What Is Love?
What is love? Well, that’s a question and a half, isn’t it?
“All you need is love.”
“Love is a battlefield.”
“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”
“What’s love got to do with it?”
(Insert a gazillion song titles here.)
“Love your neighbor.”
“God is love.”
No wonder there’s some confusion about love in our mainstream culture. Love is one of the most overused English words – and one of the least used human qualities. Far too many people in the world are not loved by others – and do not know that they are divinely and infinitely loved. And, yet, those who have very little experience with real love still have an innate longing and need for it.
Our society offers romantic love as the highest form of love, leaving many disillusioned when they cannot find a partner with whom to live up to that ideal. Yet, even this ideal that society offers falls short of the highest form of love. What, then, do we teach our children about love?
Along with, “Who is God?” and “What is the soul?” I tried to answer the question “What is love?” for my nephews when they were very young. This is what I told them:
When we say “love” we can mean different things. Sometimes, we mean that we really, really like something. I say, “I love pie” or, “I love books.” What are some of the things that you love like this?
The best kind of love, true love, means much more than really, really liking something. This kind of love is bigger than big – it can never be measured – and it never ends. This is the kind of love that a grown up means when he or she says, “I love my daughter” or, “I love my son.” Who do you love like this?
Sometimes, you can truly love a person and not like something that that person does. So, even when you feel, at the moment, that you don’t really like your brother or sister, or even your parents, you can still love them. Because liking can change – but true loving does not change.
This true love is the God kind of love. It lasts forever. It’s like when a grownup might hold open his arms really wide and say, “I love you thiiiiis much!” When a person does that, his hands might not be bent in like he’s holding some imaginary thing. Instead, they might be open with the fingers pointing forever in both directions. This is because, when we truly love someone with the God kind of love, that love is too big to hold. There is always more. We can never run out of true love because it is infinite, without end.
When we love someone like this, we are loving as God loves. Because God loves us infinitely, forever. God tells us and shows us that He loves us in and through Jesus. When we see Jesus on the Cross, we see how much God loves us. This is how God says, “I love you thiiiiis much!”
Whenever we see a crucifix, we remember that God loves us always and forever.
Remember, God created all of us because He loves us. He created you because He loves you. God loved you even before He formed your body in your mommy’s belly. He gave you your soul and it’s your soul that makes your body alive. And your soul lives forever – just like the God kind of love lasts forever.
© 2018 Christina Chase
Photo credit: Aaron Burden
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
Good to see you still writing – is this connected to the Book?
I’ve been reading Fr Andrew again, the Anglican Franciscan who died in 1947. Lots of thoughts tie in with yours, such as
” Our Lord understood all the widow’s brave life and humble sacrifice, and His judgement was, ‘She has given MORE than anyone else.’ Well now, there are ‘mites’ of penitence, and ‘mites’ of spiritual capacity. ‘She has done what she could,’ He said of another, who only cried and washed His feet. You see, he understood her, and he understands you and me.
“God bless and keep and guide you, my dear child.”
This post contains material written before, though never shared here, with a new introduction. (Same with the two previous posts. Need time to work on my book revision, including new chapters!) The book itself isn’t directly connected to the subject, but, since the book is a collection of reflections on God Incarnate and the sacredness of being human – well, everything is connected. 🙂
And the words that you shared from Fr. Andrew are very closely connected to a chapter/reflection in the book! The section is centered on the healing miracles of Jesus and, so, contains reflections on disability and disease here and now. In fact, your quote is so closely related that, for a moment, I thought I had accidentally posted part of the chapter! I’m particularly grateful for the reference to the woman “who only cried and washed His feet.” Another interesting angle…
Thank you! And may “God bless you and keep you and guide you, my dear child.”
Hi Christina, little albert here. I used to like to think I’m grown-up, but when confronted with the “arms thissss wide” explanation of the cross, I find myself reverting—not to childlike acceptance but to a kind of adolescent need to have everything fit together, no missing parts, no contradictions.That doesn’t preclude faith (I hope). More likely it means i find it hard that faith isnt easy–as, say, a child’s faith in his mother or her father & vice versa.
The cross has always scared me. How could all that pain, humiliation, agony be related to love? I mean, it’s not as it it was a rescue mission exactly, not like throwing oneself in front of a car to save a friend, or not like a soldier facing danger willingly to preserve the life and values of his loved ones. Besides, I’m not that bad a person, am I?, that Jesus needed to be tortured so I could be even better? These were some childhood thoughts that keep making themselves known at odd times, in spite of everything I do to transform them into theology. But that’s my problem, and seeing you make the connection that I couldn’t make (In my little mind) helps me acknowledge that.
You’d think that by now I would have understood that faith is not the same as understanding. Well, I’m pretty sure I did yesterday, but each day starts all over again. Not complaining though. Just spraying how good it is to know others who help me reflect on these things.
Hey there, little Albert – I’m grateful that you’re here reflecting with me on these infinitely big ideas. Like you, I have to remember that faith isn’t the same as understanding. And I don’t understand sin very well, or salvation and all that Christ on the Cross accomplishes for us. But, I do believe I understand a little bit more about love and how we are willing to suffer for those that we love. Here are some more thoughts on the Cross (which I think is supposed to scare us in a way) that I’m incorporating into a part of my book (at least in its current revision.) https://divineincarnate.com/2014/03/31/blood-thirst/
I pray you are having a blessed Holy Week and will have a joyous Easter, whether you are celebrating the Eastern or the Western tradition!
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