Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Make Love Your Motive

A combination of too much Doctor Who this week, several recent church meetings and Facebook chat sessions, some sushi lunches with a friend of mine who calls me his dating advisor, and some pent up ideas from the last three years of my life have culminated in my thinking some really deep thoughts about love. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how well those ideas are going to come across for people who haven't experienced this particular combination of events. I'm asking those of you not on a Doctor Who bender to please, bear with me.
Hopefully you won't finish this post and feel like this.

I do this weird thing where I latch on to random moments in my life and build all of my personal philosophies around them. For example, about three years ago I was in this leadership meeting, and someone said, "What if the only question you had to answer when your life was over was "Did you learn to love?'" (This wasn't romantic love we were talking about - just your everyday "love thy neighbor" sort.) This really struck a chord with me. I remember thinking about it a few months later when I was discovering that sometimes loving people that way can be really hard - even painful. It's not like you can just resort to a breakup when it's a friend instead of a boyfriend, especially when that person really needs you to keep loving them.

Then one night when I was talking to a friend about some of my concerns and guilt about not knowing how to keep loving this person, he said, "Maybe that's what real love is - loving someone even when it's hard and you don't think you can. Maybe that's what makes your ability to love grow."

So I had these two thoughts floating around - what if learning to love were all that mattered, and what if the way to learn was to keep loving, especially when it's hard? And I wasn't entirely sure that either of these ideas were really viable, but they helped me to figure out how to respond to my life at the time, and then I just filed them away for a little while and didn't think about them.

Then on Sunday, I was in a church meeting and my friend Kristen was giving a talk. There was a lot of great stuff about Nancy Drew and jazz music, but the part that really got to me was when she said that at some point in her life, she decided to make love her motive for whatever she did. She worked at it for several months, always responding to hard situations involving other people by thinking, "Love is my motive. Love is my motive." Then one day there was an accident and her brother dropped a crash cymbal on her guitar and broke it - and instead of being upset about the guitar, her first thought was for him and the way he'd be feeling, and she responded to him instead of to the damage to her guitar.

I remembered those ideas about love that I'd had, and suddenly (in light of this new information) everything became new and applied to my life now and to all of those love-related ideas I'd been mulling over while watching Doctor Who and eating sushi and chatting on Facebook. Loving is important - maybe the most important thing I can learn to do. Continuing to love when it's hard increases my capacity to love. Loving is a skill I can acquire with practice.

And then I thought, "Isn't it amazing how these ideas still work for me now, even though my concerns about loving people are different now? They're so adaptable! They can apply to all different kinds of love - even the kinds I don't know about yet!"

But of course they are - because love is adaptable. You can apply love to anyone and anything - and with love as your motive, how far off can your actions be? It just takes a little practice.


fierygiraffe said...

This made me cry. How simple and beautiful is the idea of honing your power to love? I must admit that I've never thought about practicing my ability to love, but it makes so much sense. It is easier to get mad at someone or even hate them than to work at loving them. Beautiful. All you need is love.

Julie W said...

Bravo...I am interested to hear how this has changed your everyday life specifically.

My recent experience with love this year has been in relation to my Church calling. I have realized it is very easy to love when you are supposed to. When I was in the primary presidency I loved and cared for each child deeply. Now that I am in the RS presidency, I have a strong love and concern for each sister. It is so easy to love when you have a stewardship over a group, but how can I keep a Christ like love for everyone all the time? Especially once I am released from a calling. This is something I try to always be mindful of.

Your idea about putting love first in your thought process is fun. Thanks!