LOVE ACTUALLY?

Unknown-2

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward. ~ Thomas Merton

Yesterday was perfect book weather. The steel-gray sky threatening icy rain gave me permission to curl up on the couch, sip hot coffee and indulge in a couple of books. I alternated between Normandie Fischer’s, Sailing Out of the Darkness, and Steven James’s, Sailing Between the Stars. Hmmmm, I wonder if my subconscious is trying to tell me something?

Any way, James made a point in his book that made me stop and think, (actually, he makes a lot of points that makes me stop and think). He wrote that the opposite of music isn’t silence—it’s noise. A sour note that ruins the harmony and distorts the melody.

After I read that I thought about what the opposite of love might be. Some would say hate. But I don’t think so. To me the opposite of love isn’t hate—it’s selfishness. It’s the what’s in it for me mindset.

The problem is with the English language. We say we love everything. We love our warm socks, our pets, traveling, chocolate, riding our bikes, our mate, our children. But does our use of love there mean the same thing for all the above?

No.

In the Greek language there are many words for love. Smart Greeks.

What they are passionate for they use eros. Whom they are fond of as friends they use phileo. Natural love of family is Storgeo. But the highest form of love— the sacrificial, unconditional kind— is agapao.

My daughter, Olivia, once said, “Hollywood film directors and producers are the prophets of our generation sending a false message of love.” I might add so do those in advertising. Most of what the media feeds us is created and based in eros. And we buy it, believing this is love.

No wonder so many relationships are built on toothpicks.

Erros says, “You look sexy, you make me feel good, you make me happy, you make me look good, you make my life easier.” Notice a trend here? It’s all about how others make us feel.

What does agapao look like?

In a word, sacrifice. It isn’t about us.  And the troublesome thing about agapao is sometimes it isn’t convenient, appreciated, and at times it even hurts our hearts. And yet, it remains. Agapao doesn’t depend on emotion, as does eros. Eros evaporates with the changing wind. Agapao cherishes, honors, accepts, is devoted and focused on others. It remains through the tough seasons of life.

This month is dedicated to love, so why don’t we give the gift of agapao—the gift of true love. And, when eros comes knocking at our door with candy and flowers—think. It isn’t our good it wants and we shouldn’t accept anything less than agapao for ourselves!

ROMANCE = LOVE?

Neal and me

I am going to write 4 romance novellas and I admit, writing romance may be difficult for me. Why? Well, it certainly isn’t because my husband isn’t romantic, because he is the prince of romance. I think it is because too many people equate romance with love. And while the two go hand in hand, like steak sauce and steak, they are not equal.

Therein lies the problem. People confuse the two. So what is love? In the English language there are many ways we use the word love: I love you, I love tiramisu, I love horror movies, I love the holidays . . . you get the picture. Most of these, like romance, are heavy in the emotional, feel good, category. So what is real love? 

The best definition I know is found in the Hebrew word agapao. It means to honor, esteem, cherish, favor, respect, accept, prize, relish, to be devoted to, be loyal to, it is the kind of love rooted in the mind and will that motivates us to actions that benefits others

And there you have it. True love primarily benefits others. While we are looking for someone to love us we are missing out on true love. Love that has less to do with emotion and everything to do with how we honor, esteem, cherish, favor, respect, accept, prize, relish, are devoted to, and loyal to. And the highest kind of love is when the person we are loving are not behaving in a way that deserves it.

The love I have described is not easy, it doesn’t always feel good, and sometimes it isn’t  recognized or appreciated. But, it is that kind of love by which Christ loves us. To love with unconditional love is hard. It takes a dedicated mindset. But when we love with this kind of love it heals and empowers us.

I read this yesterday, a prayer by Francis Frangipane and made it my prayer: Help me, Master, to recognize Your love, not as a divine emotion, but as Your very substance. Help me to see that it was neither Pilate not Satan that put You on the cross; it was love alone to which You succumbed.

EASTER IS ABOUT LOVE

Love. What is it? This is a question that has been asked throughout time. Most of us define love through our emotions. If someone looks good, treats us good, makes us feel good, arouses our senses, then it certainly “feels” like love.

But what happens when that person no longer looks good? When the stresses of life makes that person not so inclined to treat us good or makes us feel good? What about when the same old thing dulls the senses? It doesn’t “feel” like love anymore.

Love it isn’t an emotion. Emotion may be a byproduct of love, but it isn’t love.

Love is an action that benefits others. Even when it is inconvenient, painful, and unappreciated. That is how Jesus Christ loves us. Entering our human experience wasn’t convenient. It was painful. And even today, His love isn’t always appreciated.

We have heard, God is love. What does that mean?

Think of the sun. It gives us heat and light. It can’t help it. It is the sun and that is what the sun does. I can go outside and shake my fist at it and tell it I don’t want anything to do with it. But I stand outside and shake my fist too long, I will still get a sunburn. The only way I can avoid the sun is to remove myself from it. But the sun is still there, shining.

God is love. He loves us no matter what. He can’t help it. He is love. We can shake our fists at Him and tell Him we want nothing to do with him and that doesn’t change a thing. He loves us. God cannot love us more when we do good. He cannot love us less when we mess up. He is love. We can turn away from God. But He is still there, loving.

Malcolm Smith puts it this way. We can hold a glass of water and say “I have water.” But it is a different thing entirely to say, “I am water.”

God is love. Through Christ, God ratified His love. And because of this we have love. We are loved. No matter what.