The Qualities Of Love
You want love. And, whether we know it or not, we need its qualities. Because how we experience affection, acknowledgment, loyalty, and kindness matter more than most people care to admit.
For some strange reason these qualities have been stripped off from love, as if love was a product to do only with emotions. Yet rather than something subject merely to the rise and fall of feelings, love possesses qualities with everyday applications.
For its part, Hollywood and TV media know next to nothing about love like this. Instead, what they tend to present is mostly a tangled mess of associations, served up with slop of sickly sentimentality. That might seem harsh, but making saccharin confections is easier to make than anything epic. Besides, they’d say their business is entertainment not relationship development.
Which means, unless you’ve been privileged to grow up with loving parents or experienced love in action in other close relationships, love can appear horribly messy and immensely overdone.
In my case, my parents never evidenced a loving relationship and the word was never said. But, thankfully, I found my understanding of love through faith, backed up by grace in other relationships.
Gradually I learned that love is less dependent on the person and more on their intentions and actions. Then, even more importantly, it dawned on me: we are each the wellspring of love in our relationships, not the one we love.
When you love with compassion, integrity, and courage, that relationship continues for as long as you share those qualities. Sure, the other person may or may not reciprocate. But if your expression is kindness, persistence, and enduring sacrifice, then that relationship will keep running regardless.
Perhaps that’s why when people declare, “We broke up because we fell out of love” I flinch. Why? Because, love isn’t merely about sustaining a feeling. If it were then your ancestors would never have had such long lasting bonds. In any great relationship – be it a romance, familial connection, or enduring friendship, it’s almost certain there will be times of drought. These lean periods are normal, natural, and there to grow through, not run away from.
It is troubling that so many people appear to have not much more than the vaguest idea about love. How else could they be so disconnected with its qualities?
What is so frequently described as love is merely the exterior, where first impressions and feelings decide the shape of the relationship. Until we understand the value of love’s qualities, going further won’t occur.
By contrast, think of love with substance as something to reach for and hold dear. While our passionate needs and urges matter, they really aren’t love (though, when love weaves its way through them they too become wonderful). Getting – for all its benefits – is only a bonus that arises from something far deeper.
While it might surprise some, love of the highest kind isn’t even about our needs but the expression of our own most beautiful beliefs. Despite being frequently measured by its ease, true love takes guts.
That’s why marriage is meant to be a grand affair; why someone can be raised up from the pits of despair by the love of another, and why we hold onto believing that love actually matters.
In this oft-cynical world where so much indifference (let alone evil) is perpetrated, the old-fashioned seemingly anachronistic idea that love conquers all has a core of pure truth.
For as much as it gratifies us, it takes every bit of our best to create. For I am convinced after 37 years of life with my wife Ruth that loving with quality will always be the most magnificent thing you and I can ever do.
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