“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return.”

– Eden Ahbez, Nature Boy

I have been thinking about the concept of love. I’ve already written a blog about soulmates, but I guess I feel like I have more to say on the topic. I’m not sure what spawned this rumination. I think perhaps it’s the result of a series of conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks.

There’s so much misunderstanding in what it means to love. We have mixed up love with romance, infatuation or even lust. I have found that Pinterest and Facebook contains a plethora of misinformation, fantasy and bad advice on the subject. I suppose it’s because love is such an illusive concept to define and yet it is something we all crave. We were made for love, because we were made from love, in the image of Love. We cannot help ourselves, love is embedded in our very souls. It’s who we are.

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If love is a universal desire than why do we struggle with it? I think maybe it’s because our culture has sold us a cheap knock off version. We are flooded with love songs and romantic movies and suddenly we think romantic feelings are love.

I don’t believe in love at first sight, or even second or third. Love doesn’t come in day, a week or even a month. Love takes time. Too many people confuse the concoction of attraction, infatuation and lust that often comes early on in relationships with love. I’m not saying that the exciting, electric emotions in the beginning are bad, they are great! There’s a reason so many movies focus on them, but butterflies aren’t love.

Too often dating is a masquerade. Everyone is on their best behavior and no one shows their true self until much later. The problem with this is we cannot truly love someone we do not know. Love is something that happens at a soul level. I think maybe true love can only be built on true friendship.

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In my experience I have found that love is not a feeling at all. It is a choice we make and behavior that follows it. I fell in love with Jon, then a few years into marriage lost all feelings of love for him. But I made the choice to love him still until finally my feelings of love followed my choice to love. We may not be able to control who we are attracted to, but we most certainly can control who we love.

I opened this blog post with a quote that has always stirred me. The song is hauntingly beautiful, but I love the simplicity of its message even more. Love is something we must learn. It is not instinctual, it’s a muscle we must develop. We are inherently selfish creatures. We want to be loved they way we need to be loved but often don’t want to take the effort and intention to love someone else in the way they need to be loved.

It took time for me to learn how to love Jon. He loved and received love so differently than I did so it was difficult for me for awhile. Learning to love someone is like learning to speak a new language and each and every person speaks their own unique dialect.  It’s not something you can take a crash course in. It takes effort, practice and study. Love is not for the lazy.

(Seriously, Love Languages are a real thing, you need to read up on them if you aren’t familiar with them.)

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Right now, in the season I am in I know I am not yet ready to love someone else. My capacity for romantic love is still filled with Jon. Even so, I miss love. Not just being loved, but I miss loving. I miss trying to find new ways to make someone feel special. I miss planning surprises and learning all of the things that bring pleasure to his heart. I long for the day when I am whole enough to love someone well.

There are so many cringeworthy quotes on love that get shared on social media. So I thought I would finish off the post by adding some quotes that I think actually reflect what real love looks like, starting with the wise words of C.S. Lewis.

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“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

 

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