Saturday, July 25, 2009

All We Need Is Love...

We all want to be loved, don’t we? But what is this thing called love?

When I think of love, so many things encompass my mind. If you asked 20 people to define love, you may get 20 different answers. Perhaps many of us don’t really understand this thing called love – even though we desire it, yearn for it and make so many choices in the pursuit of it.

If you have never felt love, seen love, given love – you are confused by those of us who spend so much time thinking about it. Because true love, deep love, passionate love - it changes you. It messes you up. In a quote from one of my favorite movies “Moonstruck”, it “ruins everything”.

Love is an emotion, a feeling, an action, a thought, a deed. It can be associated with most anything one might do on this earth. An act that appears to one person as so simple, so minute they give it little thought, can be considered one of the deepest examples of love to another.

The scripture has some things to say about love...Love is patient, love is kind, it is not quick to anger, love endures all. Such nice descriptions, such good things. But another scripture says that God is love, and that He first loved us and sent His son to die for us…. the crucifixion. Something that those of us who call upon the name of Jesus look at as the greatest example of love ever - was violent and ugly. I relate to both sides of this coin. It is the perplexity of this thing called love, on the one hand so gentle, so beautiful, and the next moment it brings a grief that can rip your heart in two.

There are times when in the loving of one person, we hurt another. Not long after Bill and I got married, my mom came to live with us. She could no longer live on her own and we welcomed her into our home. When she came to live with us we had a great deal going on. First, Bill and I were newly married. Second, I had my own business, plus a part time job. And last but not least, my youngest Anna, who was about 14 at the time, was going through a very dark period. She refused to go to school, didn’t talk (except to say “I don’t know” at evey question posed to her) and was “sulkingly” trying to adjust to a divorced and remarried mom.

The care of my mom, my business, and my daughter required a great deal of me and I had to make choices. I loved very deeply all those in this “triangle” - my mom, my partner in the business who was also my friend and my baby girl. But I knew the drowning of me would help no one and I had to choose where my attentions would lie. I chose Anna. In choosing to focus on her, I had to kick my mom out and leave the business behind. Hurting my mom and partner in the process, but I believe saving Anna’s life. And I have no doubt her life was in the balance. Thankfully, years later, Anna safely grown, I got another chance to care for my mom and reunite with my partner and friend. Love covers a multitude of sins and triumphs over all.

Where there is love, there is certainly joy, but, as mentioned before, this same love can bring raging pain and sorrow. Because when we love, we hurt. If we did not love, most likely much of the hurt would not come, but then, neither would the joy. So, this love I speak of is a choice. If we choose to open our heart to love and be loved, we also choose to open our heart to pain and sorrow.

A good example of this “schizophrenia” of love happened when Bill and I were dating. Soon after we began our relationship, I found myself in love with him, truly in love for the first time at 40 years old. The previous year, I divorced after being married 25 years, having never experienced the things I was with Bill. I was so unfamiliar with this new condition, it put me in somewhat of a panic and I was unsure what was happening to me. But as a great friendship grew into something “other than”, leaving the platonic behind and moving into courtship, I was thrilled with the wonder of being “in love”. With it, came the sense of “need” for this other person in my life. The fact was, yes, if I had to, I could live without this person, but I did not WANT TO. Having him in my life added, completed, complimented, challenged. I allowed myself to NEED him. The coolest thing…he loved me back. I was head over heels and he was too – we both jumped in and allowed this new found love to envelope us.

But, there were times when we would be together, that this overwhelming sadness would come upon me. I would be in his arms, and would begin to weep with sorrow, heaving with tears. I became filled with a sadness that did not seem to fit with this wonderful joy I had. It was the bitter and the sweet…I was so joyful that this love had come my way, but so bitter and saddened that I had lived so long without it. I had never known fully what I was missing.

Poor Bill. A perfectly good make out time interrupted by these bursts of tears. I am sure it perplexed him as much as it did me, because when these times of sorrow would come, he would ask no questions, gently lay my head on his shoulder, let me cry and with his hand on my head, softly pray in tongues over me till the tears stopped. And little by little, I was cleansed of my sorrow, able to bask in the safety of his love.

I know there are those who guard their heart from loving too deeply, afraid of hurt and pain. But of all the love I have given and all of the love I have received, the best love has always been the one given in abandon, with the whole heart. It’s the love that bares ones soul and leaves you “out there - to’ up draws” and all, nothing hidden; extreme. Have I gotten hurt? Damn right, more times than I can count. But this one thing about love I know for sure, I have never been sorry that I have given it, but regret has come when I have withheld it.

The pain of love, the joy of love. It is a mystery how the two can reside as one, but I know I can’t live without the joy of it, so for that joy I will gladly risk the pain.

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