Love: What We’re Really Searching For
Love. It’s such a commonly used word but it’s meaning has become obscured because we use it for so many different things. “I love chocolate.” “I love my mom.” “I love your haircut.” “I love my dog.” How are these things even in the same category? With half of all married couples getting divorced these days, many of us have seen so many relationships end that we may not even believe in the existence of love anymore.
But what is love really? Is it chocolate and flowers? Is it butterflies in your stomach? Is it that happy feeling you get when you’re with someone special?
What Is Love?
Consider a father who wakes up in the middle of the night to soothe his crying baby. This action is a demonstration of his love. Though it may not fill him with happiness to have to get up in the middle of the night, this is love. The great mystery of love is that, though it often makes us happy, its authenticity is most evident when it entails sacrifice; when we must give of ourselves for the sake of another.
love: (v) to make a sincere gift of yourself to another; choosing to care about another’s well-being as much as your own
So love is more than just a feeling. True love is making a sincere gift of yourself to another. It is putting another person first and caring as much about that person’s good as your own.
Longing For Love
The desire for love is universal. Mother Teresa said, “The hunger for love is more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” We all have an ache in our hearts that longs for intimacy, acceptance, and affection. The reason for this longing is that we were created for love. Unlike the rest of creation, we were “made in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27) and “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). So we were made in the image and likeness of love!
This longing for love that we have- for beauty, for truth, for goodness- can only be satisfied by the one who created us, the one who is Love, Beauty, Truth and Goodness…by God Himself.
Loving As God Loves
Jesus gave the ultimate demonstration of His love for us when He took all of our pain, sins, and suffering upon Himself and offered up His life in return for ours. He shows us what true love is, and it’s not chocolate and flowers. It’s sacrifice. It’s compassion: the willingness “to suffer with” the beloved.
Christ’s Love Is:
- Free – Of His own free will, Jesus lays down His life for us.
- Total – He gives us everything. He gives His life, even to the last drop of blood.
- Faithful – He never abandons us or stops loving us.
- Fruitful – His love gives us life; His death brings eternal life to all humankind.
We are called to love one another, as God loves us: freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. Love is our origin, our constant calling and our final fulfillment in Heaven. We were made for LOVE. We were made not only to receive it, but to give it. We can do that every day, with every person we encounter: our siblings, our parents, our spouse, our friends, even with our enemies.
We can choose to love.
How does Chastity fit in?
Our desire for love is often expressed as a desire for physical intimacy. Chastity is the virtue that allows us to order our sexual desire in accordance with authentic love. Though often interpreted to mean “abstinence from sex”, chastity is actually the successful integration of our sexuality within our identity as a man or woman of God. It is a positive means of channeling our sexual desires by placing the good of the other before our own wants.
Whether we are called to marriage, religious life or the single life, we all have a vocation to love. Chastity challenges us to see and love others as God does, with a pure heart. Chastity isn’t just for nuns and priests. We are all called to practice this virtue by seeking to recognize and respect the dignity of every person we encounter.
“This is my commandment, love one another as I love you.” John 15:12
If you’re ever unsure whether you’re acting out of lust or love, ask yourself,
“Is this how Christ loves?”
We are called to love as He loves: freely, without expecting anything in return, totally, not holding anything back, faithfully, never relinquishing our love, and fruitfully, generating life and love by our actions.