Thursday, March 6, 2008

Never been in love...


"I have never been in love or had anyone be in love with me, I don’t know what it feels like. I can say I love Jesus and I do, But how do I know I really love him? is there a feeling? I feel like I am just going through the motions. I am in my 50’s time is running out."

Ah, the weakness of the English language. The word love, of course, means many things. In his timeless classic C.S. Lewis takes his readers through the four Greek words most commonly used for love. The question above speaks to a common misunderstanding of love for another person (romantic love) and love for Jesus. Let me walk through each of the four loves:

Storge (affection) This is the kind of love that very close friends might have for one another. It speaks of familiarity, close conversation, nearness. Sometimes this is referred to as the love siblings have for one another - they are close, they love each other.

Philia (friendship) Actually the root word for Philiadephia (the city of brotherly love). Here we see the kind of love that friends who share a common interest might have for one another. It is not as "natural" as storge - meaning there must be a reason for this love to exist. You have friends who you see regularly at school or work - you care about them because they are part of the group. If you were not in that group you would likely not feel any love (philia) for them.

Eros (romantic love) This is the kind of love that first part of the question is referring to. Not everyone experiences this kind of love. It is sensual in nature and not necessarily either good or bad. It can be good in the context of a marriage relationship and bad in the context of pornography addiction. Eros can grow out of storge or Philia - but not necessarily so. Generally, eros seeks to get some kind of gratification from the person loved.

Agape (unconditional love) In earthly terms this is unconditional love for another person. I love my daughter regardless of what she does or does not do. That is one form of agape. Another form is the love that God has for us - it is unconditional. We have a hard time getting our minds around that concept. Many think they must do something for God to earn his love - this is a lie. You are loved by God - that's it! A final kind of agape is what God calls us to offer to each other. Unconditional love for imperfect humans is very difficult - it requires work, and is usually NOT a feeling.

I think you can probably guess from the discussion above where I am going with this Blog - I think the person asking the question is confusing romantic love with the love of God. To say you have never been in love, or been loved is simply false. Everyone has been loved or offered love - even if that love has only come from God.

The question really seems to center on the issue of "feelings". How do I recognize the feeling of love. That's a tough one. Philosophers have been debating it for centuries. How do you know you are in love? I would start by suggesting that you try doing the things that people in love do. Try doing something self-less for God. Like what? I don't know - what is God asking you to do? How about taking a shut-in neighbor a meal or mowing their lawn. When they say thanks or try to pay you - tell them "no, I am doing this because I love God" It might shock them, but after you have done it a few times you will come to feel more in love. Agape will flow from you to God and reflect back down on your neighbor.

Don't worry about feeling all gushy - that's a temporary feeling anyway. Even in the best romatic relationships.

No comments: