What is love?

“Oh baby don’t hurt me”…ha just kidding. But who doesn’t like that song? Anyway, with Valentine’s Day coming, I was thinking about love. I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, but I’m not the Valentine’s Day Grinch either. But I figured I tossed the word “love” around a lot in this blog. And it is part of our everyday lives whether we realize it or not, whether we take it for granted or not. One of my favorite “chick flick” movies (and believe me there aren’t that many) is Love Actually. This movie captures different forms of love, not just the romantic love people tend to think of first. If you look at your life and the people in it, think of the different types of love you experience. The love between you and your grandparents, parents, siblings, significant others, extended family, and friends are all different shapes of love, but the origin remains true. And I wanted to dissect the origin of that. Love may seem simple, but such a thing, emotion, and action is far from simple. And it causes us to do some outrageous things and makes us human.

Origin of Love

How does love start? It starts when someone wants to put forth the effort to ensure someone else’s well-being without motive. Think of your parents. The bond between you and your parents, or parent figures, are probably the first love relationship you will encounter (given a non-tragic childhood). They want to ensure that you will be healthy, productive, and successful. In turn, you as a child love your parents for putting forth said effort in your life. As children get older and are less reliant, the relationship can become a more balanced relationship of giving and receiving. I will not say when this will happen because we all know children can be “children” forever. Poor parents haha.

Any type of love starts from a desire to better someone’s life without the expectation of something in return.

So from my stated origin, there comes different types of love. I’ll just touch on what I perceive as the most significant ones.

The Greatest Love of All

The greatest love of all….I don’t mess around. When I think of this, I think of a quote from Good Will Hunting. Again, a movie reference. I’m not a huge movie goer, but I think this line is perfect in describing the greatest love of all. “Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.” I would like to interject loss with love. But I suppose my point is made. The greatest love of all is when you love something more than yourself. Prime example: Jesus. Whether you are a Christian, atheist, Jew, Arab, Buddhist, etc., you cannot deny that the story of Jesus is the greatest love of all. You can believe that Jesus is not real, but the story of Jesus in the Bible is an unparalleled example of “the greatest love of all.” Ultimate sacrifice and unselfishness.  Now, does this type of love exist in current times? Of course it does. Does it exist in all married couples? No, definitely not all. Does it exist among other relationships? Of course. The greatest love of all is not exclusive. But I think the greatest love of all is incredibly rare. This is the hardest love to find on earth; hence, the hefty title.

Uncommon Special Love

This type of love is one that I hope most people will encounter at some point in their life, and may or may not be continual. It’s that special bond between two people that encompasses caring, faith, dedication, and respect. This type generally is reserved for significant others, close family and friends. It runs deep and is true. Complete self-sacrifice? Maybe not entirely, but there definitely are some significant sacrifices made. I don’t mean to make sacrifice sound daunting either. Sacrifices for another should come out of a desire rather than guilt. Uncommon special love makes us human and gives us more fulfilled lives.

The Kind and Patient Love

Yes, 1 Corinthians 13:4. I know it’s used A LOT but for good reason. This type is generally reserved for family (we need patience right?) and friends. They may not be the closest people in your lives and may not be your top priority all the time, but when push comes to shove, you’re there for them and vice versa. Also, a long lost friend comes to mind. You hold them dear in your heart, but different paths in life make it difficult to maintain an uncommon special love. You cherish the time you do have together, but it’s hard to make it a priority all the time. After all, we’re human and can’t have extremely special relationships with everyone.

The “I love sushi” love

Yes, I’ll include this ridiculousness. We often use love as a verb to show how much we really like something. And yes, sushi is amazingly good. But it’s sad to say that as much as I prioritize sushi, it will never reciprocate the same feelings. It will only temporarily fill an unfulfillable void (my stomach). So this is a pseudo-love sushi. I’m sorry.

So this is my take on love. I witness and experience love everyday. At the bedside, I usually see the heart wrenching side of love. It’s saddening, but it also exemplifies that bond greatly. We experience it everyday whether we realize it or not. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

2 thoughts on “What is love?

  1. Jesse

    I have to tackle your assertion that “Whether you are a Christian, atheist, Jew, Arab, Buddhist, etc., you cannot deny that the story of Jesus is the greatest love of all” and deny exactly that.

    The first thing to notice about gods “love” is that it is compelled. You are told, yes commanded, to love him. Something is already a bit cranky here. Isn’t it rather bizarre to be ordered to love?

    “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” – Mark 12:29-30

    Can love be coerced, demanded, forced? I say the answer is no.

    You say love is not envious, yet Jesus clearly and directly commands love of him must supersede all other concerns and loves.

    “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26

    The same deficiencies are found in that greatest supposed act of love, the crucifixion. (Isn’t the act of dying somewhat diminished if one can simply rise again? Ironically, it is only the finality of death that lends it potency and meaning, a finality that jesus never had to contend with.) Why do we need this human sacrifice in the first place, what ill am I infected with that can only be cured by a blood ritual? Original sin, the idea that we are born guilty, filthy, sinners is detestable. We are blamed for actions we took no part in, convicted for eating the apple and driving in the nails ourselves. Is it moral for a child to be punished for crimes their father committed before they were born? Who can look at a newborn baby and think of the dirt and filth and grime Christians insist their soul is burdened with? Yet they somehow do, and out comes the knife to slice at the genitalia sealing the pact with god, and under the holy water they soon go to be “cleaned” from an fabricated failing.

    Created sick, and then ordered to be well. Taught be to ashamed of yourself, told you are always falling short, told you always need fixing, even from the very moment you come into the world. This is not love.

    To pervert matters even more, we learn that should someone choose to reject these orders, they face dire consequences. You will be bereft of god’s graces in this life, followed by an eternity of torture and agony in hell. (In recent times many churches have attempted to amend the descriptions of hell into something more palatable. You hear “hell is just eternal separation from god” and other such prattle. Forget the fact that a literal hell was preached for centuries, it suffices to say there is a “good” outcome after death and a “bad” outcome after death, and that these are inherent and necessary in christian dogma.)

    So we have someone who says you share in guilt for events that took place thousands of years ago, therefore you MUST love me, and not only that, but you MUST love me more than anything else–or I will hurt you. This is the greatest example of love? No, this is abjection, this is sado-masochism, this is tyranny. This is the relationship that exists between a master and his slave. Jesus’ teachings and actions should be rejected as an examples of love, let alone love of the greatest kind.

  2. Aaaah I love this! (haha).

    Sometimes I think love is like trading in the stock market. Anyone can do it, but with an incomplete understanding you can really do it totally wrong lol. Except instead of risking money you are risking mental/emotional health.

    Sometimes the way people form beliefs reminds me of how some people use random bible quotes and ignore the context. For example “The greatest love of all is when you love something more than yourself.” I agree with this. But in context you should really be loving yourself a SMIDGE less. The best way to be there for someone else is to be the best person you can be, and you can’t be your best if you aren’t

    I think often times people hear this and it lends to the creation of co-dependency. “I care about her more than I care about myself! I am a doormat! Like love is supposed to be!”.

    Also this: “Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.” I think you just pinpointed a huge problem. People avoiding that loss by keeping love at an arms length. The closer you are to that real love, the greater the risks. But this life is filled with loss, no matter what we do. The thought that loss can be somehow controlled or managed, and if one keeps a far enough distance they can see it coming, is a false one.

    Great post!

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