I dedicate this blog to Sarena and Staci and Mary Ann and Alison (my mother)…..four women who have demonstrated remarkable strength and faith, hope, and love in the face of physical adversity. This is my 100th blog….thank you Lord for 100 opportunities to write.
Love may be the most misunderstood word in the English language. A woman told me the other day “She loves him, but is not in love with him”. If anyone can explain this to me, please add to the Reply box below.
The Bible provides definitions for two different loves:
Phileo = brotherly love (friendship love). This is exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy.
Agape = unselfish love. This speaks of the most powerful, noblest type of love: sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling — it is an act of the will. Jesus was agape love personified. Christians are to love one another with agape love, as seen by Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan.
Eros = sexual or physical love, but does not expressly appear in the Bible. In Part 2 of this topic we shall talk more about this kind of love.
Scott Peck, in “The Road Less Travelled” adds some discerning thoughts about love:
• Falling in love is the euphoric state of a new love relationship, but it only lasts 6-24 months. It feels like someone cares for us unconditionally, and seems like they will for the rest of our life. It’s a trick of the genes to get folks married. It ends because we are all basically self-centered. And when it ends, we are disappointed, sometimes enough to break up. But this is the time when Real love can begin.
• Real love is the will to nurture the (spiritual) growth of another person. It is unselfish love. It applies to different relationships: spouse/spouse; parents/children; friend/friend. More aspects of this…..Real love:
o involves the will. It is not a feeling. It is a choice. It implies effort or action when there may be no feelings.
o fosters independence. It is not picking up after someone. It is not driving your son to school when he is 13 and can catch a bus. It is not codependent.
o requires judgment. It has to be judicious about giving or withholding. Praising or criticizing. Pushing or comforting.
o means growth, which involves risk/anxiety, courage/failure, resilience, self-esteem.
This concept of Real love has been expanded by Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love Languages”:
• The book tells us how to do Real love more efficiently. If for example, you find out your partner’s principal love language is Quality Time, you will carve out special times to be available to do things with her.
• This approach has to be disciplined and unselfish, because it may not be your favorite thing to do. If she loves going to the ice-cream store to lick and sit and talk, this may be boring for you but you can make it happen.
• As a result her emotional love tank starts to fill (it builds in her a sense of intimacy, belonging, or being wanted).
• And the emotional climate improves, so that you can discuss differences and resolve conflicts more effectively.
• The opposite occurs in hurting couples: an empty love tank leads to withdrawal, criticism, harsh words….
• The need to feel loved is a huge emotional need. Without this love, a child may not develop into a responsible adult. Much of child misbehavior is due to cravings of an empty love-tank. Misbehavior can result from seeking love in all the wrong places.
So what are the five love languages?
• Words of affirmation.
• Quality time
• Receiving gifts
• Acts of service
• Physical touch
You can take a test in the back of the book to find out what is your primary love language. And find out your partner’s love language, if you happen to be married or dating.
Spiral up or spiral down? If you are meeting the love language of the other person, and they are meeting your love language, your relationship will tend to spiral upward. But the reverse is also true. If neither of you are doing this, your relationship may tend to spiral downward.
The authors mentioned above have made huge contributions to our understanding of love. And it is good to understand love, because it touches us all. The Bible says it’s the greatest thing. Eben Alexander, a neuro-surgeon who carefully documented that he went to heaven, says he discovered that love is the center of the universe.
Post-script: The Rose is one of my all-time favorite songs. Here it is sung by a trio of young ladies with an orchestra backing them. It’s a thinking song about love, and it is consistent with what’s written above. The last verse always makes me cry:
When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.
- Love is a rose (click to enlarge or to source).
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John chapter 4).
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians chapter 13).
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