So What's Love?
Isnít love what we all desire? How could we live without loving and being loved?
Among the different expressions of love are friendship, dedication to a cause or to a person, the love of parents for their children, the exclusive love between a man and a woman united in marriage and the love with which we yearn for the Absolute.
In order to find the truth about love between a man and a woman, the first question is: what is it in a person, that causes me to be attracted towards him or her?
- Is it what he/she is able to give me (money, social status)?
- Is it the beauty that I see in him or her or the pleasure that I experience or that we are able to share together?
- Is it the feelings I have because of his/her attention?
A relationship thus founded may feel good, but it will prove to be imperfect: the other person is reduced to a means for achieving my own good. Paradoxically, it is towards myself that I am turning...
If we love truly, we love the other for themselves. An authentic love is above all to desire the happiness of the other. I do not love him/her only because of what they can give me but I love him/her primarily because of who he/she is. In such a relationship, there is even more reason for two people to feel strongly for one another, to experience pleasure in each otherís company or to be of mutual service to one another. A profound relationship is rooted in the person himself/herself over and above their apparent qualities or faults.
To love in this way implies a free choice on my part : to decide to love the other, to commit myself to him or her. We are not able to love truly without giving some of our freedom to the other. And we expect that this choice will be reciprocated because this is the condition of a relationship.So to look for the happiness of the one I love is to contribute to my own happiness. Certainly, this isnít always easy. We are all susceptible to mood swings, to the monotony of daily living, to difficulties that may arise and to our own egoism. Love isfragile....Will I love this person in five or in twenty years? Will I be capable of bearing with this or that fault? Is this love for life? Will it last through difficulties, through sickness?
In reality, if our relationship is founded on a free and reciprocated choice, it can only grow. Because love doesnít happen only once. ĎLove at first sightí, exciting as it is, is in fact a very strong emotion that does not necessarily demonstrate a profound love.
Such love is a personal relationship. It is built and it deepens with time and with a more and more solid trust between each other. By talking and sharing, love is renewed each day by means of gestures and attitudes that show to the other the priviledged place he or she has in my life. And the joys, the events and also the difficulties we live together reinforce our intimacy. This can grow to the extent that we work at our committment and through the difficulties, keep turning towards the other.
Love is therefore not just a simple union of two people but a mutual gift of two free beings of all that they are: body, heart and spirit. The logic of love is to aspire towards a total and definitive gift. Only a decision that is reciprocal and for life allows a human love to reach a certain perfection and to be capable of satisfying our hearts.
For the Christian, the source and the model of love is God: Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
When I was twelve my adolescence hit me like a tidal wave. I was hit by new and incredibly intense feelings inside me: sexual desire, the search for my identity as seen by others, the need to look grown-up, etc. While at a youth camp, I was also confronted for the first time by things like boy-girl relationships and pornography which I hadnít met before in my family,which was very reserved. This mixture of feelings completely split me apart. I started to call Good what up till then had seemed Bad and with my values completely upside-down, I began experimenting with all sorts of different sexual relationships. I dropped out of my studies, betrayed my parentís trust and tried out drugs and alcohol. I lived by two principles : One - the more you experience, the more interesting life is, and two - You can have it all, now.
It was an experience which turned out really badly that put an end to all my crazy behaviour. I had gone out to enjoy myself and found myself faced with a gang of males who were deadly serious about abusing one more worthless female.
That was my first taste of being broken and of real disgust with myself and with others.
The next phase, starting when I was sixteen, consisted of searching more and more deeply for love, but only in a certain direction. My aim was to be loved and I did everything to achieve it. I wanted to love too, but in doing so I very quickly got myself trapped by the mix of feelings of friendship and attraction, and I still wanted to have it all now and nothing tomorrow. The bottom line was everything in my life was in ruins and all I had left were memories of broken friendships, of love turned sour and wonderful principles that just didnít hold up.
Breakdown number two, my second crossing the desert: a desert without God, because I didnít feel concerned at all by the question of God, spirituality, or any kind of metaphysical doubt. It was a book put back on the shelf before I had even bothered to open it.
All the same, deep inside, I had always had a great desire to love and be loved deeply, totally and for ever. But what was I doing about it? And what could I do?
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