What Love is… or Perhaps Isn’t…

peter ustinov

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit” ~Peter Ustinov.

A few years back, I was on a very long interstate car ride and listening to Delilah (desperate listening: most stations were too static).  A man called in to request a song for his true love, the woman he would soon would be married to. He gushed about how much he loved his bride to be, how wonderful she was, how lucky and happy he was.

Delilah asked him, “What is it about her that makes her so wonderful, that makes you love her so much?”

He responded enthusiastically,  “She loves everything about me! I just love her so much for loving me!”

WRONG ANSWER!

BONG! (Not the cannabis bong, but the loud noise from a bell bong that means: WRONG ANSWER!!

He had a lot to learn…

A friend once counseled my husband-to-be and myself about things to expect when we got married. One of those things was attention. That wiser-person-than-ourselves told us to expect that once children came: the level of attention we would give to one another would decrease greatly, and that at times we’d be exhausted, walking about like zombies, while caring for home, job, and children. Many times those words, like wind chimes in a hurricane, came back to haunt me. Truer words were never spoken, especially the zombie part…

“Love,” at times, meant that our relationship persevered in staggering chaos and with little to no attention given to each other!  (We tried, but sometimes, for long periods of time, we were barely getting by, much less lavishing attentions upon each other!)

Date night? Did that count the times we took the kids to McDonald’s and chased them all around Play Place? Or perhaps the times we took them for ice cream and chased them all over the place, or the park and chased them all over the place, or the zoo and chased them all over the place or the grocery store and chased them all over the place…

Will Delilah’s caller be able to persevere when his “true-love-because-she-loves-me-so-much” bride can’t ‘love’ him with so much affection as children, exhaustion,  and life pull her energies from her attentiveness to him?

Love is something you receive AND GIVE. Oftentimes it might be something you can only give, as your partner may be exhausted, overworked, clueless, or a mere mortal after hearts 2all…    Will his love survive then? Or was his love only a self absorbing ego trip? Time will tell.

The Way of Love has a name: it is Sacrifice. ~St. Josemaria Escriva

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6 thoughts on “What Love is… or Perhaps Isn’t…

  1. I am reminded of a conversation with a prisoner who was soon to be married. He was never going to be released. So I asked him why he was doing that. He answered, “I just want to know there is someone out there who loves me.”

    Perhaps the caller had that foundational need to be loved. Looking back through the lens of a 53 year marriage, I would suggest that his answer wasn’t so much wrong as it is his awaiting the loving and giving part of love yet to be revealed to him.

    We of the Christian faith know what it is like to be loved unconditionally. From that emerges the capacity not so much to be loved as to love.

    • Great words Tom and I’d wondered about those prisoners who marry. Makes sense. I agree that love is something that has to be learned. I saw a news story about a young lady who was given the opportunity to get out of her life of drugs and get an education due to the support of an anonymous couple who funded it, through social services, for her and other young adults in the quest for education. This girl realized, “This is it- I have a chance!” She turned her life around, went to college and got a job. When asked how she was such a success story, she said that it was her Uncle’s unconditional love and encouragement that gave her the confidence to succeed. He lived in her family’s home, and was always encouraging her when she was young, that she was smart, she could do anything, and she knew he loved her unconditionally.

    • Good observation!

      This post brings to mind this Bible verse.

      1 John 4:19 New King James Version (NKJV)

      19 We love Him because He first loved us.

      Because God loves us — when our parents, our brothers and sisters, and neighbors love us — we begin to learn when it means to be loved. We begin to understand what a gift it is to love someone.

      What the caller might have added is that I love her because I so much appreciate her love. I am so thankful I want to give back the only thing I have that might be worthy. I want her to know how much I love and appreciate being loved by her.

      So does this post make a good point? Is there more the caller might have said? Yes, success in marriage involves a serious commitment. We make that commitment because we love someone, but the hard part is keeping that commitment. We keep that commitment because we will to love someone even when doing so has become quite unpleasant.

      To love thoughtlessly is to be spiritually immature (Hebrews 5:12-14). We must move beyond elementary principles. True Christian success requires us to move beyond elementary principles or remain babes. True Christian success requires us to understand and accept the consequences of our choices.

      Still we love because we are thankful someone loved us first. This is fundamental. Consider. What is the most abhorrent corruption of love? Is it not pride? Don’t the most sinfully proud and arrogant love only themselves? Don’t these accept being loved — adored — as their right, but do they love anyone else in return? Doesn’t this condition, to have been loved but to never love in return, describe the most foul thing we suspect about the heart of Satan?

      • You are so right Tom.
        As Christ said, “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
        I think the couple does the same for each other- The wife often sacrifices her sleep, youth, figure, and often her dreams for the family, serving in ways despised by the world. The husband works himself to the bone to support the family, sharing all he earns to house and feed his family…
        Love proves that it is beautiful and gives joy to all whom we serve and help.

  2. Michelle M-Don’t want this to sound trite, but this is “lovely.” I think you are really on to something with the implicit connection between wife/husband love and children – my experience was/is that having children most always makes a parent focus on someone other than oneself, and do it selflessly; and then one realized, hey this other guy [or gal] is in this with me, here with me, we are lovingly sacrificing together. This realization and this “together” is the polar opposite of the (MNM)3 empty spirit of our day. That ongoing everyday love glues husband and wife together spiritually. [and often the silly fools then make another one of those kids!]. So , , . . . . now where is your poem that says this clearly and succinctly? Thanks for the insights, Guy McClung, San Antonio TX

    “(MNM)3” = me me me now now now more more more

  3. Thanks Guy~ I think that in our prosperous country, many don’t realize the sacrifices their parents made so that they could have all the material accommodations they’ve had while growing up. My dad was an immigrant- he worked SO hard around the clock, and sometimes was short of $$. But he and my mom were good examples to me because they stayed together, went out on dates, and were respectful and loving towards each other. I felt safe and secure. How many haven’t had this good example! How many only know love as a warm fuzzy ‘feeling’ that makes them forget, for a time, their internal misery? How many substitute alcohol and drugs, shopping till they drop, parties, entertainments, sex, and control for love- not knowing the difference?
    Once when a young person asked me to explain love and sacrifice, I compared it with their caring for their puppy. “You know how cute a puppy is, when you’re cleaning up after it, feeding it, playing with it, taking it to the vet- you don’t think it is a sacrifice because you love it so much. That is love. You don’t think of or dwell on the cost, because sacrifice, when coated with love, becomes sweet and the burden lite.

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