Real love

“Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” I Cor. 13:4-7

Love from and for another fellow human being is one need every person strongly desires. All want to be loved and to love a special person.

It is sought at even a young age.  Young children have a friend that they “love” for a brief period of time; usually until they get their feelings hurt, or do not get their own way.  That brief emotion they felt, soon changes to “I hate you” when they feel let down or betrayed.  That was not real love.

Young twitter-pated teens “fall in love” with a musician because of the strong feelings they experience when they are touched by a song they hear on the radio. Many young people have similar emotions because of the way a classmate dresses, the “coolness” of an acquaintance, or just a brief attraction that quickly develops over a person they barely know.  That infatuation is usually not real love, either.

Others experience strong emotions, because of a physical attraction they have for a person. Some feel “love” because the person listens to them, has the same habits and interests, seems to be a solution to a problem one is having, or has a character trait that the other admires. Often “love” is given so that another is obligated to return the same emotion.

At times an obsession comes on quickly (“love at first sight”) and is so strong that both parties get married quickly or do not even wait for  marriage and “shack up” after briefly knowing each other. Those passions and crushes often are not real love either. The length of the majority of those type of relationships verifies that fact.

As I get older, and have experienced many of the above “loves,”  I am more able to identify “real love”.  I have seen real love displayed in a multiple of ways.  I have seen it in the eyes of the wife, as she walked down the aisle of church, with her arm in her husband’s arm as their 6oth wedding anniversary was publically recognized before the whole congregation.  It is seen in the face of a troubled mother, as she frets over a high fever her child has endured for several days. Often it is expressed when a broken-hearted parent has to discipline a child, when it is so much easier to just ignore the child’s bad behavior. The concern that the child would “not turn out alright” was more important than the heartache that would be felt when the child was punished. Love was certainly shown and seen when a husband faithfully attended to all his wife’s needs as she battled years of cancer.

I have seen it often at nursing homes, also.  I saw it when one spouse could no longer function at home, and was separated from the other in a care facility.  The faithful husband visited the wife every day for at least eight hours for more than 12 years.  That was real love.  I saw it in an aging mother’s actions as she came most days to visit her middle-aged handicapped daughter. Love was clearly shown as that mother painstakingly moved most parts of the daughter’s body in an exercise class, so the immobile “child” would be exercised.  That was real love!

Real, staying, committed love is not necessarily the emotions experienced in flirtation, excitation, infatuation, or even stimulation.  Real love is the kind that endures no matter what it faces.  It is not motivated by self-gain, and is given freely. Often it is not appreciated, but it is still given. Real love is a rare relationship that should be appreciated and treasured when it is given.

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