In February, I wrote a blog on love called “Love Illuminated.”
It was based on a book written by Daniel Jones, the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column.
I noted that I realized I had a lot to say about the topic of love, and that I’d need to write a part two.
So here is the second part to that blog…
In a talk called “How Do I Love Thee” given by then-President Jeffrey Holland at BYU, he said, “I have taken for a title to my remarks Mrs. Browning’s wonderful line “How do I love thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese , no. 43.) I am not going to “count the ways” this morning, but I am impressed with her choice of adverb—not when do I love thee nor where do I love thee nor why do I love thee nor why don’t you love me, but, rather, how. How do I demonstrate it, how do I reveal my true love for you? Mrs. Browning was correct. Real love is best shown in the how…”
Most relationships in life are probably strengthened by asking ourselves how we can love someone better and not on how someone can better love us.
In my earlier blog, I noted that Daniel Jones shared some of his beliefs about love with Katie Couric. They were:
- You can’t hurry up fate. You can’t find someone fast AND have it be destiny. The two are incompatible.
- You can’t get married and stay single. You have to give something up for marriage to succeed.
- You can’t have love without the possibility of loss. You have to love fully, knowing it will end.
This made me think about some of my beliefs about love.
For the sake of a short blog, I’ll only share four:
- Love is not that twitterpated feeling we get when we are attracted to someone. It’s what is left after the twitterpation goes away.
- Love is actually holier than we might realize, or at least it can be. It is rooted in a kind of mutual reverence and respect for each other. It reaches a state of holiness when two people are equally devoted to the success of the relationship and to each others’ genuine happiness and growth. If selfishness takes root and is allowed room to grown, it spreads like the worst weeds and crowds out the blossoming of a beautiful marriage.
- Love starts with examining your own heart and letting it soften. It’s hard to know how to give and receive love if you don’t let your own heart feel pliable, soft, open, warm, and close to the surface of your chest.
- You need to have this kind of soft-hearted love for yourself or you can never fully, freely love someone else because the kind of softness will be unfamiliar to you.
I think I might have stolen that concept from the book A Heart Like His by Virginia Pearce.
She wrote, “The heart is the center of our emotional and spiritual life. Exactly how all the functions are connected, no one understands, but there is an undeniable relationship. I cannot attempt to describe it for you, only how it feels for me. At the risk of sounding a little odd, I can tell you that I can actually feel my heart change its physical texture, size and position, in relation to my spiritual condition. It gets hard and tiny and moves back behind my chest wall when I am angry and withdrawn and self-absorbed. On the other hand, when I am filled with love and reaching out to others, it softens and warms and moves forward — it is enlarged and full. Perhaps my mind is overactive, but the imagery works for me.”
I like that imagery. It works for me too.
I remember learning from a heart surgeon about the calcification or hardening of a heart.
He said we obviously need calcium in our bodies for strong bones and teeth and overall good health; but,when it accumulates where it doesn’t belong, it causes all sorts of problems.
The same seems to apply when it comes to love.
We need to be strong, resilient, wise, and independent people; but we also need to nurture our softness, which we sometimes suffocate because we want so desperately to protect ourselves from being hurt.
If we don’t open ourselves up and welcome some human vulnerability, how can we ever really “show up” in a relationship and allow ourselves to fully love and be loved?
This requires both courage, self-confidence, and faith, which author Brene Brown captures beautifully in this last quote:
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
And there it is, my version of Love Illuminated.