My blog last week invited readers to take a few minutes to consider the subject of love, especially in light of a letter attributed to Albert Einstein. I noted and wanted to reiterate that the pandemic and the resulting isolation most of us have experienced has impacted our relationships, especially those involving some form of love.
When I started pondering this subject, one of the sonnets that kept popping into my head was the famous How do I love thee? written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the 1800’s. It creates quite an image of the many attributes of love.
Love is an amazing gift that many believe originates with God. Love is an intangible force, an energy that results in feelings of connection, support, nurturance, safety and other qualities that give meaning to life. In some ways it is the antidote to loneliness and isolation. It is the source of much of our joy, happiness, sense of purpose and value. When I think about these last 2+ years, these are the very things most of us have struggled with. Because we have been so stressed, we can also be less loving, less patient, less kind, more desperate to find love, feel loved, and be confident in the love of others towards us.
Love is not static. It forms, grows, adapts, changes as the needs of those in love relationships change. As a living entity, love needs to be nurtured to remain healthy. We have faced many challenges during this pandemic to find ways to nurture the loved ones in our lives and might not have been conscious of what they need to remain strong and healthy.
I invite you to consider one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, 1st Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 4 and 5, that provides specific attributes of love: “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints.
When I think back to my personal experiences with those in my life who I love, I realize that love is more than liking or enjoying the company of certain people. It is that much deeper connection. It is what fills my heart with joy and purpose. I hope those I love have felt deeply cared for, appreciated, valued and know they are incredibly important to me. I then circle back to God because it all started with Him. The Bible very clearly says that God is love. Why do we love? These verses say we love because He first loved us. That is where love began.
My faith tells me that God was, is and will be present despite the pandemic and probably more than ever, we need to grow and strengthen our love for others as well as our love for God. We also need to be receptive when others reach out to us with their love. We are so blessed to be able to give and receive love.
I invite you to take the time to reflect on what love means to you, how you have experienced it and what do you want to do to reinforce, strengthen, nurture and grow in your abilities to be loving and to receive love from others. I also encourage you to consider your own personal faith journey and what you believe about God and His love for you.
Invitation for Reflection
- What were some thoughts, images, personal experiences that popped up for you as you read this blog?
- What are some of the ways you want to enhance your experiences of loving others, loving God and loving yourself?
- What might be. some roadblocks to doing these things?
- How can you address those roadblocks and experience deeper, safer and more meaningful love?
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute