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May 3, 2016

Love: it seeks to be defined

How do you describe something so subjective, so marvelous, yet so unbearable at times? For some, love is considered nature’s way of tricking people into reproducing. However, for others, it is a mesmerizing, unconquerable, and undeniable beauty.

The force of love is at the core of so many stories, made-for-TV movies, moral codes, and even our souls – but why? It might be because we want to give it a palpable, exclusive, and conclusive meaning.

Below are three ways we can rethink and redefine the evasive, often misunderstood concept of love:

#1 Suffering

Suffering is confusing, odd, perplexing, and seemingly contradictory to what we think happiness should feel like. Why would we want suffering, the thing most disagreeable with our human nature, associated with our best experiences and relationships?

This is exactly what our modern culture tells us: avoid suffering at all costs because it is meaningless and pointless. However, if our love for others was defined by only good feelings, would that not be reducing people to only pleasurable experiences?

Suffering is medicinal. The loving parents of a child with cancer wouldn’t change their minds if the child said to them: “if you really loved me, you wouldn’t put me through the pain of chemotherapy.” The parents know that just because the child objects and expresses resentment doesn’t eliminate the need for treatment. As heartbreaking as that is for the parents, they know that chemotherapy is what will give their child the best shot at an opportunity for a healthy future.

Choosing pain so someone else can have what is best for him or her is exactly what love is all about. Therefore love will not always present itself as a warm, fuzzy feeling. It can also manifest itself in the less attractive moments, the instances when we are being trampled, dragged face down in the dirt, and enduring pain for the sake of another’s happiness.

There are incredible benefits of this all, though. Enduring adversity truly awakens us to reality and allows us to discern the people and beliefs worth endorsing. We humbly mold and shape ourselves into better humans while continually seeking opportunities for bigger and better self-improvement. Love is surely defined in our suffering, and we are missing out if we don’t realize that.

#2 Commitment

While there are many different categories and levels of relationships statuses, every public relationship requires a minimal level of commitment until said status is terminated.

Commitment is paralyzing to some. Perhaps this is because some individuals see it as infringement on their freedom. However, we should challenge ourselves to view it from a different perspective.

Take for example the sport of basketball. Imagine if the sidelines vanished and all rules that protected the players’ safety were no longer in effect. How would players improve at the sport if they were forced to think of the unlimited ways to get the ball in the basket with no boundaries? Instead, the rules and regulations reduce anxiety among athletes because they elucidate what each player must focus on in order to sharpen his or her skills.

Setting limits and putting down roots doesn’t chain you; it grounds you. Committing not only to relationships, but to locations, jobs, and friendships frees us from the oppression of our ambivalence and unending uncertainties.

As the old adage goes, “99% is hard as hell, but 100% is easy.” Commitment, contrary to many people’s thoughts, actually sets us free.

#3 With Time

There’s a reason great relationships do not happen overnight. They require copious amounts of time.

Also, it is important to remember that in life, the love you give will most likely not reveal itself in one grand, sweeping measure, such as being a martyr for a cause. Great love also comes in many other forms. Most actions of love are small, continued habits that are silent, hidden, and permeated with quiet selflessness, like a slow burning ember offering its incense to goodness. These small acts are no less heroic than the big ones.

We, as humans, are wired to desire a permanent home in communion with others. We are not made to continually chase thrilling experience after thrilling experience. People who possess this lifestyle are not only chasing a fleeting feeling, but are looking for love in all of the wrong places. Unfortunately, too, they realize this far too late.

A plant cannot thrive by blowing in the wind; its health and growth depend on the time and care it recieves. We should bloom where we are planted, watering our friendships and family connections overtime with gentle trustworthiness and meaningful joy.

If we think about all of the great loves in our lives, they truly give us an identity. Do we give them one?

Love not only seeks to be defined; it needs to be defined. This definition does not need to be conventional or aesthetic. It simply needs to be rooted in truth.


By: Stephanie Corder, Operations Manager for Families of Character

1 Comment

  1. Liz C. says:

    These three crucial aspects of love would be helpful for dating and engaged couples to reflect on! Too many people think that love “just happens” because the requirements are not clearly enunciated, as they are in this article. It must be fostered if it is to grow and an appreciation of these three key components of love signals an understanding of that responsibility.

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