The meaning of love.

2.12.2011
My definition of love.

Love is sort of confusing sometimes, isn't it? (I think that might be the understatement of the century.) Let's be honest here, folks -- most of us will question the whole concept at least once in our lives. We have a tendency to obsess over the meaning, the purpose, and the effects it has on us as human beings. I mean, think about it. There are so many different types of love, all of which seem relatively simple in theory, but can become awfully complicated when mixed into the chaos of our personal relationships and experiences. But what is love, really? Could we possibly attach a single definition to the one thing in this world that has the "sheer power to alter and define our lives?" Doubtful. For example, does it mean the same thing to love your spouse as it does your sibling?  How about the difference between loving your Heavenly Father and loving your favorite television show?  It seems ridiculous to use the same four-letter word for each of these things, considering that they are all significantly separate. I'm pretty sure that the Greeks knew what they were doing when they created not one, but four different words for love: Agape is known to be the highest form of love; it is unconditional and divine, often referred to as the love that we receive from God. Eros means romantic love and is associated with passion and desire. Philia, on the other hand, has to do with platonic love, specifically in friendships. And storge is the kind of love that family members naturally share for one another.

I don't know about you, but I feel like life would be a lot less complicated if we used these distinctions in our own language. But instead, lazy English speakers way back when must have decided that one measly word could sufficiently encompass all four categories. So now, in the 21st century, we're stuck having to decode our friend's text message or email to figure out if the ambiguous "I love you" actually meant "You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I never wish to be parted from you from this day on," or if the notion behind the three words was strictly platonic. (Keep in mind, this is just a lame example of what could happen. In no way am I condoning the ridiculous and cowardly habit of taking part in such a serious conversation through text messaging, of which most of us are probably guilty.) Of course, we can usually rely on context to help us tell the difference.  But sometimes, the clues are not always so obvious. This brings me to my second challenging factor in assigning a definition to the word "love."

Some people would say that love is a noun, as in a feeling or emotion; however, a select few might insist that it is predominantly a verb. A few years ago, if you would have asked me which side of the argument I was on, I would have told you without hesitation that love was definitely a feeling. The magical, heart-pounding, head-over-heels, butterflies-in-your-stomach type of feeling that spreads throughout your entire body when you are kissed for the very first time. But, as I've grown and matured, I've come to discover that love is so much more than that. I may not be an expert on the subject, but I know with most certainty that true love cannot be contained within the limited barriers of our emotions. Sure, as humans, we have the tendency to fall in love -- from what I've seen, an out-of-this-world experience (igniting a whole plethora of emotions) that I would hate to miss out on during my lifetime. But actual love, as in to love, is a choice that each of us make every single day.  It is choosing to be faithful, patient, caring, and kind to our husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and strangers. It's honoring the sacred vows that we have made and learning to forgive when others don't.  It is giving away bits and pieces of ourselves without expecting anything in return.

I'm sure that we've all heard this before, correct? I'll admit that "my" definition for love is nothing new -- on the contrary, many people have spoken and written about the topic in greater detail and with much more insight than this blog post could ever hope to emulate. But sometimes, I feel like the rest of the world (myself included) forgets all that true love has to offer. Most of us are so enamored by the idea of love, but how can we really understand what it means when we're constantly bombarded with whimsical stories of self-fulfillment disguised as love? Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy the fairytale romanticisms as much as the next person (or even more so) -- but I can't help but think that we are all hung up on a misguided representation of love, one of more take and less give.

So, to wrap up this incredibly lengthy post, I pose the question, is love really all that complicated? Well, I guess that depends on the person you ask or the situation to which it pertains. But, to be honest, I don't believe that it is. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the very essence of love is more straightforward than we'd like to think. If you're not so sure, go ahead and check out the oh-so-popular bible passage from Corinthians; the proof is right there, in black and white. I'd say that it's the truest definition of love there is, for the most part. Even still, I have a feeling that humans will never stop discussing, pondering, and obsessing over the captivating mystery that is this four-letter word. And I really don't see anything wrong with this. Because, let's face it:  love, in its purest form, "awakens the soul and makes us reach for more." (Okay, I'll stop with the movie quotes now.)

|| movie quotes from The HolidayPride & Prejudice, and The Notebook //

5 comments:

  1. I love this post. :)

    and I TOTALLY agree that the Greeks got it right. It's absurd that we have one word to encompass such a wide range of situations and feelings.

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  2. Also, I thought I had added you to my Google Reader but apparently I had not!! So now I get to play catch up, and you will probably get several comments. :)

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  3. This is great. I don't believe that it is that complicated. In fact, it is the most natural thing in the world. The ability to love is innate as all of us.

    And I agree with what you said about the act of love being a choice. Too many people think of it as just take, when it is so much give as well.

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  4. I really enjoyed this blog, Emily! Well spoken!

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