Saturday, July 6, 2013

What’s Love?

image I have been in this calling for a long time and have seen trends that are consistent even when ward membership changes so dramatically from year to year. One of those consistent trends is a discussion of love. This makes total sense. We are, after all, a singles ward. Many members are meeting their future spouses while living within our boundaries. So it comes as no surprise that I am often asked to help people come to understand love.

Now, of course, there are many meanings to the word love. I have no intention to try to delineate love and its different expressions. My aim to provide you greater clarity on the type of love necessary to gently push a budding relationship towards marriage.

image To start out, let me explain what I feel is the facade of love. By facade, I mean it has all the trappings of love. It looks and feels like love. But, scratch beneath the surface and there is really nothing there. Hence, it is called a facade.

image The facade of love is best expressed in the giddy feelings that come when you think about, dream about, or are even in the presence of that person you think you are in love with. This feeling was best descried by Thumper in Disney’s Bambi, as twiderpation. The more mature word to use is infatuation. Contrary to popular opinion, this emotional turmoil is not love.

While it is true that infatuation may lead to love. This transition from the facade to the substance of love has lead many potentially great relationships to break up for no good reason. Too often, I have seen great relationship end up in heartbreak when one or both people feel the spark is gone or that they are not feeling it.

Now, I will admit that couples have the right to explore a relationship and determine if it is right. This is a vital part of your current social situation. You are not meant to marry everyone you meet. But if your sole reason for questioning the potential of a relationship is simply because the infatuation is over, then I question your motives.

Married couples cannot sustain an infatuated relationship. It would kill them in a week. Married couples must quickly learn that love is more than an all consuming feeling. Rather, love a journey that two people take requiring their best effort everyday. It evolves, it changes, and it deepens over time.

image The problem many of you face is that you judge the love you need to marry someone by a benchmark that is not allotted you at this time in your life. Many of you look to your parents or to beloved leaders as an example of the type of relationship you want before you enter into marriage.

This is unrealistic. Those relationships you look at as being the definition of love only came after years, if not decades of hard work, constant nurturing, and massive personal changes. You don’t get that at this time of your life. Instead, you get the confused, muddled, and even down right frightening version of that all consuming emotion called love.

image As I have explained to many of you, Alma’s lecture on faith is a perfect recipe for understanding love. He teaches that faith is to be compared to a seed. When you first plant it, if it is a good seed, you will feel stirrings. Soon, a seedling appears. If you are not careful, you will find yourselves rejoicing at the seedling but neglecting its care. In a short amount of time, the seedling will wither and die. Why? Because it was not nurtured. Faith cannot grow without constant nurturing.

I feel faith is nothing more than a relationship with God. So Alma is talking about how relationships work. Infatuation is the stirrings that let us know a relationship may work. Once that seedling of love appears, the work of love begins. At this point, the infatuation is over. It is the work of love that causes great couples to shy away from that seedling and look elsewhere. The problem with that is if they walk away because of the work, then they will likely find that same problem with the next relationship.

This is why I feel love is misunderstood. Love is not so much a feeling as it as an opportunity to work.

What do you think?