Can Love be Defined?
The other day I was babysitting my three-year-old niece, a most conniving little angel. As she sat gawking at my girlfriend's brother, Matthew, who was eating potato chips, she told me that she loved me "so much." She had already devoured her potato chips, but she obviously wanted more. Many more expressions of love proceeded to drip from her lips. Finally, the question came; "Reg, can I have some more chips?" At first, I thought this little show of bribery was cute and funny, but then I started to think about the true meaning of love. What is true love? Poets, philosophers, religious leaders, and the American media all have different definitions for this word. Too often, love is conceived as doing whatever it takes to get your potato chips. However, true love involves much more than personal satisfaction.
Our society uses the term "love" far too lightly. Having been guilty of this offense myself, I admit my guilt. I often say, "I love Mexican food," or, "I love my truck." Love, however, is not just a happy feeling we get when something nice pleases us. Love is a verb. Love is the action of giving yourself totally to one person without expecting anything in return. Love is being willing to put aside your own needs in order to meet the needs of others. Giving up your weekend trip to the beach in order to take care of your sick mother is one example of love. A destitute mother giving up her one piece of bread to feed her sick little boy is another example of love. The ultimate expression of love is being willing to lay down your own life in the place of another. Love is giving, not getting.
Too often our love is conditional. We often hear, "I will love you if you meet my needs," or, "I will love you forever if you just sleep with me." The media often portrays love in this fashion. The images that most easily come to mind are perfume commercials. These commercials often portray a beautiful woman hanging on the muscular arm of a tall, dark man. Is love being in the arms of the perfect looking person who can boost your ego,, or is love being willing to clean up the putrid vomit your pregnant wife spews on the bathroom floor? Love is not feeling bubbly or staring with goo-goo eyes; rather it is opening the car door for your significant other.
Before I become misunderstood, let me clarify that love is more than just actions. Certain emotions are involved in any type of relationship. After all, humans are emotional people. The desperate couple, after trying for years to have a baby, is usually overcome with a flood of joy at hearing the news that "they" are pregnant. Tears flow, shouts of joy echo off the wall, and thoughts of the nursery ring in their heads. The...