I know that others have different ideas and feelings on what love is, what loves means to them and in having my own opinions I, by no means say that they are wrong; their ideas may be different, but I don’t believe that God (or whatever higher power that you believe in) has created just one road and I try to search for similarities between our understandings, rather than harp on and pick apart differences. In the Middle East I worked for and lived with both Moslem and Jewish families and I come from a Christian background. Lots of time for finding the similarities we share.
As a Christian I believe that God is Love. I also believe that Love is action, fluid and in motion and we as humans are receptacles that can, if we so choose, be part of that flow. Our expressions of Love, our giving Love, allows the Source of Love to replenish us. The more we give the more we get. Love cannot live in a stagnant pool and quickly dries.
I also believe that there are no coincidences. Every person that we meet is for a reason and if we are aware and responsive to what we might learn from them, or be edified by, in the encounter, once again we are expressing Love; caring about what the other has to share. Too often our brains are busy fussing over the mundane details of existence to be awake and aware to the possibilities before us. I wonder how much we miss, how many moments where Love can be shared.
I’m still processing the well of wisdom that C.S. Lewis has, in his role as Christian apologist gifted us as spiritual journeymen/journeywomen. (A previous post mentions that). On a meta-level he talks of four ‘Natural Loves’: Affection, Friendship, Eros (romantic love) and Charity. Yet I have been taking to heart the distinctions that he makes between Need Love, Gift Love, and Appreciative love.
Speaking for myself, the feeling of Love is usually aroused in romantic relationships. It’s a feeling. And feelings are just smoke and mirrors that we as humans indulge. In my experience the birth of Eros can be overwhelming. Gift Love abounds, where you want to give everything of yourself to the person you are in love with. Happy days! But I have found Eros to be fickle, and too often experienced Need Love, where I, the other, or both of us stop giving and start demanding. Eros can make the heart sing or reduce it to sobs.
It is that overwhelming aspect of Eros that I am cautious of. (Maybe it is just the way that I love). Too often I become too focused on the object of my attention and lose my own way. I realise sooner or later that I have lost my direction, allowed myself to lose perspective, forget my own journey. But If I had the wisdom to hold on to faith in the road that I am walking, I would be looking for someone on the same journey. Perhaps not in her footsteps but on a parallel path. I would not be diverted from my goal and I would have met at least a friend. Romantic Love may follow, if destined, and be all the stronger for the foundation of friendship; the commonalities that are shared.
I have thought long and hard about the relationships that I have been blessed with in the past. I have tried to fit them all into the framework of Need Love, Gift Love and Appreciative Love. I have seen where and why these relationships have succeeded or failed and I have realised the part that my behaviour has played in that. The first thing that I feel when a relationship dies is loss. I think that if I acknowledged it as such and realised that a grieving process would be inevitable, it would temper the flood of Need Love that seems to overwhelm me.
It isn’t easy and often grates against my feelings, but if I am able to step back express my gratitude to God for each second that he has granted me with anyone, Need Love shrivels and dies. In its place I find Appreciative Love and that is both truth and beauty. But C.S Lewis speaks a lot more powerfully than I can.
“The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.”
“Need-love says of a woman “I cannot live without her”; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves