是元好問寫的 "問是間 情是何物"
Since I'm not an expert in Chinese literature, I will leave the interpretation to all the available websites.
"What is love?"
This is probably one of the most popular questions people ask. "What is love?" Many people has asked me about it as well. If I search through my MSN conversation history, I will probably find many answers and interpretations that people gave me or I gave people when this question was asked. But, really, what is love? Do I have the answer now? I think I may have only small parts of it, just the parts that I've learned in 31 years, or practically this past 10 years because there is no way I would've known what love is all about when I was just starting to stand on my own feet. The reason why this question is so popular is probably because life is all about learning to love and to be loved. Many problems can be attributed to "no love". But, alas.... Being the most popular question as it is, yet it is the hardest question ever asked in the entire human history with diversified answers to the three word ending with "?", a big one....
My husband and I got married because we "fell in love" and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. But, did we "love" each other when we were dating? We may easily say "我愛你", "I love you," or "愛してる", or in whatever language you express your affection to your partner. But, love is not only the words that you gave to your partner. I'm not sure how many components "love" has, but I know it's deep, profound, and it has more to it than just "I love you."
The definition of love may vary for each individual. Not just the intellectual definition given in English dictionary, for us the individuals, love means many things. For some, it may mean "providing the daily needs." For others, it may be the physical affection and intimacy. Yet for some, it may mean loyalty although the scizzling feelings aren't there anymore. None of those are right or wrong because each one of us have our own "love language" that we use to speak to express our love.
"Love language" in Gary Chapman's book (cited by Nicky and Sila Lee in their book, "The Marriage Course") consists of 5 different sub-languages which are used to "put love into action." These five languages are:
1. Loving words
2. Kind actions
3. Quality time
4. Thoughtful presents
5. Physical affections
Dr. N. Lee says this in his "The Marriage Course":
"Love involves doing. It means reaching out to meet the needs of another often at a cost of oneself. In marriage, it may mean doing the washing up out of love for our partner when we would rather be watching television. It may mean sitting down to talk with our husband or wife when we would rather be getting on with some work. It may mean hugging our partner when we know that they have had a hard day. Only this sort of love is able to sustain a marriage relationship over many years, causing it to mature and to deepen." [Nicky and Sila Lee, The Marriage Course (Alpha International Publications 2000) pp. 77]
Whichever languages are used, added by Dr. Lee, the primary purpose is to meet our needs of knowing that "we are loved, we matter to another and we are special to them." So, should we use these languages randomly as often as possible? Apparently, that's not the rule here. Then what? What's next?
Well, Dr. Lee teaches us to discover our partner's primary love language, then act upon it! What this means is that we need to know which items in love languages matters the most to our partners. What's the second? And, what is the third? For example, my husband may feel loved when I jump up to give him a hug and kiss when he comes back from the day's exhausting office work. Meanwhile, I may feel loved when he stops what he was doing just to give the attention of his entire being to hear I was saying no matter how insignificant the contents of my speach may be. (Just some example, not necessarily true...) Likewise, each person has their most favorite and primary love language that they would love to be spoken for them to feel loved. Sounds easy? Not really. As simple as it may sound, the tricky part of this is that "we tend to express love in the way we like to receive it." And, Dr. Lee continues, "Despite our good intensions, this will not work if our husband or wife has different needs to our own." The secret tip of effectively using the love language is "to study each other, not with critical eyes, but with the eyes of love, searching for what our partner needs to make them feel loved and special."
Selfless love.... I guess, that's what it all comes down to. Putting others above yourselves, consider their needs, not ours, doing it for them... Somebody told me love is daily decision that you make each moment, not something that just happens, such as the scizzling feelings, the sparkling stars around two people who are in love, or the dancing bufferflies in our stomach when we see each other.... Feelings may just happen, and "fall in love" can seem to be a given fate by heaven, but love doesn't just come. Love involves continual decisions to "love" even in the end of the tiring day, even when our MC comes and we feel helplessly blue, or even when our partners offended us in anyway... Even when we are sad, angry, tired and yes, even when feel like hating than loving. And, yes, even if the other hate you or unlovable.... Dr. Lee uses a paragraph in Louis de Berniere's novel, "Captain Correlli's Mandolin," to illustrate what love is all about. It goes like this:
"Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second munite of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being 'in love', which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away... Your mother and I had it, we had roots that gre towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not tow." [Louis de Berniere, Captain Correlli's Mandolin (Secker & Warburg 1994) pp. 43 - 4]
Feelings will change, and flowers will wither. We may get skinnier, fatter or more wrinkles on our face as we age... "All the pretty blossom" that attracted us to notice each other may someday all "fallen from our branches." But, that's when true love starts. Love doesn't just last. it has to be maintained, cultivated, watered, nourished and grown. How long can it be maintained? Well, I guess, as long as we make effort to let it live and grow, and choose to love each and every day despite the circumstances. Of course, it's easier said than done. But, not impossible apparently. Jesus showed us what love is all about. He summoned all His teaching in one action: Dying with the death that He didn't even deserve for one single simple reason because He loved us. Yes, even for those who hated Him, and what more, those who literally killed Him. Because He knew what love is all about. He knew that love exists and is born when He choose to love, no, doesn't matter if the one whom you choose to love loves you or not. He demonstrated in His very action that love is freely giving without expecting anything in return... It doesn't cost anything for the one who was chosen to be loved. S/he has the freedom to decide to receive or to throw it away. Is it cheap, then? No. Far from it. It didn't cost us, but it cost Him, His very life...
The bible says:
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people with low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friend, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." [Romans 12:9-21]
Is it possible? I believe so. I may not achieve it today, tomorrow or next week. But, over the years, Jesus taught me that it is possible in Christ. In James 1:2-8, the very authour of this chapter, being a bright doctor himself, he believed in Christ with intelligence and critical minds, encourages us to ask God for what we are truly in need:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." [James 1:2-8]
Mark also assured us that God hears our prayer:
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." [Mark 11:24-26]
Furthermore, the authours Paul and Timothy wrote in their letter to Phillipians comfort and encourage us to keep praying and stay firm and gentle even facing difficulties:
"Rejoyce in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoyce! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practic. And the God of peace will be with you." [Philippians 4:4-9]
Love doesn't just happen. It is the consequence of our daily effort to love despite the tides that comes against us. Our love is washed, refined, purified, polished and made solid, firm and strong by the ruthless winds, monster-like storms and burning heat of sunlights in our journey of life. God gives us shelter to rest during the storm, tree shadows to hide from the sun heat, beautiful flower and it's sweet fragrance to smell after the long rain. Love is grown in such processes. I don't know much. But, I know this much that I want to choose to love each and every single day rather than let it die and wither. How my definition will be one year from today? How would it change and deepen? I look forward to it. I don't think it's easy. And, maybe, at times, I'd rather forget about it to choose the easy way out. But, I ask God today that He will give me strength to choose to love despite my own rebellious nature of giving it up. Marriage isn't the exception, either. It is actually the very good training of learning God's love: how to love, and how to be loved.
Dr. Lee concludes his chapter 5 (section 3 - Love in Action) with following words:
"We can let our marriage tick over. Or we can take the opportunity to have the best possible marriage. If we are to have a real sense of intimacy and a true enjoyment of each other, we must study one another with the eyes of love and then use our lives appropriately - our words, our actions, our time, our money and our body - to communicate love effectively." [Nicky & Sila Lee, The Marriage Course (Alpha International Publications 2000) pp. 84]
Lord, not only for my husband and me,
but to all, please help us to love each other
And, may the seed of love that Jesus planted in our heart
grow, flourish, blossom and bear new seeds of love to be planted in other's hearts
May we remember the promises that You gave to us in Bibles
May we find comfort and hope in your promises when things seem helpless
May we be able to stand firm and strong on the rock of Christ
Despite the circumstances, despite our own conditions,
may we choose to love
just like Jesus loves us....