It is something we do.
Recently, someone I have never met or seen, told me they love me. We only know each other exist because of the internet. I know they are well intentioned.
Love, however, is not an energy like electricity. If it were, there would be much less war, conflict, poverty, and suffering in this world. Love is varied and takes many forms.
Hopefully, the first love we know is that of the adults who raise us. Whether they are our parents, grandparents, or other care givers. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have this, but most go on to find love with their friends and then probably with another person with whom they ‘fall in love’.
Real love, for a child, an adult, whether they are our life partner or a friend, is an investment of our time, and worldly goods. Love wants good things for the loved one and does whatever is possible to give opportunities that are enriching.
Love between two life partners is often the easiest love, if it is real love. Compromises are made, one chooses the other’s preference and vice versa. It should be an equally balanced giving and taking. If illness strikes, love accepts this as part of the loved one.
Often, the most difficult love is parental love. Children become their own person, this can be a pleasure to watch and experience or it can challenge the parent. Loving a son or daughter who make choices that are hard to accept is painful. Some parents do abdicate from loving such an offspring, but most go on loving and hurting.
The cost of love is grief
Love can demand every ounce of patience and forbearance. It is patient and kind. It is generous unless generosity is foolish. It believes the best and sees the good but without rose tinted spectacles.
It misses the company of the loved one. It sits through hospital appointments, dance rehearsals, it sews costumes when sewing is not a strength. It drives to sports events, to court hearings, it celebrates the joys and weeps when it time for weeping.
So love makes us vulnerable. The one we love has power to hurt us, to use us. They may lie or deceive. They may vanish from our lives.
Of course, love brings joy too. We celebrate success, milestones, spontaneous moments, rituals.
Then please don’t tell someone you never met that you love them. You may have been kind, you may have been gracious, but love is something else. It is not an energy, but finds energy to invest the loved one.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves
Published in Shelter Me