What is love?
Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. Some may also define it as a great interest or pleasure in something. But what is the difference between ‘love’ and being ‘in love?’
Being ‘in love’ with someone or something can be defined as a ‘need’ one feels towards someone or something else for their own benefit.
To ‘Love’ someone or something on the other hand is more ‘selfless’ and does not know the meaning of ‘control.’ It is a desire to act in a way that benefits others- for the happiness and well-being of the person or thing that one loves even if it against oneself.
Why is Love important?
Love- where we feel a warmth in our hearts and souls at the happiness or well-being of someone else is often considered by many to be the driving force of Life itself. Many would agree that it is THE most important thing.
How does being ‘In Love’ affect us?
The feeling of being ‘in love’ can be like taking a drug: it can cause immense pleasure when we ‘have’ the person or thing that we are in love with in our lives in the way that we want or need, but it can also cause us immense pain if we cannot have that person or thing we are in love with in our lives. It can feel like we ‘worship’ that person or thing, and that without it we can feel hopeless, lost, unhappy, anxious- similar to how one may feel when coming off a drug that they have become addicted to, or alcohol. These emotions that come with being ‘in love’ can teach us a lot if we choose to reflect on them. They can also damage us and affect our future relationships, our interactions with others, and our home and work lives and family relationships depending on how much control it has over us.
Some may be in love with God or a person, or in love with money, or power, or with their job… Whatever it is we are ‘in love’ with- let us ask ourselves- is this feeling likely to be permanent? Can I trust completely the individual or thing that I am in love with? How is this feeling affecting me and those around me? Is this what I choose to worship and why? If being ‘in love’ with a person, or a thing is bringing more positivity into your life and to others around you- perhaps it is a good thing. But if it is causing you and others more harm- How do we break free from being ‘in love’ with it? Often this process of reflection itself and deciding that ‘love’ for ourselves and others is more important than being ‘in love’ is the first step from breaking free from an addiction. ‘Choosing’ both by intention following it through with speech and then with actions is the next step…
How can Love help us?
-When we feel loved, it helps us to feel more like a child- to know that someone or something out there cares about out well-being, helps for us to believe in ourselves more, to feel less lonely, to feel part of something greater than just ourselves. This can make us feel more ‘happy’ and ‘at peace’ with ourselves, and give us hope that we will be forgiven for our mistakes and errors- especially if we believe that the love is everlasting. Belief in conditional love can also help us to mend our ways, learn from our mistakes and to encourage us not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again because of the fear of losing the thing or person that loves us- because we know that without the feeling of being loved, we will feel alone, lost, hopeless, guilty, and it will affect our self-esteem and ability for us to love ourselves. Being loved helps to increase our confidence in ourselves and in others, and can enable us to be more comfortable with being ‘true to ourselves’ and our purpose in life, as well as following our dreams and aspirations. It therefore makes it more likely that we will be successful in all that we do.
-The more we love ourselves, the more we are able to love others. The more we love others, the more we are able to love ourselves.
-When someone loves us more than they are in love with us- they desire our happiness and freedom, more than the need to control us. They set us free. It is like being a bird trapped in a cage that is set free to fly. Or like a fish in a river- the life of which we spare because its life and happiness means more to us than the desire to eat it.
How can love help others?
Loving someone or something else enables us to want for them what we would want for ourselves. It makes it more likely therefore that we treat others in the same way that we ourselves would want to be treated. We become more considerate about their needs and wants to the same level or beyond our own. We find it easier to speak kind words, engage in acts of kindness, give to charity, help people who need or ask for help from us. The more we love others, the more likely we are to sacrifice of what we love for ourselves, for their benefit. Love is selfless. If someone loves something or someone else, they want what is best for that individual, so they would want to help that person be true to themselves- no matter what- even if it means going against us, or if it means losing that person from our lives.
When we love others- we are more likely to be able to forgive or pardon their faults or errors- we enable them to feel like a ‘child’- like how we ourselves feel when we ourselves are loved. We enable and inspire them to be true to their purpose, to believe in themselves, and therefore be more successful in whatever they do. We teach them- through loving others- about the importance of kindness, of self-sacrifice, of compassion, of patience and forgiveness.
Love involves sacrifice. It involves kindness, generosity, compassion, patience and forgiveness.
When we ‘love others’ more than we are ‘in love’ with them, our ‘need’ for that person is overcome by the desire for that person to be happy, or be ‘true’ to their purpose for their own benefit. We set them free to ‘choose’ their own path if we truly believe that it will be for their benefit. It helps them and ourselves to overcome that need for control.
How can we feel more loved by others?
Kindness is the key. When we are kind to others, help them during their hour of need, and use speech and our actions to help them feel like someone cares, help them feel loved and valued, and listened to- when we treat others how we want to be treated- most find that this naturally attracts others towards us. By showing them love and affection, and forgiveness- while not following it by injury or reminders of our kindness- we help them to believe more in love- in altruism, and feel more comfortable to express that emotion to others including ourselves.
Many who believe in God, believe that He is the Most Loving, and that when we love others, we feel more loved by Him. When we love Him more than anything else, we let go of the need to feel loved by others- because we believe that His Everlasting Love for us is enough, and everything else is just an addition to that.
Often we chase relationships and try to make others fall ‘in love’ with us because we want to feel ‘needed’ or ‘wanted’- only to find that when we find someone who falls in love with us- they try to control us- and as we change as a person- this control can hold us back from reaching our purpose or goals in life- it can hold us back and make us feel suffocated. Sometimes we are so desperate for someone to love us that we might ‘pretend’ to be someone we are not, just to please that person- to try to make them love us more, or make them want or need us in their lives. Often when that person finds out that our true nature is not what the same person that they fell in love with or loved, with time, that love can evaporate and we are left feeling heartbroken, and stop recognising ourselves anymore when we look into the mirror.
So we can sometimes ‘delude’ others into loving us if we choose not to be true to ourselves- but what we realise is that the love we thought they had for us is not ‘real’ and it does not ‘grow’ and it forsakes us, and we lose ourselves in the process.
We cannot ‘compel’ others to love us in the real sense or force them to fall in love with us by chasing them and pretending to be something we are not. Because when they realise that it has false- they may feel deceived and this can affect the trust in the relationship and respect for the individual.
How can we love others more?
Often the feeling of love just comes naturally. It is the driving force of life, and tends to be an innate emotion that grows from birth, depending on our experiences, our upbringing and the level of love that was shown to us. The more love we are shown, the more we often feel able to express to others around us. The more loved we feel, the more we are able to love others. So if we do not feel loved by others, and if we feel unable to both be true to ourselves while trying to convince others to love us, then we must start with trying to love ourselves first
How can we love ourselves more?
To love ourselves let us remind ourselves first- what is the meaning of love? – it is an emotion that comes with setting we love ‘free’ and often involves sacrificing ourselves for that person or thing. So what do we mean by ‘loving’ ourselves? It is not the same as being ‘in love’ with ourselves- they are opposites. One is selfless, and giving, and the other is controlling, needy, and narcissistic.
So to learn how to love ourselves more, we have to convince ourselves that we are worthy of love. This involves self-reflection and self-analysation. It involves critical thinking, and starts with the intention of ‘bettering’ ourselves to be able to convince ourselves that we are worthy of love. It also involves the ability to accept that we are able to stay true to ourselves while adapting our behaviour- because souls constantly change, just because we learn from our past and from others- does not mean we are not being true to the person we truly are- it is a process of enabling us to become the person that we choose to be.
We can start by asking these questions:
Do I have anyone or anything in my life that I ‘love’ so much that I would go out of my way to help them in their hour of need? If the answer is yes- reflect on the characteristics of that person or thing- what is it about them that they do or say or behave that makes you feel ‘love’ for that person or thing? It might be a pet, or a religious leader, your child, your parent—anyone or anything that you love? Write down on paper the characteristics that attract you to that person or thing- that make you feel that intense feeling of deep affection.- It might be that you only feel these emotions when they are acting in a certain way- reflect on the behaviour that makes you feel love for that person or thing- and use it as a role model for guidance- If we do this exercise with more than one person, we often see a pattern, and we can then use that pattern of behaviour that enables others to feel loved by us, as guidance for us to adapt our behaviour in a way that is more likely for us to feel more loved.
(Above Writings are based on the reflections of Dr Lale Tuncer)
Scripture quotes on love
Enjoy life with the wife you love. King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 9:9
It is not good for man to be alone. Genesis 2:18
There-fore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:26
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine. King Solomon, Song of Songs 1:2
I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me. King Solomon, Song of Songs, 2:16
Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, ‘I will work for you seven years… So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him a few days because of his love for her. Genesis 29:18-20
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18)
One who has found a wife has found goodness, and has brought forth favor from God. King Solomon, Proverbs 18:22
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
“His banner over me is love.” Song of Songs 2:4
“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His Love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His Unfailing Love and His Wonderful Deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9
“Your Love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your Faithfulness to the skies. Your Righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your Justice like the great deep.” Psalm 36:5-6
“But you are a Forgiving God, Gracious and Compassionate, slow to anger and Abounding in Love…” Nehemiah 9:17
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
“Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.” Proverbs 10:12
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great…" Luke 6:35
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death… Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” Song of Songs 8:6-7
“I will declare that Your Love stands firm forever, that you established Your Faithfulness in Heaven itself.” Psalm 89:2
“The earth is filled with Your Love, O Lord…” Psalm 119:64
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
“But be very careful…to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to Serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My Unfailing Love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of Peace be removed,’ says the Lord, Who has Compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3-4
“Because Your Love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.” Psalm 63:3
‘And He is The Oft-Forgiving, The Most Loving.’ Quran 85:14
‘Indeed those who have believed and done righteous deeds- The Most Merciful will appoint for them affection.’ Quran 19:96
‘Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in God, certainly, God loves those who put their trust in Him .’ Quran 3:159
‘And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought’ Quran 30:21
“The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear God that you may receive mercy” Quran 49:10
“And do good; indeed, God loves the doers of good” Quran 2:195
“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of God] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, God is Knowing of it” Quran 3:92
‘Worship God and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, God does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.’ Quran 4:36
‘Say: If you should love God, then follow me. God will love you and forgive you your sins, for God is Forgiving and Merciful.’ Quran 3:31
‘Be good. Verily, God loves those who are good.’ Quran 2:195
O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear God, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, God is ever, over you, an Observer. Quran 4:1
‘They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them’ [Quran 2:187]