What is Love? Guest Post No. 3
with her husband Keith and they have two adult daughters.
To love is to want what is best for the object of that love
Many years ago someone shared with me this definition for the meaning of love: to love is to want what is best for the object of that love. In theory, that definition makes it fairly easy to show love to another; in fact, to show love to lots of others. (However, it does require a level of selflessness that can inhibit the ease of executing the love.)
When I was a girl, wanting what was best for our pet dog included training him not to eat everything he put in her mouth as well as teaching him to stay out of the street because of the danger of passing cars. Perhaps a childish example … but we all start learning love in childish ways.
Making adjustments to do what was best for Mom was a way I could show her that I loved her
As I matured, so did that desire to want what was best for those I loved. One of the biggest lessons I learned about love came from the opportunity to assist my dad in caring for my mom after her brain surgery. She was left very much like a stroke victim from her two surgeries. In the hospital, it was best for her not to be pushed to talk much or think too hard about things as her brain needed time to recover from the trauma of the surgery. As she learned to walk again it was best for her to have me walk close by her side to steady her and be her crutch when necessary. When she was able to come home from the hospital it was best for her that she never be left alone lest she lose her balance and risk an injury from a fall. Making adjustments to do what was best for Mom was a way I could show her that I loved her.
An energized, excited commitment
But, showing love to my dog and my mom does not mean I was IN love with them. I loved them, but was not in love with them. In my opinion, being IN love includes not only the desire to do what is best for the other person but also an energized, excited commitment to do it for life, no matter the cost. And, you can bet that a life time commitment will require some ‘costs’ along the way but the rewards far outweigh the sacrifice. After 30 years of marriage, I can say I’m still in love with my husband and thankful we tied the knot for life. To experience that level of being ‘all in’ relationally involves a level of comfort with each other that provides a safe place for your body and soul while realizing you are stronger together than you could be apart.
Being in love is an exciting adventure and a calming refuge. It is a reciprocal experience that differs from loving someone or something, and enriches life in mysterious ways.