Last week, we talked about four reasons to kill your Ego that aren’t very good, and how the Kill-Ego Crusade — that many self-help/New Age sects are obsessed with — is fueled by a misrepresentation of the Oneness and love of God.
And as promised, today we’ll talk about the concrete actionable steps of love.
Love is a verb
Love is probably the most talked about and idolized human emotion. But all the buzz around love isn’t necessarily true.
It’s easy to misunderstand love. Yes, it is a human emotion, a feeling, a state of being. But it’s not limited to that. And that feeling itself is only one element of love.
Love must be tested to be true.
You can sit in a room and feel love for the planet all day long. But if you use inaction to avoid the planet, or self-centered activities to avoid going out into the world and putting your love to the test, it’s questionable how much you really do love.
Because love is something that you do.
If you don’t act in loving ways, but claim that you feel it, you won’t fool anyone for too long.
Your actions speak louder than any “I love you.”
Because love is something that you do.
Love is a powerful verb
To illustrate how powerful a verb love is, let’s look back to an article from Valentine’s Day, Why Neither Monogamy Nor Polyamory are More Natural.
This is a controversial article, but the aim of it is very simple: to deconstruct what we commonly refer to as love, in the romantic context.
The takeaway point from the article is this: Loving someone romantically has absolutely nothing to do with relationship style; romantic relationships are co-consented social constructs.
(This takeaway point was also expanded upon in Two Gifts of Unrequited Love.)
What this means is that a man can love a woman romantically, incredibly, deeply, while still consenting to her seeing other men — essentially through an open, or polyamorous relationship.
And this means that a man can love a woman romantically, incredibly, deeply, while only consenting to a closed relationship, which entails exclusivity, or monogamy.
Why love is not bound by romance
Talk to happy monogamous and polyamorous couples, and they will tell you the same thing: they are romantically, incredibly, and deeply in love.
Sounds crazy, right? How could opposite romantic relationship styles be founded upon the same thing?
It’s because they aren’t really opposite, they’re different.
And, they are only romantic relationship styles, personal preferences — where both partners’ relationship needs are honored. Monogamy and polyamory only work when both partners consent, when both partners value and want it.
Again, what partners want in the romantic context has absolutely nothing to do with how good, righteous, noble, spiritual, conscious, or loving they are.
Romantic relationships are about the nitty-gritty practicalities in life, like boundaries, and having limited precious resources of time, energy, attention, and emotion. You have only so much of those things to share — who are you going to share them with first, second, third, fourth, and why? When? How? These are tough questions, but they define all of our relationships.
You can’t use the romantic context to define love as a verb, because love is so powerful, so universal — it’s not bound by romance.
And it’s simple. Because it’s actionable. And it has three concrete components.
Love is respect
Respect is taking extra care to honor another’s personal boundaries, whether they are explicitly stated or implied and intuited.
Disrespect is overstepping another’s personal boundaries, by trying to tell them what they need, trying to tell them what to think, or other behaviors that come with arguing, debating, and other monstrosities in destructive behavior.
Respect requires patience, mindfulness, empathy, kindness. Respect is honoring another human being for who they want to be and how they want to be treated — even if you disagree, think they don’t really know who they are, or think they’re not really sure how they want to be treated. Respect is keeping all this to yourself, unless they ask for your opinion, or unless you really do need to speak up.
Respect is giving them space… to be themself, without your negative judgment.
Love is acceptance
Acceptance is required for respect to blossom.
You need to accept a person, “flaws and all,” for exactly who they are, in order to honor them.
You also need to accept that it’s not your place to change them or fix them — those are codependent aspirations anyway.
Acceptance is really, really hard. It can be excruciatingly painful.
But it’s worth it, and it’s beautiful. And it’s the only way a relationship can blossom.
Love is surrender
Okay, surrender is like acceptance on steroids, but it does deserve its own category. Because accepting a person is one thing, but accepting all the crazy life events that get in the way of having a healthy relationship through which to express love to that person on a continual basis is another thing — that’s hard and the odds are often against you in some way.
Which means it requires some reinforces, heavy artillery, tough-as-nails resilience, or surrender.
When you surrender in love, you let go of the outcome completely. You simply do all that you can that is loving, and let the rest take its place. If that means the person you love hardly notices you as a blip in their world, so cry it. If that means facing to the fact that there is love, but that a relationship just isn’t possible right now, so be it. If that means letting go of the person you love because the relationship isn’t a priority for them, so grieve it.
When you surrender in love, truly surrender, you let go of the illusion of control, and the allure of the happy ending. In its place, you gain something far more valuable, far more real.
Real, true, deep, love. Not a lusty feeling or the three magic words. But the real thing.
That can be tested and weathered, and that can endure a lifetime of pain and strife and heartache and challenge.
That’s the heart of love. That’s is strength. It’s power.
And that’s why it’s a verb.
What is love to you?
Do these three components of love make sense to you? Do you have a different perspective on love?
Share in the comments, and let’s discuss the probably most talked about and idolized human emotion.