Monday, October 03, 2011

The Power of Love

Rack it up to the fact that I have been dating a girl that I have been thinking about the idea of love recently. It is one of the most common topics in music next to "I'm going to sex you good." We have the belief that once you find true love then you are set and nothing will stand in your way. That nothing in life is better than love.

There is a bunch of tension of when do you say it to your significant other without saying the magic phrase, "I love you". Say it too early and you'll scare the person and if you don't say it at all then the relationship has not reached a certain level.

However, billions of people have used the words "I love you" and yet you still have numerous divorces and broken relationships. Isn't the power of love suppose to save your life? The usual excuses are that the fire isn't there anymore or that there is someone else that I am attached to more. It was once said to me in a moment of passion, but when the rubber met the road, it turned out that her love led her away. Did she not mean it?

The power of love is supposed to keep you home at night, no?

I suppose it's possible that love is a limited supply and then after that the relationship better become more exciting otherwise the fire will go out and that just means that clearly the reserves of love are all gone. Break it all off. Burn the bridges. Pack it up and go home. Turn on the Smashing Pumpkins and paint on the black make-up.

It's enough to make a romantic second guess putting his heart on the line.

I have been reflecting on what does it mean to say "I love you" because I know it's significant but do we know why? Where is the power in this emotion if it doesn't seem to keep anything together.

Enough of the elusive Rob Bell rhetorical questions and start telling you what I've been thinking. I feel free to do that because why else are you reading this blog?

I think that the emotion is not capable of overcoming all obstacles. I don't believe that this emotion can keep a relationship together. I think this emotion is weak and has been fooling people for thousands of years and is perhaps the biggest farce in the human existence. This emotion will not conquer all and is doomed to fail in all cases.

I realize that many of you may be thinking that I'm a pessimist and probably don't deserve to have such a lovely girl like me. But hold on.

I believe that love is not an emotion. It never has been.

Many of our problems stem from the fact that many people believe that love is a feeling. We think it's that feeling when you see that special someone. It's that feeling when you kiss them. It's the feeling when you receive a hug from a family member. It's the feeling when you do good for the homeless man. We believe that love is an emotion like happiness, anger or sadness.

The problem is how we associate love. When we are with our special someone that we adore, we have a good feeling and thus love must be that good feeling and thus we do loving things for them. I propose that you adore the special someone and that good feeling is affection and the doing loving things is actually loving.

Love is a choice and it's an action. It's not that mushy feeling you get. That mushy feeling is happiness or affection. If you can learn the difference between love the action and love the feeling (which is not love at all) then you might find that why difficulties in relationships creep in because this drastically affects your perspective and approach.

Suddenly ideas like unconditional love make sense. Unconditional love is not that you feel mushy inside for the homeless man or for the starving orphans in Africa, but rather the fact that you love (do something for) them despite the fact you do not have mushy feelings for them. If you think that having a mushy feeling is what God means by loving the least of your brothers, you are missing it. It brings me once again to James 2 where it talks about how it is not sufficient to say "be well-fed and clothed" and then walk away. It seems that it would be better for you to help a brother in need and feel nothing than to feel all the sympathy in the world for them and do nothing.

Suddenly, it should be a call to those in abusive relationships that love does not involve beating them. Love does not involve oppressive acts. Love is not empty words said in a really sincere way. Love is all about the acts that comfort, support, and encourage.

On the flip side, love is not about about what you want. It's not heading for the door when you get bored with the person who is not that exciting mystery anymore. It's not leaving to go be with that new found person who makes you feel mushy inside. Divorce shouldn't just be the answer just because the mushy feelings are no more.

Suddenly passages like that of 1 Corinthians 13 takes on a whole different meaning.
"Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than for self
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when other grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end." (The Message)
If these things are based out of the idea that love is a choice, it means that we are actively contemplating our interactions instead of trying to fill our hearts with mushy feelings so that way we attain those attributes.

Love is active, not a descriptor of how you feel.

So what is the point of feeling sympathy or feeling attracted to individuals? I think these things can push us to act more loving because it is easier to love someone when you are sympathetic to them. This is why it is good to learn the stories of others. This is why it is good to understand others and spend time with them. It makes our defensive human spirits and softens them so we are more willing to show love to them.

If love is a mushy feeling, then what does "I love you" mean? It means you have a mushy feeling towards me. Great. Thank you. I hope you feel better.

If love is a choice and action, then you shouldn't even need to say the words because they one you love would already know. In essence, the three word sentence "I love you" does not make sense. I suppose the one way it does is if it is a promise saying, "I will care for you". It just doesn't sound as poetic. So, "I love you" will do. It also adds a new dimension of saying that you choose them. That they are dear to you and that if times when you are angry with them, you will still love them. That if you are disappointed in them, you will still love them. It is more than mushy feelings. It is a vow.

The idea of true love is a farce the way it is traditionally understood. You will not have those mushy feelings forever and if you expect to for the rest of your life, you will be disappointed and disillusioned. Those mushy feelings are good for the reason that it allows you to attach yourself to the person. That it helps you give grace to the one you are attracted to because you are willing to overlook their mistakes and you may work through problems together. It allows you the time it takes to learn how to live with another. 

Now, marriage takes on a different significance. It's not just a gamble on how long will the mushy feelings last, but rather the official announcement that you are going to live your lives together and choose to love the person everyday regardless of the mushiness of your heart. It is honourable. It is forged. It is strong. THAT is the power of love.

"Saying 'I love you'
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It's not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew how easy
It would be to show me how you feel
More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know."
"More Than Words" from Extreme's album "Extreme II: Pornograffiti"

1 comment:

Matthew said...

"Unconditional love is not that you feel mushy inside for the homeless man or for the starving orphans in Africa, but rather the fact that you love (do something for) them despite the fact you do not have mushy feelings for them. If you think that having a mushy feeling is what God means by loving the least of your brothers, you are missing it."

Oh, snap! Yes, this is convicting to me, too.

"Love is active, not a descriptor of how you feel."

Yeah, that seems to be so very true. I'm glad you could flesh out some of these thoughts more fully. They're helpful to think more deeply about, for sure.