“If you need love take the time to be love.”
A song I used to listen to on Christian radio (back when I didn’t know Christian music was so musically uninteresting) used to tell me that. When I was young I often thought that if we loved others we would be loved in return. By others. By God. Everybody would just be happy all the time. Everyone would feel loved and cared for.
Now that I’m older I realize how misconstrued love has become.
More often than not, love is one sided. I realize this now. I’m not talking about the kind of boy meets girl love and they get married and have a family and stick with each other through it all kind of love. I’m talking about the ability to love people in general. To love the guy who paid for his garments while trying to pick you up. The girl at work who can’t stop making your life miserable. The struggling marriage. The little boy in Ethiopia who needs donations to get a better education and food. That kind of love. The kind that feels separate from you. Distant. Far away. Unnecessary. That kind of love. The kind that doesn’t give back, but takes from you. The kind of love that’s hard.
That’s true love.
I once had a philosophical discussion with one of my friends in college. She asked me, while writing her philosophy paper on the matter, about a scenario with two possible outcomes, and wondered which of the scenarios was a more true act of love.
“If a man marries a woman he believes to be in love with, but falls out of love with her, is it more of an act of love if he stays with her and takes care of her despite falling out of love? Or is it better that he leave her and let’s her find someone who truly loves her?”
I pondered it deeply. After a few minutes I concluded: “I think it is better to stay with her and take care of her despite his lack of love for her. As long as he is not abusing her and meeting her emotional needs in the same manner as if he were still in love with her.”
“So you think it is a greater act of love to pretend to love than to actually love?” She seems a bit disappointed in my response. Even shocked. She knew me well enough to be the kind of hopeless romantic who writes poetry and dreams of being in love with love. What she didn’t know is the romantic is only part of myself.
I am also a realist….on occasion.
“Yes, because I think love isn’t always a feeling. I think culture has helped us to buy into the idea that love is all about impulse and feelings. I think that’s only half the story. I think love begins as impulse and feeling. But over time, I think feelings are fleeting. I think when love becomes a choice it is more true. By that point, it isn’t about what you can get from the person, but what you can give. You leave the selfish behind and really have to take into account what they need from you, or even want from you, and set aside yourself. I think of that as a greater act of love.”
“Self sacrifice as the ultimate love.”
“Yes. Not to say that pretending you are in love with someone still doesn’t help you fall back in love with them either. I think emotions can take turns for seemingly worse, or even go numb from time to time. I experience it a lot.”
If you need love, take the time to be love.
People do stupid things to hurt you, intentional or otherwise. They fight with you. They don’t accept your help. They hurt themselves because they know it hurts you. You stop loving them because it’s easy. But need love means to be love. If you want to be loved you have to offer it in the hopes of it being returned, but not expect it. That’s the hardest part. Love can be one sided. Some people say it’s destructive to be in one sided relationships, but I’m beginning to wonder if it actually is. Emotions can be torn and broken, but the human spirit has an uncanny knack of justifying anything. Even for pulling ourselves out of emotional torment. I suffer from depression. I have learned how to keep living when emotions turn on you. You just do it. You get up and choose to stay alive. Perhaps that is what love is. Choosing to love even when it hurts. Choosing to care about someone or something even if it means agony.
Just wondering out loud.