We bandy around the word love in everyday life. People say it to each other, we sign-off in letters and greeting cards with it, songs are written about it and it’s a favourite topic in romantic movies.
We use the word ‘love’ in everyday life, but I have questioned whether we have lost the true meaning of the word, or at the very least I have questioned my own understanding of this word.
This word ‘love’ is crucial to each of our lives and to the whole of humanity, but what if the meaning has changed? What happens if the quality that we know to be love is reinterpreted and replaced with something that is not love? And why is love so important in our world – for we all appear to be chasing it.
Growing up, as a teenager I thought love only came from having a boyfriend. I created an image of love based on what I had learned on the movie screen and usually it went something like this: meet a boy, feel a sensation in the body that is labelled love, have sex after the first meeting and there the movie ends with the impression of happily-ever-after for this new couple.
It seems foolish of me to have fallen for the movie scene particularly now as I write it, but I truly believed this was love and this was what I set out to have for myself. I was on a mission to find this feeling called love, and I had seen hundreds of times in movies how it was to be found.
Despite following the script perfectly, overriding any feelings of apprehension or uncertainty, I never did find a relationship that had this happily-ever-after feeling. If one relationship did not work, I tried again using the same formula in an effort to find the ‘right’ man.
In my early 30s I thought I had found Mr. Right. We married shortly after meeting and within weeks I was pregnant. Midway through my pregnancy, I wondered whether Mr. Right was really Mr. Right, but I kept working towards this picture because happily-ever-after was now before me… or was it?
Happily-ever-after was not even in sight, let alone before me.
I had confused love with lust and attention. I had made love to be something that was to be found on the outside of me, something that I would receive from another. In fact, what I was feeling was not love at all, but more the filling of an emptiness and an excitement about the possibility that this emptiness would now dissipate forever because somebody else was here to take it away.
As I look back I can see that there was no foundation of love in myself, let alone in my relationships, so each relationship became a struggle. When I felt something wasn’t right within my own relationship, I turned to other women for support only to find that their own lives were the same as my own. I resorted to thinking that “this is just the way it is,” and would settle down in my uncomfortable dysfunction and continue until the next time the tension of lovelessness was felt once again.
At age 34, I started attending Serge Benhayon’s presentations on the esoteric teachings as well as seeing Universal Medicine esoteric practitioners for healing sessions. What I felt here was something very different: for the first time, I felt the true essence of love.
This love that I was feeling:
- was not imposing and asked nothing from me
- came with no rules as it was just there
- was tenderness, gentleness, understanding and appreciation and yet wasn’t without responsibility or, at times, a firmness
- could be felt on a physical level even with just the touch of a fingertip
- didn’t need words for it to be expressed for it was ever present
- allowed a spaciousness for me to be myself.
Perhaps though, the one thing that I felt the most was that this love I was feeling and observing in another was not about me. It was emanating from inside those who had rediscovered love for themselves. I was simply feeling the loveliness of another and it became very clear that although I had not chosen love for myself, that it was there for me too… and that it had always been there for me too.
This was enough to inspire me to start to change my life in ways I never thought possible.
I always knew that love held the key to something very powerful and my lifelong search for this expression continued. This time however, my search was not a search for anything outside of me – not boyfriends, not money, not a career – it was simply to reignite that which was always there inside of myself, just waiting for me to first realise that the former path I had chosen would never lead me to the essence of love.
Whilst there may have been little true love in my life growing up and into my adulthood, I can’t dispute that I did know what love is.
For the act of knowing what love was not, meant that I was governed by an inner knowing of what love truly is.
I knew that I would know love when I felt it and this proved to be true, despite living a life that had sold me a reinterpreted version of the word.
We all know what is love, but many of us simply resort to something that is less – we resort to ‘attention’ or ‘lust’ or ‘companionship’ or ‘security’ – so that we don’t have to feel alone.
With the amazing support of Universal Medicine and the esoteric practitioners, I faced the task of rediscovering love for myself, starting first with becoming gentle and nurturing to the body in everything that I did. For example, when I dressed, I would consider the weather when I chose my clothes, the colour of the clothes I felt to wear that day, taking a jacket or wrap just in case, applying makeup and styling my hair to confirm my inner beauty, choosing suitable footwear for the day’s activities, taking food to nibble on in the event I felt hungry… and the list goes on.
Of course this level of nurturing always showed up the choices I had made which were not loving, but feeling the sadness of this was simply part of the process that redeveloped my understanding of love.
Nowadays, if I am ever unsure about whether I am caught up in an old belief about what I think love might be, I simply ask the question – “Is it love?” – and feel for the answer in my body.
By asking the question – “Is it love?” – I give myself the opportunity to look at the way I am living and feel whether it has the true quality of love. And what I am feeling more and more, is that when we don’t purposely choose love, we end up choosing by default another way of being which holds an emptiness, a misery, a sadness, and a lovelessness.
I realised that I do know what is love and what is not love and there is no need for a rulebook to make this clear. I was never going to find love from another; it was always my responsibility to bring it to myself through the loving choices I make for myself each and every day. And when any two people come together in friendship or courtship where each has developed love for themselves, there is nothing but pure beauty in the understanding, delicateness and harmony that love brings. And in this, I am finally able to use and understand the true meaning of the word love.
by Maree, New South Wales