Sunday, September 29, 2013

What is Love?

I grew up very confused about what love really was.  I learned from my mother that love was suppose to be that tingling in your chest when that person was around you, even after you had been together for a long period of time, if it still resurfaced from time to time then it meant you loved someone. I used to feel so much pressure in a relationship for that tingling to be there that sure indicator that it was love.  I also learned from my mother that love was suppose to have a transformation effect on the person that you were in the relationship with.  That no matter if you married  someone who didn't love themselves & treated you badly that your love and doing everything you could to please them, even if that meant giving up on yourself, had the power to transform them into the wonderful man of your dreams.  For years I watched my mother do this with my dad, and it was sad to watch how my mother's "love" never seemed to be enough because my dad never changed, he was still never happy and she never got the love she truly deserved.

Love and being loved and giving love seemed like such a hopeless endeavor to me.  I felt weak if I wanted love, trapped in a life of slavery if I had to give love and hopeless because I felt I didn't deserve love. If I wanted love I was weak because I had to depend on another person.  If I wanted to give love it meant I was to become a slave to that person by making sure all their needs would be met by having none of my own.  I felt I didn't deserve love because if I am not making the other person happy I have failed and deserve nothing from them in return.

 I was truly scared of being in a love relationship because all I really saw was that it would turn into a life of total misery.  I could never really expect a man to be my knight in shining armor because I was suppose to be the one to save him EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE.   I was taught that a man had minimal responsibility to a woman meaning, he goes to work and earns the money and comes home period.   He may throw the woman a bone sometimes to shut her up, but basically in the model of love I just described, a woman was on her own and generally had to go without mental, emotional, spiritual and even sometimes, physical support.   It was sad, but the result of this experience was usually finding a friendship that was suppose to fill in the above mentioned missing pieces.  Usually you find a girl friend that you could attach to your hip and then basically wear them out with all your needs to the point that all they wanted to do was get away from you.  They would become disillusioned because they were under the idea that you were suppose to be there for them too, but you really weren't.

Over the years, I have been blessed with opportunities to learn what love is, even though I still tend to struggle with the concept.  I have had the blessing of being a member of the Faust family, with Dan & Enid being the head of it.  They were amazing examples of marital  and Christ-like love.  I have been blessed with others who came to my rescue when I was truly in dire need and they devoted themselves to helping me heal and recover.  The Lord is teaching me how to love and to give love in his way.

Recently, I was waxing nostalgic and watched episodes of Little House on the Prairie on Youtube.  I was watching the episode where Laura & Almanzo were having difficulties when they were about to get married. He lost the farm he bought and the crop he was trying raise and didn't feel he could marry Laura during such adversity.  One night Laura was in tears and Ma Ingalls had a talk with her.  The idea that stood out to me the most profound was when she told Laura that "Love is strength."

 Now I have seen this episode many times before, but during this viewing, I was struck by her statement.  It made me think, in a way I never quite did before that love really IS strength!  That the genuine love I received from the Lord and those he sent into my life gave me strength to move forward from difficult circumstances.  It's not about controlling someone, or molding them into a preferred image, or even stripping yourself of your own needs, but rather it's about enabling someone in being and doing good.

  Our genuine love is meant to help another build strength to resist the evil the world has to offer, yet be forgiving when mistakes are made and trust in the Savior's atonement, his true love for us, to heal and recover.  Whether you are the person who is the actor or the person being acted upon love in it's purest form from the Savior has the power to strengthen us if we choose.  Also, I believe that as we learn to love ourselves that we have a greater capacity to access the blessings of heaven for us and those we love.  Love as defined by the Lord is freedom as we obey, acceptance as we understand we are truly children of God, it's not meant to oppress or make afraid, it's about what is right and good, it's about forgiveness and realizing the Savior paid the price, it's about honesty, integrity and the desire for growth and allowing yourself and others be who the Lord designed them to be.  The pure love of Christ is charity the end.

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