What is the real meaning of love?


In life, we often express ourselves by offering words of kindness which are most commonly used as a ritual of saying goodbye.  I find, “I love you” being used fairly frequently as one example.  So I ask, What does it mean to love?

Let’s begin by talking about “things” we love other than people to see if the two can be tied together.  I love the water and nearly everything you can do in or with water: swim, water ski, wakeboard, surf, dive, boat, fish, clean, water falls, rivers, lakes, etc.  I know many who love individual sports, my nephew is an avid soccer player who lives for the sport as a talented player and an active spectator.  My wife and daughters ride dressage, you can bet they love their horses and are found with them multiple times a week.

We love Ferris wheels, the big yellow slides at the State fair, favorite places, and special events.  I really love to hear Olivia Newton John sing because I lived in Australia, and I grew up listening to her in my youth.  I love certain smells as they bring to mind fond memories.  I hold a special place in my heart for those in my past whom I no longer have contact with, mainly because we grew apart, but too because they played a role for the time they were there.

Some suggest they love their occupations, others their home, some the outdoors, and on and on.  Are these examples really love?  Perhaps, yet at a lower level the progression love takes as we truly learn to love deeply.

Here are some examples: As I have said, I hold a level of love for hearing Olivia Newton John sing.  I feel it is primarily due to the “memories” I recall while listening.  There are many other songs which align more readily with who I am today.  As I listen to Olivia, she brings back recollections of my past, which are fond; yet they are in my past.  This can be said for those “friends” who have come and gone as well.  They enter our world placing influence where needed at the time, yet our separation came as a result of being “different” enough as to allow for the detachment.  Should we reconnect, as with a song, it floods our minds with memories of how it was; often making us unable to recognize we are each significantly different people now.

Neil Diamond sings of “loves illusions,” suggesting we really don’t know love at all.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now

From give and take, and still somehow

It’s love’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know love at all

It is clear we can be deceived by what we think love is, or that it exists when it really doesn’t.  This is why I want to delve even deeper into what love is.

The word “love” can have a variety of meanings used in different contexts as I have suggested.  It can refer to quite a diversity of attitudes, feelings, or states.  They can range from interpersonal attraction to pleasure.  Pleasure as in “I love to swim” attraction meaning, “I love my spouse.”  Love can represent a virtue as in affection, compassion, or kindness.  It can be an emotion allowing for affection or personal attachment.

The “love” I want to conclude with is that which is contained within significant relationships among us as human beings.  Love in this context can be simplified to be, “Our unselfish concern for the good of another.”  When we love, we are loyal, we contain within ourselves a benevolent devotion to another’s well being.  The differing types of love within the human family are simply variations defined by the relationship: family members, friends, and couples.

Family: What about a Mother’s love?  I have written many pieces on this type of love.  I will shorten what my observations are to suggest this love is never ending.  It rarely, if only briefly, is ever interrupted, yet when it is, it is through misunderstanding during heightened emotions correcting coarse immediately.  It places those loved in safety knowing it can always be relied on.  This love is immediate, it comes from deep within a heart; arguably from another realm.  It encourages, it forgives, it comforts, it builds, and most importantly; generates the foundation our lives are built on.

Friends: On love for our friends I have written:

“Some come and leave, fulfilling a single purpose; others, for a time or a season to teach us by sharing their experiences; and last, a select few who participate forever with relationships that endure through eternity.”

I posted this on facebook today: “When you are serving to change the life of another… You are at the very same time, changing your own in a very dramatic way…”  Friends are there for us, they understand us, they accept us even with our faults, and they help build us to better ourselves, which allows for their growth too.

Couples: Lastly, our significant others.  This is the deepest, most abiding love that can be found on the spectrum of love.  It is the crown jewel which completely fills our souls.  This love takes the bumps a bruises of life and places beauty where others may never understand.  The outside world could see age stripping what society may define as elegance by seeing scars, weight, or other outward appearances perceived as below standard.  While the loving partner clearly sees and identifies these characteristic as: Life events, sacrifice, child birth, effective and necessary worry, giving beyond ability, and providing for others above self.  The beauty that exists between couples is completely blind to what the world may see or misinterpret.  It is this love that exists on a level where two souls unite into one.

Unfortunately, we sometimes get to a place where we allow those we love the most; to be treated less than the love that exists in our hearts.  We can fall into a trap of believing the love extends beyond offense or doesn’t require the nourishment that gave rise to this level of completeness.  For those of us who have faltered in this regard, sometimes painful awakenings realign our hearts.

The reunion of discovery allows for glorious recognition and a reacquaintance to what had been forgotten.  For those who haven’t, or may be on a slippery slope, notice now, learn from others, be reminded that through giving much is received.  Understanding this principal of life will create relationships found on the highest sphere of joy.

In the bible, the apostle Paul taught about love; he called it charity.  Replace the word charity with love as you read, or know that charity is pure love.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Know now, and forever more, that “love” is the breath of life, and that through giving of it freely; you will receive more than your heart can bare!

With all my love…


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