What is Real Love?

What is love?  That is a question that has been pondered for centuries.  Some cultures have the luxury of using several words to define the different forms of love.  In English, however, we are stuck using one word to describe some vastly different concepts.  How would you describe love – real love?  Why don’t you think about it a minute while you get some coffee, then come back before your screen goes to sleep and read my thoughts on it to see if we agree?

It’s the beginning of Christmas which has gotten me thinking about some of the key elements of Christmas.  In my opinion, love is the dominate theme of Christmas.  So, what is love?   I know there are Biblical terms which are much more exact, but this is my version.  The first aspect of love is happiness.  “I love pizza, I love having the family together, I love opening packages.”  Second, there is a sexual aspect of love, which I think needs no explanation at all.  If you need clarity, just turn on your television … enough said.  Third, there is a general feeling of charity and well-being toward others. This is the idea of showing respect and courtesy instead of always being selfish.  Lastly, though, is what I call real love.  Although the other aspects of love involve happiness and can be somewhat self serving at times, real love isn’t always fun. Real love hurts sometimes. Click To Tweet

In a strange way, our dog got me thinking about this topic of real love.  I have mentioned Sam in earlier blogs, but let me describe him to you briefly so you can get a clear picture.  Sam is 17 years old.  We think he is mostly blind because his pupils are completely clouded over, he can barely hear anything, he has such severe arthritis in his hips that he can no longer get up by himself, he sleeps at least 90% of the time only waking up and barking in the middle of the night, and he has lost control of some of his bodily functions.  Recently, I caught myself complaining, “Why do we even have this dog anymore? He serves no purpose.”  The answer is love. Real love involves serving others even when they are incapable of giving you anything in return. Click To Tweet

Real love doesn’t just appear, it takes time to grow.  When I think of Sam I know that my love for him has grown slowly over the last 17 years.  I will save the story of us getting Sam for another blog, but let’s just say that I did not want him and would have given him away to any willing person for at least the first year of his life.  But gradually he became a part of our family to the point that I truly love that crazy dog. I now take care of him even though he can’t do much of anything in return.

I think that our society tends to overlook that part of love.  We all want it from others, but so many people aren’t willing to give it.  We have become selfish and started defining love as what someone else can give to us.  But that focus is wrong. Real love involves what we can give to others not what they give in return.

Isn’t that the whole point of the Christmas story?  Jesus came to earth completely for our benefit.  He gave up Heaven and confined himself to an earthly body which was a complete sacrifice on his part.  He got nothing so we could get everything.  That is real love.  His entire earthly adventure was a sacrifice with the ultimate culmination of suffering on a cross for us.  That is love – painful, raw and real.

This Christmas, let’s each take some time and ponder love.  Are you investing in anyone else to the point where it hurts?  Are you willing to sacrifice for the benefit of anyone else or are you expecting others to make you happy? It is when start taking our eyes off ourselves and putting them on the needs of others that we start showing real love.

Will you take the time to share a story of love in the comments below?  Also, please share this with others who may be encouraged by it today.

  • I have loved Judy from the first day I saw her on the swing set at school. She was only six years old, but there was something different about her. She never said much but she always had a smile and I can still remember the sound of her laughter. We were childhood sweethearts . We loved each other until she died from cancer.
    Life was much easier than it is now. Many of our friends have past , our children have gone, and I am constantly reminded that there is something bigger than myself that I need to do.
    It is when I am helping others with PTSD that I find relief for myself. I truly feel that the hardest thing to learn about love is , learning how to let go.
    I think love is that something bigger than ourselves.

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