Love is one of the most powerful emotions we have in the universe. There are many different kinds of love that we feel with different degrees of intensity. It depends on who it is we are talking about. It colors our world and we find it all around us.
I believe we are born with the need and the want to love. As soon as a baby comes out of the womb, it hungers to make contact, to feel skin against skin. It turns toward the warmth of the mother’s body. That instinct is tied up with the need to survive, but I also believe there is an innate need in all of us to connect. There is this need to connect even in those who have been abused. Much to our chagrin, we find we endure a lot of pain and discomfort not to break the connection. Even abused children, for a while, will deny their own senses, memories, current experiences to believe the abuser is good and can love him or her. We want to know we are loved and we are driven to find that out for the rest of our lives. We also find our greatest joy when we give of ourselves in loving another person. Love exists on a continuum for all of us.
We connect in varying degrees with all we come in contact with. We say hi to the mailman or talk to the clerks in the store and the co-workers at our place of work. They become a part of our lives. For most of us, if any of our connections were in need, we would stop and help if we could. A lot of us would help a stranger we do not know or grab a child out-of-the-way of danger. That is a type of love, love for humanity.
There are people we become close to, who become a piece of the fabric of our lives. We feel a stronger connection to them: Members of our families, friends, lovers, those we go to for medical purposes, and those we have established ties with over time. We learn, that these special people we connect to, matter to us.
Some are easier to love because they are like us in many, many ways. Others we learn to love and we grow from it, because we learn that being different can enrich our lives, teach us valuable lessons we have not yet learned, and make us better people. We learn to live with their imperfections and they, with ours. We also learn that love is more than a feeling. It’s a decision that you make, wanting them in your life. You make a promise to work things out, to deal with unpleasant feelings, and to compromise. You accept the realization that love takes work. You don’t walk away when feelings get hurt, or you don’t get your way. This unconditional love is the strongest kind of love. It connects us to a river deep inside of us that flows towards God.