What is love – an emotion, a state of mind, a feeling, a choice? I have experienced extreme elation, utter despair and everything in between within the context of what I have traditionally called “love”. As time goes by and the sum total of my experiences increase, I am more and more convinced that “love” is a choice – a decision to be consciously and purposefully made. A daily choice. The choice may indeed become habitual, but it is a choice nonetheless.
So, with that in mind – a decision for what? What is being chosen when someone chooses love? This is a question I have struggled with lately.
Is it possible to love when that love is not reciprocated? If love is each individual’s choice, it stands to reason that it is possible to truly love without being loved. That being the assumption, many of the things that we associate with love – sexual excitement, nervous stomach, time flying by, personal fulfillment, continual thoughts, etc – have nothing to do with love at all; for each and every one of these items is in some way dependent upon the other party. And, if love is truly an independent choice, it does not have the ability to be codependent. While one may have the pleasure or misery as the case may be of receiving love, that is not an essential component in the equation. Love must be something that one can give with absolutely nothing in return. Given this I ask again, what is love? Not what does love look like, or what is the evidence of love, or how does love feel; what is love? I have pondered this for a great while because my faith offers a mandate to love and I have only recently come to realize that I have never truly understood what love is at all. In the end, my answer is much simpler than anticipated.
Love – a choice to place everything associated with another before everything that is you for the good of the other alone. This includes needs, hopes, dreams, desires – EVERYTHING – ahead of the same for yourself. Their needs above your needs; their hopes above your hopes, their dreams above your dreams, their desires above your desires… This must continually be done in the best interest of the other. Therefore, if you have insight that fulfillment of a desire will hurt the individual, love has the responsibility of denying that desire. However, one must continually check their motives for it goes against the flow of love to deny the loved anything based upon how you will be affected. The motive must always be for the good of the loved alone – anything less is not love.
I realize that I will fail. Probably often. Perhaps daily. Nonetheless, I choose to love.