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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

In Defense of Love

Alley by the Lake by Leonid Afremov

Thoughts. Feelings. Sparked and felt. Deeply. In the blood. In the head. In the heart.


Topic of a Facebook (yes there is that dirty word again.;) conversation/ debate last night.

Love is not solely a feeling but a very conscious decision that we choose to make.  Or not make as the case may be.

We choose to love. We also feel love. But the problem, the words I wrote that perhaps sparked the conversation last night were that I believe to base love only on a feeling is immature and lacks a certain understanding of what it means to truly love another. I don't consider these words offensive. I consider them true.

To feel love is certainly valid and worthwhile. Wildly exhilarating and fun. It's a pleasure and a pain. But feelings fluctuate daily. Feelings can't be relied upon to carry us through the hard stuff. Feelings will fail us in the end. If we place our trust in feelings alone, we place our trust in something that changes constantly.

We excuse ourselves from the hard work of really loving.

To decide to love on the other hand, that is powerful. That is the essence of mature love. To choose to take responsibility for love. To wake up in the morning and not feel in love with ones partner; to feel upset, impatient, or furious with ones child; to truly dislike someone and yet to decide to love them regardless of feeling. To choose to love through action and word because, make no mistake, it is up to us.

Love, the active verb. Love, the challenge. Love, the hardest and yet most rewarding part of living.

Where as if love is only a feeling, nothing more, how very little we have to rely on. We can wake up in the morning then and not feel in love with our partner and so determine based on feeling alone that the spark is gone, it was lovely but now I feel nothing for you, I won't fight for you and our love...I will leave.

Love can be romantic, passionate or calm and peaceful. It can be everything we hope for and long for it to be. But one thing it must be in order to survive, is stronger than whatever we feel it to be. It must be more. It takes the force of will. The determination (sometimes grim determination) to put feelings aside and get down to the gritty, frustrating process of putting love into action.

For our partners. For our children. For our family. For strangers. For those who we genuinely do dislike.

I'd like to share another post with you. I wrote it in when we were in Sri Lanka in the thick of the final stages of our adoption; at the beginning stages of learning to love a little boy who wasn't "ours" biologically. Suspended Time
I believe we all should strive for a broader understanding of love. It's a big issue. :)


Anonymous said...

Missed the FB debate I'm afraid but enjoyed this post.

"Loving" someone is very different to being "In Love" with someone. It takes a certain maturity to understand that.

Being "In Love" is all giddy, exciting, obsessing - "Loving" is not like that at all.

Thanks for an interesting post!

Unknown said...

Colleen, I wholeheartedly agree! I think sometimes that's why people fall in love with someone who is bad for them. They base that love totally on a "feeling" which is often nothing more than a physical attraction. We DECIDE to love. Through frustration, pain, happiness, sadness, hurt feelings, elation....ALL OF IT. It's a decision we make. And while that doesn't "sound" very romantic; it's real. As for romance, that's whatever we create for ourselves!

Once again, great post!


Brian Miller said...

i agree love is a is often a reflection of our own heart attitudes as well....

Joyful said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on an important topic. I very much agree that love is a choice. The true kind of love that is. The wildly exhilarating kind of love is what I call infatuation. Still love, but not meant for the long haul. What would we do when the infatuation passes, as it most certainly will, if we haven't learned to choose to love?

Enjoyed your post and love the new background to your blog.

Grandma K said...

with that understanding and basis for love a marriage will survive.

Great post! Reminds me of a book that I recommend "Why Love Will Always be a Poor Investment". by Kurt Armstrong

Dangerous Linda said...

I agree whole-heartedly with your premise that love is a decision as well as a feeling. Another point I'd like to make is that our feelings are based on our thoughts. So, the easiest way to get that "loving" feeling back is to change our minds about our "love interest" whether it be our child, partner, friend or stranger. We have much more conscious control over our emotions and feelings than most people realize. Love your ideas, Crazy Colleen ;-)

Dawn said...

SO very true colleen! most of our culture cannot see the distinction. our language is seriously lacking adequate words to describe commitment love. me and colin often tell couples in premarital that we love each other even though we don't always like each other - it's choice!

Meg said...

Prefect Colleen! And Dawn what a great thing to point out to those who are going to be married! It is all a choice! Great post!!!! :)

OtienoHongo said...

You have put is so eloquently that I have nothing more to add...except say 'nice image!'...

Judi said...

Wonderful Colleen. I agree that "Being" in love is far different then Loving someone...I am not IN LOVE with my children's dad but I love him because he is their dad and a wonderful human being. I love my shoes, different ones different days, but I can live without them - this to me is just the feeling...I love my children, but can't imagine my world without them - this is the God Given Love I treasure...loving someone can be painful and annoying in the same day...Although I do truly believe some people are born without the capacity to love, or at the very least the inability to recognize love, ergo child abuse etc. Just rambling on...But whatever you decipher from my ramblings I do agree with you. I Heart You!

Nikki (Sarah) said...

I think you're is a choice. Awesome post.

MFEO2009 said...

loved it!

Colleen said...

Judi, I always love your ramblings, they are full of wisdom. I agree with you and heart you too.:)

Sarah and Nichole, thank you both for your sweet comments.

S. Susan Deborah said...

I add a ditto to OtienoHongo. You have expressed it so beautifully that I read and reread this.

Joy always,

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

You are so right. Love is a decision not just a feeling. It can take us places we've never imagined. And sometimes love sits silently and waits, lets another cry. How I think also affects how I behave towards my husband. And prayer is a great solution! Very good post and I love the painting!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't possible agree more. It seems to me that true love, which is a matter of the will, can coincide with feeling, produce feelings (on occasion not constantly!), be aided by feelings and generally have many relations with emotions, but it is not primarily an emotion. Nor can true love really remain if one becomes a slave of one's emotions either in terms of their intensity or their absence. A feeling of love can also be misleading. It can attach oneself to someone fairly random on the basis of mainly physical attraction and it can subsist with no true love in form of willing the actual good of the beloved. It seems fairly frequently to be the impetus for actions directly contrary to the good of the beloved, either in terms of seeking pleasure and mainly a satisfaction of one's own feelings or desire or in a false molly cuddling of the beloved which supports and affirms them in actions contrary to their true good. (Of course, one may wish a false good believing it to be good, and that would be, I guess, consistent with an intention to love carried out on the basis of false information).

In our day and age, not only does it seem as if people think it is a betrayal of themselves and others not to let oneself be ruled by emotions. As if it is wrong to stay in a marriage if one no longer feels in love or if one experiences feelings for someone else. And similarly there seems to be a crazy notion about that love is demonstrated in complete and uncritical approval. I am convinced that this attitude runs counter to true love.

Anyhow,I found the definition of Dom Vital Lehodey of devotion (which I posted a wee while ago on my blog) to sound as if it could in many ways apply to the relation between emotions and the love which is consistent with charity in general. Of course, consolations and emotions (true and false) in the intense practical love of God (and thus others) which is devotion is obviously not entirely the same, but it struck me to be helpful in pointing out a general distinction between act of love in the will and the emotions which may or may not accompany it. Especially when that love truly does proceed from and/or is in harmony with and ultimately ordered to a love of God which is above all other loves.

Sorry for rambling again!

Just Be Real said...

Blessings to you Colleen.

Leia said...

Love is so complex... and there's a different type of love you feel for everyone! No two people love or are loved in the same way.


Crown of Beauty said...

This is a beautiful post, with all your honest insights, Colleen.

I wonder what that debate on FB was all about... but anyway, love cannot really be explained, only experienced.

For me, the greatest manifestation of love is that someone is willing to die in my place! That's love.

The love chapter in the Bible sums it up so beautifully.

I went back to read your suspended time post. Lovely. What a privilege you have been given to love.

Stay in love, Colleen. It keeps our hearts soft and gentle.


Peggy said...

What a thoughtful post. To decide to love is indeed powerful as is striving for a broader understanding of love. After all, love is what it's all about, isn't it?

Jenn Jantz said...

amen! and amen! and amen again!!!!
What a wonderful post. I remember before I met James. I thought I was deeply and madly in love with another guy. But serious. when I met James I KNEW with out a doubt that I was NOT in love with the other guy. Now being married over 2 years and living away from home, married to 'the love of my life' I think I really know what true honest deep love is. and I thank God for it!!!

Mary N. said...

Well said, Colleen! Love is a choice. We feel love...but not always. Your post made me think about Jesus - when He was walking that long, painful, road to Calvary I don't think He was "feeling" love at all. What He was "feeling" was agony but what He was "doing" was love in its purest form. Great post!

Deborah said...

I absolutely love this post! Although I have yet to come across a post of yours that I don't love. But seriously, your insights on love are profound. And I agree with what you say. It can be very hard to "love" others at times. We must make a choice and not rely on a fleeting feeling.