Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Is Love?

I have a best friend.
Me and T in college:

(I'm on the right.  I added photoshopped face stickers to hide our true identities.  Are you fooled?  My facial hair isn't that far off from what I'm really sporting... pregnancy doesn't help the situation much.  And you should also know that my friend and I bonded and continue to bond over our ridiculously long legs. Women plagued with long legs and no money HAVE to stick together.)
We've been best friends since I was born (she was already 2 1/2 months old).  We grew up together, went to high school together, roomed together in college, and keep in touch today.
We live separate lives, but we never feel the awkwardness of distance or interests.  Time spent together is never wasted on, "How are you's" and "What are you up to's?"
It's more a relationship of texting hilarious pictures and wondering if we've seen this movie or that movie.  We always pick up right where we left off.  She is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

When we were very young, her grandmother passed away.  I didn't really comprehend what had happened -I was too young to understand sympathy.
Years later, she confessed, "I was really sad when I heard that my Grandma died.  I burst into tears, and my mom just held me and rocked me.  But I wasn't crying because she died.  I was crying because Grandma was in the middle of making me a doll that she'd promised me... and I knew I'd never get it."
We laughed about that -about how funny kids can be about things.

Lately I've thought more about that story.  I recently read a blog post written by Colleen Harrison.  In it, she states that someone pointedly asked her, "Do you go to God because you love him or because you want to use him?"

When I started recovery, I expected to learn about porn.
What I ended up really learning about was LOVE.

I've learned that I can only run so far (a block -on a good day), read so much (15 minutes and I'm OUT), cook so much, crochet so much, do so many jumping jacks, drive so far...
But love?  There is no physical limitation to love.
I've come to believe that much like the Atonement, I will never come to fully grasp how resplendent love can be until I'm out of my physical body.
As we sing in "If You Could Hie to Kolob" : There is no end to love.

I used to believe that the sole reason we are here is to be tested.  While that's true, I now see that the we are here to LOVE -to test our love, strengthen our capacity to love, and to share, give, and develop more and more love.  The first four commandments are LOVE centered.
I used to think there was two kinds of love.
This kind:
The kind of newborn pictures I want -I absolutely agree with her point of view.  Great read if you're expecting and wanting newborn pictures taken!

And this kind of "love":


(I've never actually read any of the Twilight books, but you don't have to read them to KNOW about Edward and Bella.)
(PS: Is Edward wearing more lipstick than Bella?  I'm not judging...)

Now I'm realizing that there's more.  So very much more -and it is all Christ-centered.
One day I had to look myself in the mirror and face the facts: I do not love my husband unconditionally.  I love my children unconditionally, but I love my husband when he does what I think he should do.
The first time I said it to myself, I felt wretched.
The second time I said it to myself, I felt human.
The third time I said it to myself, I felt a hunger for more -to learn more, know more, try more.

It sent me on a never-ending quest.  I can strive to understand love for the REST of my mortal life and still never reach the bottom of the barrel.  There is no bottom.  There is no end.

A year and half ago, I sat next to my husband and told him matter-of-factly that he was one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.
"I like you a lot," I said.
"That sucks." He said... because the "I don't love you" was loudly implied.
Is that a reason to split up?  Not for us because gosh darn it all if we don't just all out really LIKE living together.
The love grew back, and it continues to ebb and flow.
I'm working on learning to love unconditionally.  Is it humanly possible?  That's what I'm trying to find out for myself.
Right now I'm asking myself if I love my Savior because I want to use him or because I truly love him.
I asked my husband for his thoughts on it.
"I think we can learn to love someone by using them -not always, but sometimes that how it starts."
And I immediately thought of my friend and her unfinished doll.  My thoughts slowly drifted from that to my own children.  Did they love me the minute they went from inside my body to my hungry arms?
They wanted to use me, and they still do.  But I know they love me.
And therein lies my answer: my love for my Savior (and husband, for that matter) is immature, but it is love all the same.
It's growing, blossoming, and maturing -slowly but surely.
I use my Savior, this is true.  Is it bad?  No.  I'm his child.  I'm dependent on him for the very breath I take, the very life I live.
I love my Savior, this is also true.
The answer to the question isn't an either/or answer for me.  It's more of an if/then.
We should go to the Lord because we love him.  We should go to the Lord when we need him.

And so, my Love Journey continues.
My husband admitted a few months ago that he longed for that part of recovery... to understand love the way I was learning to understand it.  I hope someday he will open his mind and heart to everything recovery has to offer: it's a bright and wild new world that elevates life from the level of cheap chocolate to high quality ganache. (Thanks be to Peggy for that analogy.)
Speaking of which: I need to get to the store... there will be ganache tonight!

making THESE today.


  1. Your posts are always so engaging and yummy!
    Makes me want more, like chocolate.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and testimony on love. There were a few conference talks about it, that I want to re-watch. I have been feeling a need to show more unconditional love for my husband lately instead of the immature love.

    He is a snuggle bear and loves having his back scratched of which I hate to do, because my older brothers use to say they'd pay my sisters and I to scratch their back when we were little and we never reaped the reward of one cent from our labors.

    Last night he asked me to scratch his back and for the first time I actually wanted to do it. It wasn't quick and inpatient like I had done in the past, but I took time and care and focused on how he might be feeling instead thinking about myself and all I could be doing.

    It was a break through for me.

  2. Working on learning unconditional love is HUMBLING. I used to think I was good at love. But all I was really good at was faking my feelings for my husband and doing everything I could to make him like me in hopes that he wouldn't look at porn.
    I thought I was so wonderfully self-sacrificing.
    Now I can see that I was being very co-dependent. and dishonest.

    Today I don't do all of those little things he loves so much because he doesn't give back in the ways I'd like him to.
    It doesn't make it right. I'm still healing.
    Learning about pure Christlike (unconditional) love is really helping.
    PS: I LOVE back scratches and foot rubs and every other touchy-feely thing possible. I'm pretty sure I was a kitten in my first life ;)

  3. I love the pictures! The mommy and baby picture is one of the sweetest pictures I have ever seen and makes me want to snuggle my babies close, even the ones that aren't babies anymore.

    The Edward and Bella picture is awesome because that whole relationship is so weird. I've never read the books, but saw the first movie and that was MORE than enough. And yes, I think he DOES have more lipstick than her.

    I also like the thoughts about am I using Christ or loving him. Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I only watched the first movie too! My sister and I watched it together, and we laughed ourselves silly! I've heard the movies get better after the first one, but I haven't bothered to find out. I'm sure they do get better (that HAVE to because I'm pretty sure they can't get worse)... but I'll stick to my old black and white flicks. You can't go wrong with Cary Grant.