It’s a four letter word that is the theme of every song, ballad, and movie; Love. But what does love actually look like? The dictionary alone has about 20 different definitions ranging from warm fuzzy feelings for someone to intimacy. The bible defines love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This definition seems pretty spot on, but what does this type of love look like exactly?
There are so many different ways and types of love; love for a friend, a passion, a sibling, a significant other, family, God, etc. We’ve become accustomed to so many different ways to love, and so many terms that coin love;
- “When you trip over love, it is easy to get up. But when you fall in love, it is impossible to stand again.” — Albert Einstein
- “And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” — Les Miserables
- “If a thing loves, it is infinite.” — William Blake
- “The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to these things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that’s that.” — Woody Allen
- “There’s no substitute for a great love who says, ‘No matter what’s wrong with you, you’re welcome at this table.'” — Tom Hanks
- “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” — When Harry Met Sally
These only scratch the surface of all the different sayings we’ve come to associate with love. I think my favorite though is Jodi Picoult’s,”You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” ― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper. Picoult accurately captures the essence of love; acceptance.
The Greeks had a few terms to to describe the different types of love:
Agape is the general love for human beings, or the shear joy of being alive and living. This is the natural love for your everyday acquaintances.
Phileo is for friends. Friends always provide a joyous love, because they are the family that we pluck from the world around us; the ones who provide us with laughter and true acceptance. These are the ones that stick by you when the going gets tough.
Storge, or the love of a family or even siblings. This is special because you actively choose to love one another, flaws and all, from the moment you are brought into the world. These are the ones that no matter what, through all your crazy hair-brained ideas will stand by you thick and thin, celebrating your life.
And Eros, which refers to romantic love. This one is probably the most sought after and the one that seems to cause the most heartache. The beauty behind this type of love is that it reveals acceptance in multiple realms of the self. This love is explored on a deeper and more intimate level.
But when you truly emit and radiate love for one another, there are bound to be blips and bumps. Love enables us to make ourselves vulnerable to one another; to be raw and real, which can sometimes lead to pain and hurt. However, if a love is true, it forgives.
Love in it’s truest form was demonstrated to us; Jesus plastered on a cross, accepting and loving us, in advance, for the faults we would embody and the pain we would no doubt cause him in both the present and future. We seek this love. But we also seek to replicate it. That’s the beauty of what Jesus did. He didn’t die just to save us from ourselves, but to be active and present in our lives. That’s kinda awesome.
He’s willing to brave the muck with us; to not only watch us mess up, but to stand by our side and help us repair the damage. That’s true love right there; the kind that doesn’t leave you, forsake you, or reject you. Corinthians accurately sums it up, but his demonstration of love personifies it. Our pursuit of love is our inner desire to be like him. But in your pursuit of love, remember the great words of Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve”. We all deserve the kind of love Jesus displayed, but we also must be willing to emulate that which we deserve; Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.