What do you “love”?
Who do you “love”?
Who “loves” you?
Seems the word “love” has different meanings in different contexts. If we consider what we mean when we say “love”, three general categories appear. One is the category of people, places, things or experiences we enjoy because of what we receive. This category is often where we are the one considered first and most importantly.
- I love really dark chocolate. (nothing in it for the chocolate)
- I love working out. (shocking, I know)
- I love Lake Michigan.
- I love music.
- I love my dog. (who wouldn’t)
- The list is long…
Perhaps this is more of a preference than it is love. There are better words than “love” to describe interest in these areas. It isn’t really love. We may benefit from using words more carefully.
Another category is when an act or feeling of “love” is contingent on another person’s response. Love is continued as long as it is reciprocated properly. I will do this as long as you do this. Is that love or manipulation? Sometimes it looks a lot like control. Ever heard of someone being angry because someone else he or she “loves” doesn’t do what he or she wants them to do? This pride driven pattern is often completely self-serving. Demanding something from another to appease an emptiness inside of us will never be love.
The other category is when “love” is given solely for the benefit of another, no strings attached. This is a hard one. No matter how the act of love is received, there is no room for expectations or receprocity. Love is just for love. Making choices strictly by what is best for another. There is no need for the love to be returned. Being loving is the reward even if no one sees or values it.
This is found in areas like:
- Giving financial support to someone or something which cannot be traced back to you. (no room for pride or recognition)
- Treating a “difficult” person with respect and dignity. (you might know someone in this category)
- Wanting what is best for someone who rejected you. (think about when an “ex” is seemingly doing really well in life, love and career)
- Taking care of someone who is incapable of caring for themselves or has nothing to give in return.
- Consistently considering how an action or decision will effect another. This is especially true in marriage or committed relationships.
- Putting your own desires aside for the good of another.
This kind of love is transformational. The act of giving love openly, honestly, without manipulation and being given love in the same manner is the ultimate human experience. Love is not just found in romantic relationships. It is found where ever one person values another person enough to want the best for him or her even it means they will not mutually benefit. It is a place to grow, learn and find freedom to become whole. It is often a place of self sacrifice. It can only be entered into through humility.
There is no room for regret where there is true love. How can desiring the best for another ever lead to regret? True love never dies even if the relationship changes.
Finding more love is as simple as truly loving more. It will cost you all of your pride. There you will find fulfillment beyond imagination!