When I was six years old, my great-grandmother Ruth Knowles explained to me that people loved each other, they could choose to love God and Jesus, but people could not love the taste of her homemade apple pie or a television show. “Love,” she explained, “was an emotion.” She helped me to see that people used the word love so often and for so many reasons, we cheapened the very meaning of the word.
If I am not careful, even today, I will find myself saying that I love a particular television series or that I love to be alone sometimes, walking the edge of the forest. I always correct myself, knowing that my granny would disapprove. She explained, “We enjoy watching television or listening to the radio. People like the taste of ice cream, so they enjoy eating it now and then.”
Ruth taught me that people did not love ‘things’, they loved people and the God who created them. We enjoy the taste of, the sound of, the feel of, the smell of and the sight of things. “Bobbie, never say that you love an object or any non-living thing.” For me to do so would set her teeth on edge. If there was one person I truly did not want to disappoint, it was my great-grandmother.
As a society, we have cheapened the meaning of the word ‘love’. Because we have, people have a skewed understanding of the meaning of love. This was what Ruth was afraid would happen eventually.
When two people get married, they vow to love each other until death. Many couples are doing well to last five years today. Physical attraction is not love. However, if two people have no physical attraction for each other, it would be impossible for them to have a romantic love for one another. Isn’t it funny how love works?
We don’t have to be attracted to one another to show love and respect. There are many types of love. The love we have for parents is different from the love we have for a best friend. The way in which we love a spouse is different from the love expressed for our children. There are varying degrees and levels of love. Even in a relationship, one person may have a stronger love than the other.
One thing is true of love. It is never ending. People say they fell out of love. No more ridiculous statement has ever been said. By the very nature of love, it can’t stop. The truth is this: the couple who say they fell out of love, never loved each other to begin with. They may have had a physical attraction to each other, which can cease over time. If you ever feel true love for someone, you always will.
People should remember this when they have children and decide to divorce. They tell their children that they have stopped loving one another, but they will never stop loving them (the child/children). Children are not stupid. They have the ability to reason: if mom stopped loving dad, she can stop loving me. This is a traumatic awakening for a child.
How much better it would be for parents to explain it this way, “Your dad and I thought we were in love with each other. Over time, we realized that we had a lot in common, but there was no real love between us. Therefore, we have decided to live separately for awhile.” This way, the child realizes that mistakes can be made between adults concerning love, but both parents love the child. He doesn’t feel the fear of losing the love from mom or dad.
Love will take us down many roads in life. Memories will be made that will become bittersweet. Hearts will be broken. Lives will be changed forever. But know this, love is never ending. It is an emotion that is stronger than death. Real love does not end just because a spouse has died or divorced you. It doesn’t end when your child grows up. Love still exists somewhere inside you when a person speaks the name of the first girl/boy you feel in love with so many years ago.
Love is a beautiful emotion. It can grow and deepen through the years. It is a pity so many marriages end in divorce before love has had an opportunity to grow. I am realistic however. Some marriages need to end. No one should live with an abuser. No spouse should have to put up with a partner who parks his car in the garage of other women on a regular basis.
Think about the people you love this week. Just for a moment, picture life without them. Then go tell them just how much you do love them. Kiss the back of his neck, hold her hand, put your arms around each other and appreciate what you have. Next, go find the children and tell them how much you love them, then explain to them what love is and what it isn’t.