So many people yearn for it. So many people fear it. Some have lost it; some hold on to it. Sometimes it’s fleeting, sometimes it lasts a lifetime. I pray every day that all people experience true love, which is to both give love and receive it without judgement, the unconditional love which seems to be so rare these days.
I have been thinking a great deal about how you know that you love someone, even just as a fellow human being. I watched a beautiful movie called The Age of Adaline, and in it a father asks his son whether he loves the woman he is about to chase after when she runs from his parent’s house. The son says “Yes, I love her.”
“How do you know?” asks the father.
“Because nothing makes sense without her.”
We all do love, in one way or another. The word love in the English language is so limited though as we can love coffee but also our soulmate. In Greek there are many different ways to express love. Love and affection for family (storge), love for and loyalty to friends (philia), even the self-compassionate love for oneself, not to be confused with vanity (philautia), intimate and romantic love for a partner both within and without (eros) and then the ultimate true unconditional love (agape) that God has for humanity. To love unconditionally, to love selflessly. That is the love I wish all to feel and give at least once in their lifetime.
So how do you know that you love someone?
The love for children or family is inherent and instantaneous, at least I hope this is the case. The love I have for my daughter is overwhelming joyful, terrifying, and beautiful because I would in an instant lay down my life for her. I love my mother, though we drive each other crazy, because even though we drive each other crazy I will show up for her, always.
The love for your friends is grown, and even if those friendships ebb and flow that deep loyal love is always there. I find that sometimes though I can love friends shortly after meeting them. I know because I would show up at 3am if they needed me and even if we don’t speak for months, we always pick up right where we left off.
It is true that to authentically love, you need to love yourself compassionately as well. That I have learnt the hard way, and I have witnessed it in many who have gone on journeys of not finding themselves but creating themselves into whom they are meant to be.
If you’ve met me, you know that I speak of love a great deal. That I want to love as much as possible in the time that is given me. I aim to love selflessly but it is not always easy, though having lost so much, I find it is how I want to love and be loved in return.
I also ask myself, if the world was ending in a day, who would I want around me? Who would I want to see and hug one last time? How many “I love you’s” would I want to share. I also want to be the person that many people would want to hug, one last time?
On your last day in this world, who would you want to see and love on?
And then I wonder about true love’s kiss. The love that you choose for a lifetime. The love that you declare before God. The love that, for a moment in time, I thought I had lost.
The love I refer to is the love of partner, of a person who loves you more than you ever imagined you could be loved. Love that grows and increases even though you never thought it possible to love someone more and more every day. The kind of love that blows your mind, love that you never realized could expand your world in ways unforeseen. Love where you want to be the best you ever and they inspire you, and motivate you, and believe in you.
The kind of love where it’s painful to be apart from them even for a few hours but you wait in patience and peace because you know you’ll love each other always. The kind of love where you don’t even think about wanting to do something wonderful for them today because it comes naturally to you. Love where you defend the person fiercely no matter what. Love where you believe in them and do everything you can to support them. Love where nothing or no one else exists on earth when you are together in passion and its pleasure beyond your wildest dreams.
Love where you sit with them in the dark, and pray, and cry, together. Love where you celebrate the joys and successes and there is never envy or doubt. Love where they make you feel like you are the most beautiful person in the world and so are they to you. No one else exists in a romantic capacity. Love in which you would willingly take all their pain and sorrow and bear it yourself so they wouldn’t have too. Then realizing that the true love between you enables you to bear any pain and sorrow the world brings together, because that just makes your love and partnership stronger. One where you willingly give and take in a holy exchange of energy and being.
Love in its truest and purest form. Where you would willingly die in a split second for your person yet fight with all the strength you never knew you had to live as long as you can, for them, and with them, or in honour of them.
I could write pages more on love like that. On love between two people who choose to love until death do them part. Yet I have found that death does not part you, if the love is true, as I have been inspired to write about above. I know that because death did us part. Because that is how I loved, and that is how I have been loved. And that is my struggle. Because I love like that, and because I believe I can love like that again and still have my prior life’s love because one’s capacity for true love is infinite. The struggle is that people don’t believe that love like that exists, there is so much fear and heartache that people resist the raw truth of it all. They seek fleeting love or lust or instant gratification. True love like that is grown and nurtured and continuously developed over years and never dies even if the person does. And one can hope to meet someone early enough who recognizes this so that you can have more years on earth together than less. Yet with love like that, even only a few months is worth it, to die knowing you truly had it, even just once. But then can you imagine having it for the rest of your life.
We all have the depth and capacity for that kind of love. That is why my heart breaks for so many. Because they have been hurt in the past by those who would never recognize a love like that. That doesn’t know that love like that even exists. Though deep down inside you know that it exists. Because that kind of love has been taught and spoken about for millennia. And my hope and prayer is that one day, that all learn to love in all the ways I have spoken of. That love, true love, conquers fear and doubt, that you, dear reader, learn to love or already love the remarkable person that you are and that you already have or that you find the love of a partner in that capacity.
And in all honesty that is my struggle with how the world has come to view love. After all I have been through in my life, the people I have lost, the journeys I have been on, the books I have read, the people I have met, the horror and beauty I have witnessed. I have come to realize that most people ask “What is the meaning of life?” when the true question should be “Who is the meaning of life?”