What Is Love? Baby Please See Me

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Lots has been written about love – what it is, where it comes from, how one can know when they have it or are in it. If you google quotes about love, you’ll be inundated with everything from I Corinthians 13 to that well-known but asinine quote from Love Story, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  It has been called a feeling, a verb, a choice, and a destiny.

However, I think most of the definitions of love focus on either the warm fuzzy aspects of it or the formulaic, do this to achieve that aspects of it.  I talked some about the latter in my last blog post.  I am still crawling my way through Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection,” and I have to say that her linkage of love and belonging made more sense to me than any definition I have read thus far.  Because she doesn’t break it down into a checklist (because we are not algebra), and she doesn’t make it all warm and fuzzy and guaranteed either (because we are not a novel).  Some of her words are quoted below”

Taken from The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown”

  1. Love and belonging will always be uncertain.

Even though connection and relationship are the most critical components of life, we simply cannot accurately measure them. Relational concepts don’t translate into bubbled answer sheets. Relationship and connection happen in an indefinable space between people, a space that will never be fully known or understood by us. Everyone who risks explaining and belonging is hopefully doing the best they can to answer an unanswerable question.  Myself included.

  1. Love belongs with belonging.

One of the most surprising things that unfolded in my research is the pairing of certain terms. I can’t separate the concepts of love and belonging because when people spoke of one, they always talked about the other…When emotions or experiences are so tightly woven together in people’s stories that they don’t speak of one without the other, it’s not an accidental entanglement; it’s an intentional knot. Love belongs with belonging.

  1. A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children.

We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.  When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick. There are certainly other causes of illness, numbing, and hurt, but the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Belonging is the innate human desire to be a part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present out authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

I am very imperfect.  Very.  Which is probably why this book appeals to me.  It is also probably why I am just now really reading it even though it has been on my kindle for several years.  And while it is a wonderful thing to be loved in spite of one’s imperfections….

I don’t want to be “loved anyway.”  I don’t want loving me to be some kind of honorable sacrifice.  I want to be loved because I am lovable, worthy, good.  Because today, right now, at this point in my journey, being loved any other way may be love…but it is not belonging.  And I agree with Brene Brown – love and belonging are inextricably linked.

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