Thursday, April 30, 2020

Love is a four letter word

I notice that today, people are really quick to say, "I LOVE YOU,"  but what do they mean? Do they understand what love means? 

How would you explain love?

This is a trick question, don’t even try to answer it. Whatever you say will be inadequate.

The greatest need of the human heart is for love; to be loved and to be free to love others. Giving and receiving love are the hallmarks of our humanity. In order to truly be human, we must be able to receive love and release it to others.

But, what is Love?
The word “LOVE” is one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the English language. This simple, four-letter word can bring joy, peace, conflict, heartbreak, and disaster. What does it mean to you? That depends on your history, culture and vocabulary. Words are merely symbols - elements of language - that communicate ideas. 

 A group of psychologists delved into the meaning of love by asking a group of children aged 4 to 8 years age what “love” meant.
Their answers are truly amazing:
  • 'When my grandma got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandpa does it for her now all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love..."
  • "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouths."
  • 'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs.'
  • "Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'
  • 'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."
  • "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."
  • "Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.
  • "Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
  • "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."
  • "You really shouldn't say ‘I LOVE YOU’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

Writers have attempted to define love in popular songs, motion pictures, and romantic fiction and it almost always involves getting our own needs met. Love is a warm puppy, a chocolate sundae, not having to say I'm sorry. 

Many of us look at love based upon what we can get out of the relationship;
  • “I will give if I am going to get.”
  • “He makes me feel so good!”
  • “I love the way that ice cream tasted.”
  • “She is so nice to me.”

 If we are truly honest, most of us would define love in terms of getting our own needs met. Even a generous act of giving to others is often based upon an expectation of what we will receive in return. When someone offers us attention, significance, or pleasure, we eagerly give, with the expectation that we will get what we so desperately want or need. But that is not love - that is selfish and manipulative. Even eight-year-old kids have a better understanding of love. 

Love involves giving, giving beyond oneself. It means putting another's needs ahead of our own. Love is the freedom to see beyond oneself in order to see another, not to see them as an object to meet my personal needs. Love sees another as a person worthy of love.

1 John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 

If God is love, our ability to understand LOVE is dependant upon our understanding of God.

Early church monastic, St John of The Ladder, examines the means of ascending to the highest degree of religious perfection by a series of thirty steps. Each step recalls a year of the life of Christ. The most holy example of religious perfection is achieved at step number thirty -”Love.”

The angels know how to discuss love, but even they are only able to do this according to their level of understanding. God is love, so the one who desires to describe this, attempts with dim eyes to weigh the sand in the sea. Love, from its very essence, is the likeness of God. As much as it possible for humans, in its action it is intoxication of the soul, and through its unique characteristic it is a spring of faith, and abyss of long-suffering, an ocean of lowliness. Love is fundamentally the exile of all opposing thoughts, for love thinks nothing evil.[1]

If you want to know love, you must first know God!

[1] The Ladder of Devine Ascent, St John Climacus