Do you love, love? Or do you actually love people?
To answer either question, we have to answer a few other questions first.
What is love? (“Baby don’t hurt me“)
The usual definition contends that love is a feeling. But can you feel a feeling for your entire life? Can I feel love towards another human being for my entire life? Do I always feel happy? Does the feeling of anger last forever? Can I always feel fear? Is love a song? Is love a lamp? “I love lamp. I love carpet.”
Wow… it sure seems like ‘Love’ is quite the question creator.
Love is too often relegated to a definition within the “feeling” or “emotion” framework, but if that were true, then our entire understanding of love would have to change. Feelings come and go. If love came and went, then people wouldn’t be responsible for their actions on days that they weren’t in love with someone. You see, love can’t just be a feeling.
If love were just a feeling, then we would never constantly love someone. Love would come and go throughout our day and lives, just as fear, happiness, anger, and other feelings do. So, I must ask you; is LOVE just a feeling, or is it more?
“It’s definitely more, Josh!” (random hacker)
“Thanks, Anonymous!” (me)
I believe, as do many, that love is a choice.
We choose to love others, despite our day to day feelings.
True love is not a feeling, because a feeling can be lost.
Choosing to love takes work and effort, whereas feeling love is an experience.
I’d contend that the feeling of love is not really love. The feeling of love is actually other feelings like happiness, joy, peace, security, and many others, and is the result of the choice to love.
Nothing great in life comes easy. Love and relationships are one of the hardest endeavors we will all face. It takes more work and thought than any job. It is more confusing than any problem. Love is hard. Love is rewarding. Love is the realest thing you can feel. Love is proof that you are alive. Love is life!
It took me many years to understand the concept of love being a choice. It took many looks in the mirror to understand that I had it all wrong.
“Most of my life I was in love with the image of love, and not loving people.”
Love was an image of what I would get out of it. Love was an addiction. Love was a fairy-tale and not even a complete fairy-tale, because it had no real ending. Falling in love was the ending, just like Hollywood romance movies. Two people would notice each other, one would chase the other, love would blossom, some obstacle to their love would break them up… then they rejoin in a deeper love. Movie over! They don’t go on to show the next 50 years of fighting, thankfully.
For me, love was an answer to all questions. Love was constant happiness. Love was ultimate peace. Love was everything I needed or wanted.
Oh, foolish me… love was none of those things. At least none of those things lasted permanently, like I thought they would. I was in love with a vision of what I thought love was or was not. I learned from seeing others relationships, from movies, songs, poems, and life experiences.
I hinged my entire identity, future, and life on love. Epic fail! I wanted to find it, experience it, and never let go of it. Thankful fail! This vision of love that I had built in my mind truly destroyed my life at times, and nearly killed me on more than one occasion. Selfish fail! Love is the most important and most powerful entity in the universe and that especially rings true in Christianity, because God is Love. Epic win!
My idea of love tormented me with loneliness when I could not find it in my youth. I refused to date someone longer than 1-3 months, because once I knew it wasn’t love, then what was the point? My vision of what a father’s love should look like built anger and hate in me. My vision of a mother’s love built a false sense of security. My vision of a friend’s love built unrealistic expectations. My idea of love caused me to over-dramatize my entire life. Period.
I’ll save the stories about the destruction of life in the name of love for another day. Today, I need you to take me at my word when I say that loving the image of love is not love. Real love is so much better than that crap. “Whaaaaammy!” (where are the Anchorman quotes coming from…?)
Love is a choice.
Every day, I must wake up and choose to love others. I must choose to love my wife (which, luckily is super easy!), daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, myself, co-workers, strangers, and most importantly my enemies.
If I rely on feeling love, versus choosing to love, then I won’t express my love for others. Feelings come and go, and therefore the expression of love would be based on my feelings that moment, which are fleeting. Love is not fleeting.
I have to choose to express my love by choosing to love, and when expressing my love is ongoing, the result is returned love by others. The reward of love only comes from the choice and effort of expressing your love to others.
The most fulfilling days are the ones where we choose to love others, and express that love full-heartedly.
Conclusion: Love is a choice. Choosing to love the image of love is destructive, whereas choosing to love others through all circumstances is life.
I love you all, including the random strangers from Portugal that read this blog.