Saturday, 30 March 2013

What is Love?

When I was young, I found it hard to love. The things that happened to me as a child had hurt me, and broke the way I processed emotion. I found it very hard to feel love, to understand it. I wanted to love, to feel attached, warm and protected, but it was almost impossible. At times I still struggle.

I had no boyfriends at school or college. I had crushes but they never went any further. I felt lonely and a bit broken. All my other friends had relationships, their first kisses were at 14 or 15. Many were doing much more than that.

To me, sex and intimacy were all tied up with love, without it, they meant nothing. Why would you want to hold hands or spend hours kissing some spotty adolescent? Wise beyond my years perhaps.

To me true love, was my Nana. She taught me about love. We used to talk for hours about everything: politics, religion, sex, relationships. She was love. Nana loved deeply. She loved her family, her God, her community. She was very quiet, she never made a song and dance about it. Whilst she was Catholic she did not believe at all that that was the only way. She encouraged me to find my own truth. 

At university I began to mix with boys and men more. I discovered emotions that confused me. Affection, desire, lust. I started to date, and have experiences. Around this time I also became a Christian.

I had always believed in God. So many things had happened to me as a child and in my darkest times that is was impossible not to believe in a higher power that saw me through. People ask "how can God allow bad things to happen", but my God isn't a puppeteer. Life, the good and the bad happens to all of us, it's how we respond that matters.

 I could feel this warmth and protection and I chose to call it God. It wasn't the God I learnt about at Sunday School, it was a strong real presence, just wrapping me in safety. It was love. I chose to call it God.

As I started to attend church I started learning. A lot of what I learnt I question now, but one thing I learnt has stayed with me.

It's trotted out for weddings all the time, 1 Corinthians 13 4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.
 Love is not about 50 Shades of Grey or silly songs. It's nothing to do with sex or intimacy. Love is a decision. It's a decision to put the truth first. It is patience personified. It's nothing to do with self, it's to do with others. I love you. I put you first. I care for you. Really, I love many many people. Why define it further?

Love is an action. It's not a feeling. If I say "I love you" I mean that I will protect you, trust you, be someone you can trust, will always hope with you and perservere with you. It means truth. To be true, share each others trues.

I don't call myself a Christian anymore as such. Particularly as a survivor of child abuse, I just feel that too often Christianity is tied up with church, and for many people church was not a safe haven. There are too many connotations with that word. I just believe in love. My perspective is Judeo Christian one because that is my social context, what I grew up with. I don't apologise for that. I cannot believe that Christianity is more valid than any other religion, however. It's not me. Because I believe in love, and that people find their own paths to love whatever that means for them.

Love isn't pretty. It isn't shiny and sparkly. Love can be dirty, hard work. To love someone, to truly love them, isn't something to take lightly.

Before you next tell someone you love them, think about it.

Are you ready to truly love? 

1 comment:

  1. This is such a powerful post kylie and I'm not sure it would have meant so much to me 8 weeks ago. I have seen this kind of love now- raw, unfaltering and real. I guess I have it too, I am a mother after all, butI had never wktnessee it in the same way. I will forever be honoured to have been witness to it.