Love comes in so many forms:
- For your family.
- For your spouse or significant other.
- For friends.
- For yourself.
- Agape love (God’s love for His children).
- For the things you love (music, movies, dancing, cycling etc.)
But what does it really mean. Over the years, I have been told “I love you” by people who have left me feeling anything but loved. I’ve had so many “rules” thrown at me about what they constituted as love that I have been so confused about what it is all really about. I allowed them to define love for me.
Definitions of Love
When I looked it up online, the definition was “an intense feeling of deep affection”. That is a pretty lame definition in my opinion in that there is nothing to quantify what it really means and there is nothing lasting to it. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. This is along the same lines as the other definition, but it’s nicer in that it talks about having constant affection so that even when there are disagreements and such, the affection is still there.
These definitions leave me feeling cold. They really only focus on one person in a relationship instead of both. Both fit into what I was taught about love by so many, but is that all it is? To selfishly love people isn’t really love. If your focus is always on how the other person or the relationship can benefit you, it is the absolute wrong focus and it will only hurt the other person.
When it comes to loving yourself, there is the biblical principle to love your neighbor as yourself. One of my friends is in school for her Masters. In one of her lectures, the professor stated that some take this verse and make it say “love your neighbor instead of yourself”. Because I was made to believe that asking for something from others was selfish, I fall under this thought. For this reason, I can’t really speak into this kind of love except to say that since the Bible mentions loving yourself as the example of how to love others and loving others is a main theme throughout the Bible, then there is a precedent that loving yourself is something we should do but not to the detriment of loving others. I’m still trying to figure all this out, so I’ll leave it here.
My Thoughts On Love
This is what I think love should be. To me, love focuses on the other person and what will benefit them. This only works, though, if both are focusing on what is best for the other person. When only one person is doing this then it is a one-sided love. When each person’s goal is to serve the other, then the relationship is balanced and mutual.
I know this isn’t the fullness of what love is because the Bible gives the definition of love that is above and beyond anything we can ever achieve but should always strive for. It is Agape love – the way God loves us and beyond.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I have been “loved” by many people and so much of it has left me uncertain if I could ever fully trust anyone again. However, in the last few years, I’ve realized that the people around me now really do love me. I know this with everything I am and I’m starting to lean into it. I still find myself with my walls up with enforcements way too often, but I am learning that love is something to cherish instead of something to defend myself against and distrust.
~ Joanna Lynn