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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All you need is love...

Admit it, now you are thinking about that song.  It's contagious.  But, perhaps it's nice to think about the things that make you smile.  Today as I write this, it would be my late brother's 49th birthday.  He didn't feel loved enough.  I hope he feels it now, but perhaps in the meantime, I can show love to those still here...

I was at a Wednesday evening bible study at my church and our head minister was leading the class.  I don't remember the exact breakdown of the topic matter, we talked about different types of love.

As we know English doesn't do justice to the concept of love.  The same word is used to describe happy feelings towards ice cream vs. romantic feelings towards your significant other vs. warm/selfless feelings towards your kids, etc.  Context is everything in this regard.

I believe the ancient greeks had a good fix on the concept of love

  1. Eros: Love of the body.  That is to say sexual lust or erotic love based on sexual attraction.  In other words a sort of 'tension'.  This can be an important part of a relationship, but in a healthy relationship it is just one aspect.  In an unhealthy relationship, it can be mistaken for a deeper love.  That's why it is important that this type of love is not explored at too early age as it can warp one's view of 'love'.  It can cause a focus on the body being the source of love.

  2. Philia:  Love of the mind.  When you share values, disposition and interests, this type of love exists and can flourish.  This is type of love you have for a brother or a really good friend.  This can be a strong component of a healthy relationship.  Where feelings of eros towards a spouse may fade in time, philia can keep a relationship going strong.  Philadelphia is the "City of Brotherly love" and its name is partially derived from this word.

  3. Ludus: Playful love.  It is child-like in nature.  Think of the joy you feel when you dance or laugh.  Think of the love that is associated with it.  It's fun love.  The way I see it this love flourishes when you have moments of "Lightness of Being".  I see this type of love being a connecting type of love in a relationship.  That is to say the type that when times are tough we can remember the good times and remember why love our spouse.  It is also is a type of love if we let go with our spouse, can break the tension.

  4. Pragma: Longstanding love.  This is the highest form of love in a relationship.  It develops over time.  It is a mature love.  It is commitment or a give and take in a relationship.  It is important to build and nurture this type of love as it can come in handy when your spouse needs you.  Times such as seeing them fight cancer.   In a sense, it is a pragmatic type of love.

  5. Agape: Love of the soul.  This is the type of love that God has for us and showed through Jesus.  It is love of humanity.  It is the most selfless type of love.  This is the type of love that can help us sympathize, empathize and connect with people we don't know.  I think this is why when we read or hear about a 'touching' story, it moves us.  We can related on some level.

  6. Philautia: Love of the self.  It is said that before you can truly love others, you have to love yourself on some level.   So, this love has to be present to love others.  However, it has to be the right form of Philautia. This can either be a healthy regard you have for yourself--one that allows you the space to love others. Unfortunately, it can be narcissistic--which is a consuming selfish type of 'love' of yourself which doesn't allow the space to love others.  

  7. Storge: Love of the child.  This is the connection or bond in which you have with your child(ren).  It is a natural sort of love.  When this love is present we forgive, accept and sacrifice.  Where pragma takes work, storge is natural.  Ultimately, I see pragma approaching storge in intensity or commitment with a lot of work and time.  I see pragma as the grown up type of storge that we would have for our spouse.  In a way, storge is what God displayed for us when He gave us His only begotten Son to atone for us.
My takeaway:  philautia or love of self has to be present to some degree to give us space for the other types of love.  But, if we have the other types appropriately present in our lives, it can help enhance our love of self.  Alternatively, if we 'love ourselves too much' aka narcissism, it can smother our ability to love others properly.  But, as I see it narcissism is not necessarily an authentic love of self, but can be a fragile 'love' of self requiring our attention to constantly feed it.  Finding the balance of self-love is I think the key to being able to show/feel/display love properly in all its forms.  And the key to finding the balance I believe is seeing ourselves as the Father sees us.

Love your spouse, your children, your fellow man, but don't forget to love yourself or don't completely indulge yourself in your own love.  

The final takeaway: On this Christmas season, I think it is important to remember to love others as the Father has loved us.  

Love,
Rich

All you don't need is hate... is a blog about the opposite idea.