“What is Love?”

I came up with a little rhyme to help my students learn what true love is about: “Love ain’t the attraction; it’s commitment and action.”

Love ain’t the attraction:

Unfortunately, love has been equated and confused with a mooshy, gooshy feeling that we get when we love someone. This, obviously, is dangerous when it comes to the eternity of marriage. As soon as a person stops feeling in love, or maybe after several years of it, they declare that all promises are null and void because they no longer “love” their partner. But love is not a feeling that comes and goes from day to day.

Love is commitment:

It’s so much more than that. Our love is literally our life. It is that thing deep down inside us around which everything we do revolves. In writing on the nature of love, Swedenborg says this: “Our love is the purpose of everything we […] think about, decide upon, and do (Divine Love and Wisdom 241). Our purpose is the thing to which we dedicate our life and for which we lay down our life. Our purpose is the end to which all our paths lead and we will do anything to get there.

Love is action:

There is an anecdote about a husband who wants to make things right with his wife. He goes to a love guru and says, “I don’t love my wife anymore. What do I do?” The guru responds, “Love her!” This, ends up with the husband learning that love is action and doing. Swedenborg learns this same idea while speaking with some angelic wives about conjugial love: “In all conjunction by love there must be action, reception, and reaction.” (Conjugial Love 293.5) Action is essential to a loving relationship.

In a cute and simple (and important!) way, love as an action can simply mean buying flowers, spending time, doing favors, or expressing words of affection to the loved one. But there is also the work each individual engages in with the Lord to become less selfish and less materialistic. This internal work is just as important as those outward displays of affection.

Love ain’t the attraction; it’s commitment and action. But shouldn’t we have a nice feeling when we are with someone we love, whether with a spouse or friend? Of course! However, the lack of that nice feeling is simply a sign that there is work to do. By working on the commitment and action, you can always get back to those feelings of happiness and peace from being with someone we love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!