The Greatest Adventure (and true and false versions of love)
According to Google, “Love” is the word that is most sought out in the Google search bar. What is ‘love’ though? Dictionary.com says that “Love” is a noun as well as a verb -noun 1. profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. 3. sexual passion or desire. -verb 1. love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets. 2. without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love. 3. to embrace and kiss as lovers. 4. to engage in sexual activity.
There are many poems about love. Here’s one:
If I could have just one wish, I would wish to wake up every day to the sound of your breath on my neck, the warmth of your lips on my cheek, the touch of your fingers on my skin, and the feel of your heart beating with mine Knowing that I could never find that feeling with anyone other than you. – Courtney Kuchta
There are even love calculators based just on the names of partners (I don’t recommend them).
When we watch movies they are full of claims about love. Most of them are much more in the area of infatuation and emotional feelings. And Hollywood is full of marriages that have broken apart when the feeling changes after some time as always happens?
Is that real love, or is there something deeper? What is real genuine love.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7,13
Dr. Michael Tobin, a Jewish psychologist, has a very insightful article on love. He writes:
The test for true soul mates is to learn how to create a love that succeeds in breaking down the barriers of ego and selfishness enabling one another to reach genuine intimacy.
To succeed, however, we must make a very clear distinction between the simplistic definition of love that we’ve been brainwashed to accept and the deeper meaning of love that forms the basis of a true intimate connection.
The Language of Love
Much of our misperception of love is based on how we use it in our everyday speech. For example, take the expression:“We fall in love.”
Fall means to stumble, to trip, to lose one’s balance — to be out of control. Is love then an accident, an unconscious descent into the unknown? Is love something that bypasses conscious choice and rationality? From our use of language you would have no concept of love as a creative act. Too many of us think that love just happens.
Yet, contemporary language takes us far beyond the falling metaphor to describe the experience of love. It’s not just an accident; it’s madness. Look how we describe being in love: “I’m crazy about you.” “She’s mad about him.” “He’s gone absolutely nuts over her.” “I can’t live without you.”
You would think from these descriptions that love is a temporary state of madness, a delusion, a psychotic episode. One would assume from this process of love that first you have an accidental experience and “fall in love” followed by a condition of temporary insanity called “being in love” in which there is a deep sense that I am nothing without you.
We might also believe that as mysterious as it is to fall into love, it’s equally as irrational to fall out of love. Does a person suddenly reach a euphoric state and then, just as quickly, feel it wear off, only to return to a state of emptiness and despair? If this is what love is, then it’s not surprising that relationships have such trouble. How can you possibly succeed at something over which you have no control or for which you take no responsibility?
What Love Is and Isn’t
We need to come up with a better definition of what love is, one which will help us to understand what relationships are and how we can succeed at love.
First, let me tell you what love is not. It’s not a dreamy, blissful state where all fears, doubts, and worries melt away as we merge into one flesh. And it’s not those glorious first moments when you were swept away on a wave of ecstasy, though I know that’s what the music industry and Hollywood would like us to believe.
Real love is not synonymous with losing control or going crazy. It’s not an obsessive state in which another’s spirit takes possession over you. In real love you don’t lose yourself and in real love you can live without the other person. This mistaken form of obsessive love may serve as a temporary antidote to loneliness, depression and insecurity, but it’s not true love.
So what is love? Love is the constant choice to give to another.
The answer to that question can be found in the ancient language of Hebrew. In Hebrew the word for love is “ahava.” Every Hebrew word has its root word from which its meaning is derived. The root word of ahava is hav, which means to give. In other words, loving is synonymous with giving. Love is the constant choice to give to another. You don’t fall in love; you create love. You act lovingly, by giving to your partner. As a function of giving, we create love. The more of yourself you invest in anything or anybody, the more attached you feel to that other thing or other person. A house you build with your hands is a house that you love.
Most of us wait passively to let love act upon us. We erroneously define love as need fulfillment, as the experience of being filled up by another. We often evaluate relationships based on how it benefits us, the expectation being that our partner is here to give to us.
This is not love. Love is about taking a quantum leap from being self-centered to other-centered.
The great challenge for each of us — to borrow a concept from John F. Kennedy — is “to ask not what my partner can do for me but ask what I can do for my partner.” This is how we create genuine, deep love.
Working Toward Love