Looking for Love
by Dr. Leela Francisco
As a youth, one of the deepest needs I felt, was to be loved. I was looking for someone whom I could love as well as who would love me sincerely.
But what would this love be like? At that time, I had no clue …. I thought it was something that would make me feel good about myself all the time. Though I wasn’t wrong in my expectations, I had completely missed the point!! The explanation below is my own experience of getting on track.
Early enough (at one of the many retreats I attended) I learnt that there were various kinds of love based on the expression of that love:
Storge Love : The love shared between a parent and a child
Philio Love : Love shared between two bosom friends, or between siblings
Eros : Idealistic and sensual love
Agape : Unconditional Love, God’s Love
The highest type of love, is Agape or unconditional love. Later we will understand about Infatuation from this perspective.
We begin our life with parental love and also experience Philio love with our brothers and sisters or family and friends around us. Then our hormones kick in and we’re looking around for a partner for life, high on Eros. Here’s where we begin to make the first mistakes about love.
We think that to feel sexually attracted to someone, is the basis of love that will last our lifetime, in relationship with that person. Media and movies and books try to sell this lie to us, and most of the time, we buy it. Because it’s seductive.
How do we then get our hormones straightened out and get our minds to understand what we need to experience in love?
The answer to that is first learning self control.
Self control is learning to deny oneself the easy and immediate gratification of the flesh or carnal needs. More often than not, it may be impossible for some people to do so in some areas of their lives where they feel ‘weak’. Over eating or wanting new things all the time, even addiction to various habits are some examples of need for immediate gratification. Often one’s Will Power is not enough to overcome this.
The answer is, in moving to a higher level of Self Control – and that is Spiritual Self Control. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is “Self Control”, along with Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Humility. What does this mean?
Unless we have a working relationship with the Holy Spirit, we cannot have these gifts. Not receiving these gifts form the Holy Spirit would mean that one is relying on ones own strength adn will which is “only human”. When I receive the gift of self control, I am supernaturally able to deny myself immediate gratification and I learn to wait for the real thing.
As a youth today, what did it mean for me to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation? Did I realize that it was the external expression of the very same Grace of the Holy Spirit with all those wonderful Spiritual gifts above? If I did, have I pursued them in order to now live a life in the Spirit? I myself, had not and it took me a little while to find this out. But my sincere hope is you will get on the right track faster and earlier than I did! Basic to experiencing true love as a Christian, is knowing the Holy Spirit as a friend and experiencing His Gifts.
When I’m looking for love, as a young eligible person, I’m looking for a partner for life as well. When I find this True Love, it will go through 3 stages in that relationship and I will experience the different elements of love in those stages. The stages are:
When we meet someone who we feel attracted to, it is an exhilarating feeling. We seek that person out all the time, we want to spend time with him/her, we think of that person all the time. As this progresses, we’re constantly trying to find out what we have in common. We can see only the good in the other person. We cannot believe there is anything in the other person that we would not like. Love is blind…, and often deaf and dumb as well! Love here is predominantly Eros with Philio Love.
So we enjoy each others company, have fun, share more and more about ourselves. As time passes, one feels either a deepening of the bond between each other, or one realizes aspects in the other that are difficult to accept. Related to this there are practical aspects to consider as well as personality faults. Education, family background, religious background, culture, future hopes and dreams are some important aspects to discuss and seek counsel of someone with wisdom about these matters, for mutual compatibility.
It is also important that personality traits and needs complement each other. All this needs to be seriously discussed in an atmosphere that supports this type of discussion, either with parents or a counselor who can see each person’s personality objectively. For example, one partner may be very introvert, the other very extrovert. It would be very important whether these opposites in personality would complement or cause division in the relationship the future. This is dependant on various factors but especially on what one feels about this in one’s heart.
So I need to understand deep in my heart what I’m looking for, I need to feel peaceful about my choice to be with this person. Having a regular prayer life and trusting God is one simple way of being in touch with ones heart. Proverbs 23: 26 says: "My son, Give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways." God sets the right desires in our hearts and God knows exactly what we need. More than anyone else, including me!
If I don’t feel peaceful in my heart when I am with this person, it could either be that I have a lot of (emotional or spiritual) growing up to do, or else there are incompatibilities that could only get worse with time.
In a committed relationship after a period of time in Romance, comes the time of disillusionment. It is when the blindness of love disappears and we’re suddenly aware of the other person’s faults and weaknesses. The other person and his/her faults become unbearable!
Suddenly we cannot see all the good things we actually loved the other person for initially. Faults are magnified, weaknesses are despairing and the relationship looks hopeless in the future!
This is where all the divorces and separations take place today. It is truly unfortunate that people do not realize that this is only one milestone in their relationship. Things have bottomed out and from here onwards if they stick with it, remain committed in their hearts and trust God, the relationship can only get better… with the Grace of GOD.
The person I once was once in love with, who had all those wonderful qualities, who was the right person for me … that person still exists beneath all what I apparently don’t seem to like any more. But how do I now see that beautiful person again? How can I love this Ogre again, who is now my spouse, whom I’ve got to live the rest of my life with? The answer is in the next stage, provided we’ve decided with courage and emotional maturity to go through this time of barrenness and get to the next stage. Sometimes this can take a little while, even a year or two. Which is why, my vow to be committed “for better or for worse” is so very important.
Once I know that I want to remain committed to my partner, whatever the difficulties, I start now working on my emotional and Spiritual maturity. I make myself Humble - Humility is a gift of the Spirit. I grow in my relationship with Jesus/the Holy Spirit. I feel the Grace of God slowly and surely helping me and strengthening me in this decision to Love my partner. I invite God into this relationship and begin to feel His love for me, that beautiful unconditional love called Agape. When I realize how much God loves me, inspite of how horrible, weak, and faulty I am, I am strengthened to love God in return, and love my partner again. I make a decision to love my partner, that beautiful soul within, with the Love of God. The same Agape love that He has for me.
This stage is a truly beautiful experience, because, feeling the power of God’s love is a beautiful experience. Feeling the power of His love work THROUGH me for others and especially for my partner/spouse is an experience every Christian ought to have. This is the Hope of love in EVERY relationship. The Grace and Love of God, that never fails, provided we are ready to receive it. No divorce, no separation.
What then is Infatuation?
Infatuation is a shallow love of Eros. We are enthralled by the external appearance of a person. We see one facet or image of that person and “fall in love" with it, without understanding the person completely. There is no clear sharing of heart and mind in this type of love and it cannot last long. Sooner or later, reality sets in and idealism and attraction loses its luster. We go through a painful disillusionment.
Each of us goes through this phase some time or other in our youth. We need to experience the shallowness and emptiness of this type of love, in order to know true love when we bump into it!
What we need to strive for, in every relationship then is Agape Love. As Christians, we ought to understand and experience this so easily. It is a simple process of humbly submitting to the Will of God and experiencing His Grace and Love. We are transformed by this process, and not by what we try to do on our own human strength.
1 Corinthians 13 : 4-8 says: Love is patient, love is kind; It is not jealous, is not pompous and is not inflated, it is not rude and does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails!
We need to make a decision today to believe this Word of God, about what God’s love is. We need to believe that God wants each of us to experience this type of love within us. We need to open our hearts and experience this love from God, not on our own strength but through experiencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We become secure and loved individuals, no matter what we have experienced in the past.God is an inexhaustible source to this love relationship. It gets deeper and deeper every day, we learn to be dependant on it for our every need as the years go by, becasue it supplies our every need. The more we ask from God in relationship with Him, the more we get! Isn't that marvellous?
True love then, will NEVER fail.
E-mail this page to a friend
© 2005 Dr. Leela Francisco. All rights reserved.