we know what love is?
Because Love itself pierced the time and space barrier, broke into our world, and took on flesh and blood, skin and bones, hair and teeth, in the form of a human person, Jesus Christ. You may or may not believe this, but the only way to really know, is to look into it for ourselves.
One thing that cannot be denied, he gave his entire life, until his very last breath, his very last drop of blood (literally) for “the other”. To those who were humiliating, beating, spitting, mocking Him as they slowly tortured His life away, he says, “forgive them, they know not what they do”.