Since the word love is so widely used, the true meaning has been obscured. “You’ll love your new car”; “love your carpet; Try Flippity Dippity shampoo and you’ll love your hair”. Often mistaken with sexual attraction, love has lost its true meaning.
When children tell their mother, “I love you Mommy, I love you Daddy” The statement certainly comes from their heart. Parents are everything to their children. For a child, love is more gratitude than anything else. Children feel the security of the home, warmth of being held, even the disappointment when they are punished for a mistake. Love is about dependency when we are little. Too bad that often teenagers stop hugging and kissing their parents—“That’s child stuff.” Too bad that parents stop reaching out to their teenage children—which is the time that they most need their parents. Television, social media, friends take up almost every moment to the point that communication between parents and children is non-existent. We do not out-grow love. We allow distractions to become priority. The generation gap has always been, continues to thrive and will stick around until the end of time. How can young people know what love is if parents do not bother to explain? Do parents know what love is? We are all “damaged goods”. Everyone has suffered the disappointment of unmet expectations in a relationship. Often parents feel inadequate to talk about the “birds and the bees” with their children. “They’ll get it in school.” “A CCD teacher will explain.” “They’ll find out on their own.” Not the healthiest attitude to have in a family.
Babies think that the whole world revolves around them. As we grow we discover that other people are also important. The developmental years are vital in how we treat others in our adult life. Values, ethics, morals are learned behavior. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but no one can take the place of the parents and if one or both are lacking, the consequences can be negative. Song lyrics betray our hunger for meaning. “I want to know what love is.” We have a basic need: to love and to be loved. If the need is not fulfilled we can go insane. The mind will choose to plug out if there is no love in our life.
Little wonder that Jesus chose to speak about love often in His ministry. Our Lord gave us example by surrendering His life on the Cross. People, especially the forgotten people, were His priority. The one commandment that He gave us was to love—to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves. At times loving God is easier than loving the flesh and blood in our home. Being kind to strangers is not as difficult as the people we see every day. If we do not take care of ourselves, how can we take care of anyone else? How can we give what we do not have? Love starts with self-respect—knowing that God dwells in us, sustains us, loves us in spite of our sins. “…realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” Jesus offers us intimacy. He wants to be the most important person in our life. He wants us to fall in love with Him. As in any relationship, means we have to spend time with Him. Talk with Him. Listen to Him. “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” The result of spending time with the Lord is that we will be more like Him.
Love is never about what others can do for us but what we can give to others. True love will last forever.