This really hit home. “Love” is one of those words I have battled with for a long time, as it is one of the most watered down terms in the English language. I love my car, this pizza, my house, this website, my daughter. Which one of those is not like the other? We all easily understand that daughters are vastly more important than any of those others, so why then do we apply this term? Maybe because some of us have been conditioned over the years to hear that term in conjunction with a God that loves us but has no problem sending the difficult “children” to burn in Hell. It could also be because some have been wired by a society that says “you must love to be happy.” In the latter case, one can see a single person would need to fill their lives with “love” of objects to achieve happiness. In the first case, it is unlikely that anyone in the group gets a positive definition of love. One could turn to family to seek it, yet I know plenty of people who have been abandoned emotionally or physically by a parent or sibling. Obviously, that creates all kinds of pathology. All this taken into consideration, “love” must come from the few places where “unconditional love” occurs for it to truly support the weight it is supposed to carry.
A blog entry published by Seth Adam Smith does one of the best jobs a defining the behaviors leading to fulfillment of the very high bar set by the ideal. He writes, ”
you will discover that you’ve married someone who is just as imperfect as you. And they, in turn, will come to learn that you have problems, insecurities, struggles, quirks–and body odor–just as real as theirs! Then you will realize that real love isn’t just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling–it’s a deliberate choice–a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Of course, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, but you definitely choose who you fall in love with and (more importantly) who you stay in love with.”
Nailed it. I agree with this because it brings up the idea of commitment being the defining behavior to the elusive “love” feelings. I didn’t know what real commitment was until my daughter was born. I cannot run from my daughter; I choose to never abandon her. Anyone who has similar feelings as I can sometimes say “they know what love really is,” yet I see that as missing the mark. “Love” is only a word, it cannot carry the burden society has piled on top of it. It means a thousand different behavioral traits that become evident every day. Seth tells a story about his grandparents in an everyday setting that would make most of us very uncomfortable especially if it involved a stranger, but most of us can think of someone we “love” knowing we would behave the same as his grandfather. Being committed to someone is perhaps easier to define. The blog entry does a wonderful job illustrating with,” We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.” Committed.
Once one puts into perspective that feeling attracted to someone is pure brain chemistry, the realization of choice begins to take on an even larger role than before, and its role is gargantuan. We each have to choose to not run away, or put it however. Fight, struggle, hang-on, whatever you like, it still comes down to behaving a certain way, a choice to be honest and moral with them and yourself. So the next time you say, “I love you,” to someone, please remember what they will expect out of you. Maybe choose another word if behaviors won’t really line up with what they think of love, or what you would want out of someone who loved you, there is no need for hypocrisy. Life will be hard enough.