“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Someone that you have deprived of everything is no longer in your power. He is once again entirely free.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
How true it is that young or old, the search for love consumes us. I think that is what brings on frustration, disappointment, anger, bereavement, loss and fear. The need for love is stronger than any other need. I remember during a psychology course many years ago, there was an experiment about how animals search and need love. They used monkeys, and I don’t recall the details, but I remember they were comparing the monkey’s requirement for love versus their need for food. They wanted to prove which was the more powerful need. The surprising findings, even to the scientists performing the study, was that monkeys chose love over food.
I never gave it much thought at the time, but recently I contemplated this finding, and how important a parallel could be made to humans. At any given age we desire to be loved. At times if this requires changing our beliefs, attitudes and mindsets, most of us are willing to do that. Humans have a vital need to feel love. Nothing is more powerful a desire. As much as we search for it, we discover it is so elusive, and in the end most people settle. By settling I don’t believe it makes light of the love, but only proves the need is more important than the kind of love received.
When a child lives with criticism and pain, they accept this if it is the only connection they have to also receiving some love intertwined. Perhaps that is why they accept so much pain, and hurt, without complaining. They profess to love the most unworthy abusive parents, because they don’t want to jeopardize the love they do have. They in essence fear losing what little they receive. Kids are insecure and lack any confidence. Without parental approval and love, kids are crushed and defeated.
The same is true with abusive marriages. The abused person fears losing love, doubts they can ever gain it again, thus stays within a difficult situation. They choose to maintain the small gestures of love, they do receive. How sad for an adult to be insecure, regarding their ability to be loved and valued by others, or at least one other. Has society failed us in the most fundamental way?
We all search for friendships. We fear getting involved with new friends, due to our lack of faith in their sincerity. Our anxiety over losing what we already have in an old friendship, outweighs our entering a new connection. New friends find it difficult to break through the barriers we build, due to our own distrust. How similar we are to the children. Workplaces always find the “old” group excluding the newer members. In time probably a new member is accepted, but they find how precarious their position actually is, when the friendship is tested, and old friends stick together, regardless of who is right or wrong.
Families are likely the epitome of fear and anxiety. Somehow we believe we can’t accept new members to our group, because we have history with the older members. This past, forms an allegiance and unbroken trust. I am not saying any of this is right or wrong. I do believe we are all kidding ourselves. We find we are let down, or disappointed, by just about every person we come to trust. Of course we don’t consider the multiple times we offend others.
What we don’t take into consideration, is the fact that we are human, and have various moods on any given day. Our inner sense regarding one area of our life, may filter throughout other areas of our lives. We also must add the burdens and stresses of any given day. No wonder we don’t maintain an even keel, when sailing through our daily lives. Of course this uneasiness reflects in the way we treat others, whom we love or dislike.
The history we share with some people, promotes a more trusting attitude of acceptance. We cling to those relationships first, hoping to keep that love intact no matter how difficult we become, or others become. There is an understanding to this method, but also a lack of our ability to accept changes. Our fear and distrust keeps love at bay. We can’t afford to lose the love we know we have, so we refuse anything else that might be available to us. We sense it may threaten an already existing happy relationship.
I am also a follower of this concept so I am not criticizing this, but I am challenging myself to see beyond my preconceived notions of love. I think it can be found in many places but we don’t want to ruin existing love. I am not suggesting husbands and wives find new loves because that is not the kind of love I am talking about. I am referring to the sincere love we have for others, or others have for us, in its purest form. Marriages might also experience this kind of love.
What is built up for many years, is hard to lose. When it happens due to misunderstandings, death or break-ups of friendships, or marriages, it can feel devastating. Let’s face it, we can’t replace moms, dads, siblings or close friendships, spanning many years. I most definitely understand that. I guess I just want to let go of the fear of loving new people, and caring for these new people in my life. I want to add to my love circle rather than shut it down.
I know there are times when people we love fail us, but then again when I am so caught up in my own issues, I fail those I love. I don’t mean to do that, and I am always grateful when they forgive, and hopefully forget. I must remember to return the favor when necessary. It occurs to me that love is not blind, without pain, without fear and without anxiety. Love demands seeing others at their core, and appreciating the goodness that we see. Perhaps there are times we observe what we don’t like, but when observing beyond the obvious, we also look at the goodness that we love about them. That is what binds us, and keeps us stable. Love also demands that we forgive. That is the hardest of all things to do. It is easy to love everyone, until they disappoint us, or hurt us. Then it is virtuous to forgive, and godly to forget.
Most likely that is why we shy away from taking on more people to love. I see it this way. Yes it is without question, more painful, but it is worth it because of the tremendous amount of love bestowed on us. Taking the chance or leap of faith required of us, is worth the love returned to us. I don’t want to close my heart, due to painful situations. I don’t want to make rules and regulations, for people to follow in order to gain my love. I want to love freely, and sincerely, and have faith it will be returned. There will be no exact measurement of the give and take, but there will be love and happiness. I won’t compare, only enjoy what is presented to me. I can’t and won’t enclose any of the people I love, which basically keeps them from loving others. I will simply enjoy whatever love comes back at me.
“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” Meryl Streep
“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.” Parker J. Palmer
“It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.” Desmond Tutu