What is love? About true love

There is no person without talent of love

Once I asked schoolchildren how they understand love. The answers were very different, their understanding of love was much richer than that of grown-ups.

I asked if they had ever experienced love for someone. They responded that loved their mothers, fathers, dogs, parrots, etc.

What did they feel on a sense level? They all gave the same reply – warmth, that is, the feature of love is warmth in the heart and soul.

That’s right, there are warmth, sympathy and attraction that arise between two people who have fallen in love. I mean, some little signals appear. But you’d better check if it’s really love and not something else because by far not every attraction can be called "love".

One of the definitions of love sounds like this: love is labor. However, if you tell such a thing to young people, they may not want to create a family because the very idea is frightening to them. They might think something like, "why should I work if I can live for my own pleasure?" Yes, relationships without any responsibility can be very pleasurable. Nevertheless, without learning the innermost of your partner, without efforts leading to the harmonious intimacy the relationships can be very boring and incomplete.

Love is also a divine grace. Since God is Love, He gave us this grace from the very beginning when created Adam and Eve. Now, how are we similar to God? God is the Creator. After each act of creation He admired the results. In each person, too, there is a divine spark – the talent of love. We should develop this talent, and by doing so we become similar to God. The creative touch is within each of us and love is a creative work. Each person has gone through some creative process. For example, an artist having finished his painting feels happy and satisfied, especially if viewers admire his work.

Love is similar to the creative process. When we overcome some difficulties and barriers in a family life and the results appear to be good, we gain self-respect. "I got over it, it feels great!" This process gives us an opportunity to learn ourselves better. One way or another, we fulfill God’s rule, that is "Thou shall love the Lord thy God; and thy neighbor as thyself". In the process of loving someone else we study ourselves, that degree to which we accept and respect our own personality. Family is a school of love where we learn to love ourselves through other people.

– How do I know if it’s love?

- Probably, such signs as peace, comfort and safety you feel being together with your partner can tell that love is there, as well as your trust to him and when you do not have an intention to break up. Love is a process of being together and when you have a lot in common. Figuring out that true love has found you and your partner is trustworthy may take a long time. However, the first stage of relationships is based on the fact that he meets your idea of husband and father.

– Can selfishness and love coexist? Can it be the case when one partner feels comfortable and the other doesn’t?

– Sometimes two people can live together for quite a while but a man will leave afterwards. Why? It seemed they felt good together. But it could be one-sided sensation when only a woman had all the benefits. The man who tried to win his woman for many years and finally succeeded was the one doing all the giving, and the woman was just accepting his love. Eventually the spring of love depleted and the man left. The woman finally had to admit the fact she was only a taker. Was it selfishness?

People always know how much they give and take. Pure joy does not come right away, you need to develop certain qualities within yourself. With time you learn not to expect anything in return. But at the beginning of relationships there are all kinds of expectations. You may expect attention, gratitude and so on. It's a pity that people having become closer don’t want to keep courtesy to each other, they forget saying simple words such as "sorry", "please" and "thank you". Why bother if everything is clear? People lose some important good habits once got used to each other. They say that women love with their ears which means it's very important for them to hear nice words such as "you are my love", "you are so beautiful", etc. As for a man, encouragement is of a great importance, you have to emphasize his manly qualities, tell him how brave, responsible he is and stuff like that.

It's essential. We cannot become highly spiritual at once, each stage of our development requires its own specific signs of attention. What will happen to a child if we do not encourage him? In case of lack of attention such a kid will be nervous, can even get sick. By showing your attention you demonstrate your love. If you praise someone and assume that the qualities you praise are given by God, it means you praise God Himself. All the virtues are traits of God and not our own.

Selfishness is self-love. Love to yourself and self-love are two different things. To love yourself means to love God within you, something that is good in you and is given by God.

– Can a person that often changes partners find his/her true love?

– Such a person is lost. If someone seeks love by entering into intimacy, it's hard to tell when this person will find his love if he will at all. Perhaps such behavior covers some hang-ups. It’s like biting off pieces of spice cake looking for something tasty. The excuse sounds like ‘I'm looking for love’. But what about that cake that has been bitten off? Who will finish eating somebody else’s piece? Nobody is going to like that. It's wrong to think only about your own personal pleasure. I mean, what about those people that were left behind? Can you imagine the feelings the betrayed and abandoned person stays with?

– Is it possible to augment love within yourself?

– Love is a talent. You know the Gospel parable about the talents. The master gave talents to his workers and later they came to give a report. The person who was given 5 talents increased them and returned 20 talents. Another one having 3 talents increased them to 6 talents. The person with only 1 talent said, "I was afraid of you so much that I buried my talent". The master responded, "You are a lazy and faithless slave, you will go to the fires of Hades".

Such behavior says that we tend to be stingy. Everyone has been given a talent of love, we all want to love and be loved. However, this desire depends on our need to augment this talent. Some people are afraid to act in this direction, they are being greedy, and some of them have fear of being used and manipulated. This is all about our faint-heartedness and lack of faith. We think that we are owners of our good qualities though they were given by God for us to use and increase. As it’s said, the giving hand will never grow scarce.

I think I have acquired love for those close to me, and this was the most important achievement of mine. How did it happen? First, love appeared like a spark. It was as if a lightning ran though my heart. In my understanding, it was the Lord knocking on the door of my soul. Afterwards I felt a strong motivation to gain love for those close to me since there was no love there before. You see, I was ruining the relationships for a long time. I didn't do it on purpose but my family life was not happy and I made a lot of mistakes. So, the call of God to discover the true feeling within myself followed some personal shocks and severe internal crisis.

No one can live without God and love, he'll suffocate. Now, what is hell? It's loneliness, an abyss, a place separated from God. The true love is certainly bond with having God in your soul. This is what we all are wending to. If God is love, then we are constantly approaching to God and true love. Sometimes the whole lifetime is not enough for that, indeed.

– How can we learn to love?

Actually, life itself is a school of love. You can learn to love anywhere. A family is the perfect environment where we can gain such experience, develop and increase the talent of love.

In fact, people have been given a huge credit, there is no person without the gift of love. Of course, you're free to bury it for fear of being misunderstood or punished, or rather you can cultivate it, care for it and increase it because this is what brings a great joy - winning a victory over ourselves. As Suvorov said, "Conquer yourself and you will conquer the enemy". Hoist the flag of Love where the flag of selfishness once stood.

In order to become skilled in any area, first of all you have to have a strong desire and second, you must set yourself the task. In other words, I want, I can, I should. Then you do everything it takes to learn the chosen subject.

Some people say they cannot love. Speaking of myself, there was a time when I could not find any love in my heart for many people. So I kept on praying to God to grant me the talent of love. You see, He never sends anything that is beyond our range of abilities. If He says we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves, it means that anybody can do it. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Therefore, we sure are able to love a person that is most close to us, - our spouse.

It's not easy but still possible. If you have a strong incentive then you are halfway through. Always push yourself giving commands such as "go ahead, act!", ask yourself what you have done to keep on loving and to make your partner believe he/she is loved. In short, pray and put efforts – these are two wings that will get you to the point.

– It takes maturity to love. What is maturity? How do I know if I am ready for love?

– One of the criteria is your responsibility towards people close to you. If you are ready to take responsibility and commitments, you are ready to love. In Sanskrit, love means responsibility, in Norwegian it is strength. Maturity is the high spirit, the willpower to make a decision and solve problems. Love and the feeling of responsibility give us strength to go through barriers and problems that life constantly sets for us.

I like the expression of the main character of Salinger’s novel "The Catcher in the Rye’". A totally confused teenager came to his teacher with a question about the meaning of life. The teacher pointed to him that maturity is not when a person wants to die for somebody but when he is ready to live for the sake of someone. Another phrase from the book sounds like this, "Somewhere in the inmost recesses of our hearts always the desire should be – "I want this person to live!" That guy being in some difficult circumstances checked his actions against those of Christ. This is what must be the guidance in our relationship with people – we should think of what Jesus would do if He were in our shoes.

– Is it possible to love others without loving yourself?

–No, it won't work that way, you should learn to love yourself first. Respect yourself for any good actions, thoughts and feelings, just don't brag of it. At the moment you give up your sins comes the true feeling of love to yourself. You see, if there are irritations, offence consuming you, if you say bad things about your friends, you cannot experience a sincere loving feeling towards yourself.

It is a family where love can be fruitful. In order for us to grow good fruits, we have to go through some thorns. The final goal is a self-improvement, growing in love. To me, the very summit of love is a situation when you want to die with your beloved at the same day, just as swans do. Spouses that have been living together for a long time and dying one after another is not a rare case. It happens when two halves have become one piece, one flesh and one soul. Remember the expression, "To love means to be one soul".


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Irene Rakhimova, psychologist

Irene Rakhimova, psychologist

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See also
Love does not cause suffering (Yuliya Anisko, student)
Love is empathy (Igor Gagarin, archpriest )
Love is when you love a person with all his or her imperfections (Olga Motovilova-Komova, painter)
Love is always about giving without regard to your own losses (Holly D'Andrea, attorney)

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