06 septiembre 2010

love! eros! words!

***i generally try to stay away from addressing romance. "write what you know," i tend to believe. but a while back i was trying to think rationally and righteously on the whole issue, and since i think by writing, i have record of my contemplations... i thought now might be an appropriate time to share. as can be expected from the likes of me, it's pretty theoretical. i welcome experienced voices to respond.***

terms used below: definitions patched from hither and yon

hate to abuse words and all... please forgive if i do.

love: wanting good for another, even at cost to yourself
agape: same as above
eros: being "in love", pleased to pieces that another person exists, crazy about them, having your heart go pitter-patter when they're around, attraction, delight, desire for another to be yours
phileo: what one feels for a brother from a different mother, companionship, enjoyment of company, like-mindedness, affection, eros (appreciation of their existence) without the hormones and possessiveness

thought one: love

"But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection..."

Q: how is "love" distinct and more important than kindness, long suffering, tender mercies?
A: because those can have an impersonal element. we can be kind, tender, patient with strangers.

but love is when our well-being is tied up with another's well-being. their good is my good... their freedom, their abundance, their joy and happiness and peace satisfies me.

"you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together."
"And we live- if you remain steadfast"
"for what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy...'

and the more we truly love someone, the more we are willing to do, to give, to effort, to give up... that they may be full. our sacrifice is not as important to us as their good.

THAT is love.

our justification in being impatient and unkind not as strong as our decision and desire that they receive patience and kindness.

our temptation to vanity or to boast not as overwhelming as our desire to shield them from our pride. our tendency to puff up not as automatic as our attention to them. our habit of rudeness not as strong as our hunger to protect them from unkindness and pain. our instinct to seek our own not as possessing as our relief in seeing their good. [think: a mother] our automatic irritation not more necessary than our obligation to show them patience.

...our desires not realer than our purity... and our hunger for their own.

(we have Christ. we are not mere mortals.)

we want their good too much to accept their sin. it does not amuse or benefit us. we are too happy in their light to infect them with darkness. we put up with them, because who they are is worth bearing a bit of their... junk. we believe in them, because we see their soul, and it is beautiful. we hope for them, because we are full if they are. we endure for them, because they vale la pena.

we cannot, will not, do not stop... regardless of anything... because, ontologically, this love is not the stopping kind.

thought three: eros!

philo/eros, per my definition, is delight/ pleasure IN them. just them (forgive my pronoun abuse) gives us satisfaction. beautiful! wonderful! exhilarating!

not bad, this eros! a gift from God! one of His really, really, really good ideas!


not the same as agape.

which they (phileo/ eros, here grouped) don't have to be. they are something else. gifts.

but agape is not a gift; it is an obligation. a part of the package deal of being filled with the life of God. or better put, agape is a gift. but not one that can end with you. the privilege of God's love entails certain responsibilities.

and here is the hard part, the bitter pill, the grit-your-teeth-and-do-the-miserable-right-thing aspect to eros...

it can be opposite of love.

if my delight in being with a person ends up causing them harm or sadness instead of good, i am operating in eros to the exclusion of agape.

"What?!" I tell myself. "Don't be so fanatical. So conservative. So Elisabeth Elliot-y. This is harmless. Nice. Lovely. Sweet. Enjoyable." But is it a sustainable joy? Is it a bliss you can back up with committment? Are the emotions you're evoking (in another!) promises you can keep? Are the feelings you're producing (in another!) free to bear fruit?

because we don't live in an eternal now. we live with the future chasing us daily. we can sing loudly and try to pretend that the future is not as real as now, but the future will catch up, in all its glorious, hideous reality. we have to learn to see the end from the beginning, or we will be habitually filled with regret, in a few months, a few years, on our death bed... let alone on the day of judgment.

when my pleasure in someone- my happiness in being with them- is also a gift to them (good and perfect, from above, without darkness or shadow of turning), then eros has meshed with agape and what God has joined let no man put asunder. this shall be stronger than death.

but, if my enjoyment of them leads to unredemptive pain for them, how is that loving them? if i take pleasure in what will bring them harm, is that not malice?

maybe we can limit ourselves to phileo. let us all take a big sigh of relief and enjoy the gift. yea for brotherly love. but if i barely know my own heart, how can i guess at another's? is platonic love sustainable? hard to know contingency, action/reaction, cause and effect before it happens, me lacking omniscience and all. which means God has to be around here somewhere, or i crash and burn, taking another down with me.

Lord God. Thank You for every good and perfect gift, but restrain this flesh of mine from messing it all up. You be with and love the company of the one who can only benefit from more of You. You bring no sadness. Let me be like You.

thought three: ugh. (honestly)
but how exhausting is agape! how much attention! and will! and energy doth it require! and... misery that seems inherent to it! how terribly impossible to live like that...

...unless God really is true and we are no more mere men, but humans living by the life of God.

if the very existence and continued salvation of our soul requires miracles from the hand of God, (and by "miracle", i mean God changing what would happen by natural cause/effect and chance) then loving others is not beyond reason. and if our mere existence, prolonged throughout eternity, has costed God so much, wouldn't it make sense that others should cost us a little, too?

children, i think, are "easier" to love. they require more, but it is more "natural" to love them because of our perspective of them. we see easier how needy they are. maybe not always easy to do whatever self-sacrificing thing they need us to do, but easier to know and feel it should be done. well, easier than loving grown ups, anyways. still talking shades of impossible...

God is love. The love of God was present in His creation of every single human being. He never created a soul without love for it present. In fact, as i once heard it put, "He created us to love us."

Pray with confidence...
and be very careful how you treat His humans.

que ninguno agravie ni engañe en nada a su hermano; porque el Señor es vengador de todo esto, como ya os hemos dicho y testificado.