Exploring the True Meaning of Love
My entire life I’ve been loved, I suppose. For the duration of my being I’ve loved others, I guess. I’ve watched The Notebook and A Walk To Remember a thousand times, I can write a fire love poem in a New York minute, and I’m hopelessly romantic. However, I’ve always struggled in my mind with the concept of love.
Have I ever truly given love? Have I ever truly received love? I’ve said “I love you” a plethora of times, but did I ever understand the gravity and reality of that statement? I’ve struggled with the true meaning of love for most of my adolescent and adult life-until last night that is.
Literally thirty-one years and almost five months into my life, I finally got it. I finally understood what love is and I want to share that epiphany with you.
Allow me to prattle on a bit and I’ll eventually get to a point that might change your life or at least your definition of what love genuinely is.
Christy and Kristi
My name is Kristi in case you didn’t know and a few years ago a coworker/friend of mine gave me a book for my birthday/Christmas entitled Christy. I was taken aback a bit about being gifted with the book.
I’ve been told since I was about twenty years old that I needed to read the book or asked was I named after the book by several random people. I’m a bookworm, but I never really had an inclination to actually read this book.
Now starring back at me, neatly wrapped in shiny red and green Christmas wrapping paper was Christy by Catherine Marshall.
I felt right away, upon receiving the novel, that the time was now. That I had put the book off long enough and this was God’s way of telling me to read the darn thing right now. Also, I felt this book had some special clues about my life’s path wrapped up in it’s many pages.
I started reading the book immediately and I really did enjoy it.
Christy is about a prim and proper young woman who after hearing about children in the Tennessee Smokies who need an educator and a loving person to teach them about God, impulsively takes on the job and joins the Mission.
The job is nothing like Christy expected. The pastoral Smokies are filled with dangerous old rivalries, poor sanitation, superstition, overcrowded classrooms, illiteracy, health crises, and poverty. Christy loathes the work at first, but later with God and her unfailing ability to love, she finds that the people of the mountains are worth so much more than what they appear to be at face value.
Christy falls deeply in love with the mountain people and her work at the mission. In the meanwhile, Christy finds herself and develops greater intimacy with God.
Though the book is set in 1912, I really identified with the main character. Christy is a lot like me- a little too serious sometimes, impulsive, in love with the idea of romance, and very passionate about the things she feels strongly about. I read the book many times over because I loved the narrative, but dually I was looking for clues.
I knew this novel came into my life for a purpose and I was hoping that God would reveal some of His plan for me through it. However, I could not make the story applicable to my own life until recently.
My life has taken a bit of a ‘Christy turn’ presently, and I’ve been placed in a situation with people I don’t always understand and often find difficult to truly love. With everything going on in the world as of late, I’ve been forced to stretch myself to new heights and really try to make some meaning out of my time with these often difficult individuals.
At the end of Christy, the mountain people are facing a pandemic similar to our modern day COVID-19 outbreak called typhoid fever. Lately, I remembered that factoid and reached for the book again to compare and contrast the two epidemics (because I’m nerdy like that).
The causes and cases of typhoid are eerily similar to our crisis today and as I read the last portion of the book, curiosity urged me to read the entire novel again.
Late last night, while reading I discovered something that keep me up sobbing half the night and into the wee hours of morning- the meaning of love.
The Meaning of Love
I was re-reading a part of the book where Christy, at first, has a problem with the smell of the unhygienic children. She tries to teach them about bathing and good hygiene to save her tender nose, but later in the school year she notices that the children no longer smell.
It wasn’t their hygiene that changed very much, it was her own love that eradicated the smell. The more she loved the children and cared about them individually, the less she cared or focused on how they smelled.
Reading that short chapter late last night broke something deeply in me. I realized for the first time what love actually is.
Love is simply a powerful force that changes things and people for the better and endures all things for it’s sake. In an instant a flood of ideas came to my mind about the meaning of love.
Love is a force of change. When a person feels love through the outpouring of charity, affection, and or attention they can be altered for a lifetime. With love a person can end an addiction, start a business, care more about themselves personally, become happier, and become a kinder or more gentle person.
With love children can learn, babies can form and grow in the womb, the elderly can live longer, the sick can be healed, the poor can become rich, those that hunger can be fed, those that lack knowledge can reach understanding, and those that morn can be comforted. With love, gang violence can reach a resolution, mental illness can be broken through, and suicide attempts and depression washed away.
What love can do is endless. It is a force that can knock down hatred, and build up the hurting, the dying and the weary. Love is just about the only superpower that exists in this material world.
Can I let you in a little secret? In 2016, I was slowly rebounding from serious depression after years of grieving and loss. I went someplace on a whelm one Summer’s Night and a special soul showed me attention and a little love for the briefest moment.
I’d been in hiding for a LONG time before that moment, because I was ashamed of myself and the route my life had taken. However, that night was the first time anyone had shown me attention or love in many, many years. That very brief encounter with love somehow encouraged me to buy a new laptop, a web host, this website (different name) and began my writing career the very next day.
That’s what love is. It’s a SUPERPOWER it’s a force that undresses grave clothes and causes resurrection of the soul. Love, even in fleeting dosages, is a life force.
I think the secret ingredient behind each of Jesus’s miracles, besides faith, was love. I believe Jesus was able to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and resurrect the dead simply because behind each great act of faith there was also an ocean of unyielding unwavering love.
Love is a hammer, a nail, and a bulldozer all at once. Love is a tool that can build the good in a person to excellence and tear down granite walls of hate, ignorance, and shame. Love mends cracks in confidence and erects homes built on hope and joy. Love shakes things up and can turn the entire world on it’s axis. Love crosses oceans and moves mountains.
Biblically, the scriptures states that love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). Also, the scriptures proclaim that “If we have not love we have nothing” (1 Corinthians 13: 3). The text does not boaster, fame, fortune, friends, or followers, but if we have not love we have nothing at all.
When we die, we can’t take our possessions with us, but we will be able to pack the love that we establish in our hearts for others on our voyage to eternity.
Love is an attitude corrector, a way-maker, a bridge, a healer, medicine, an elevator and a muse. Love is a living breathing thing that can confound every seedling of hate and birth itself even in bitter ground. Love is life, understanding, victory, peace, joy, satisfaction, stimulation, a conduit of energy, and help for every sorrow.
Love is and I’m so happy to finally understand the depths of the meaning. Now, the only question is how can I give it away freely for the rest of my life. . .
Comment below with your definition of love. What exactly does love mean to you?