On Saturday, a women’s group at my church gathered for our quarterly mini-retreat. The topic: what is love? We began by looking at romantic love – there are plenty of examples in songs, stories and films. Every fairy tale that begins “once upon a time…” ends in “… and they lived happily ever after”. Here’s a modern example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_2q1rclwNE
Sadly, that’s not the reality for many of us. Even in a happy marriage, a spouse may feel not quite fulfilled, a bit dry. You love your mate but sometimes you don’t like him or her. Every couple has their reasons for staying together, and there is help available to create a better marriage.
The 5 Love Languages (www.5lovelanguages.com) is an important tool that can save a dying marriage. Discovering your own love language, and that of your spouse – even of your children, parents, friends – learning to ‘speak’ that language, will enrich each of your relationships.
But there is another kind of love – deeper and more profound. As Mother Teresa expressed it, “how can you love God, whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor, whom you see?”She was echoing the words of Jesus, who said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”
The love that Jesus describes is an attitude of the heart. It’s an act of will, a decision, a series of choices and actions that you make intentionally. You can love someone you dislike or even hate. “Love your enemy” Jesus said. That doesn’t mean feeling warm and fuzzy about them; it means doing good, when you can do it, even to those who don’t deserve it.
We used a beautiful video clip from an old film, depicting Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus for the first time. It demonstrates some of the five love languages, as well as that bigger kind of love, to which we should all aspire.
Won’t you respond, as Mary did, to this kind of love?