Love is…

What is love anyway? Let’s consult my tiny collection of Love Is gum wrappers:

A bunch of Love Is gum wrappers

At only 300 rubles a piece, these were easily the most affordable treat while I was in Voronezh in 1996, and they made a fun collection, too. I can’t find most of them (which I’d assembled into a book and given to my now-ex husband). But I did find these. So, according to our sweet little gum wrappers, Love Is…

  • keeping her lips busy.
  • keeping him/her always in your mind.
  • missing half of the film for the sake of finding his/her shoes.
  • being her caddy when she goes golfing.
  • loosing appetite.
  • phoning just to hear her voice.
  • cooking for yourself when she is away to give birth to the baby.
  • not being jealous when he/she spends time with the children.
  • not letting her down.
  • cooking him a dessert when you are on a diet.
  • dressing perfumes just before he comes home.
  • finding his has a high “kissability” factor.

Does that sound about right to you? I think we might be missing some ideas here. What is love to you?

Finding the one…

People say dating is hard work. I’ve got mixed feelings on the matter. Going out with good friends to do fun things, enjoy each other’s company, and have a fantastic evening? That isn’t hard at all, and it’s because I don’t have lofty expectations tied to those events.

Trying to find the right relationship? Now that can be rough.

I saw this one facebook today, and frankly I found it frustrating, both because I absolutely understand the sentiment and have experienced it much myself, and because I think it’s dead wrong:

 

The easy part of life is finding someone to love. The hard part is finding someone to love you back.

 

Love? Love is easy! It is easy to love others, and I daresay I’m lovable too. Lust? Sparkles? Fireworks? Butterflies? I honestly don’t think they are that hard to come by, either. I just don’t feel terribly comfortable trusting those feelings until I know the relationship is right for me.

Why do you love me?  My heart never gave me a choice.  I wish it had.

I am more than confident in my ability to -generate- sparks, though. I love sparks and I know how to let them fly! I just don’t believe in employing that particular skill set without an appropriate level of commitment. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but for now, that is what I am doing.

What is hard? Trying to identify “the one” and successfully being “the one” for that person. THAT is the challenge. THAT is where the minefield of heartbreaks lie. That is where the real work is required. What’s more: all that hard work doesn’t come an end at the wedding. Even in the best of marriages, these attributes of kindness, patience, respect, forgiveness, hard work, diligence, faithfulness, service, generosity etc… are ALL required to maintain a relationship that is worth having. All of these, when combined, have the potential to create the kind of everlasting love I want.

This quote is taken entirely out of context, but it stood out to me anyhow, so I shall share it. President Monson had a few comments before his talk at the First Presidency Christmas Fireside this year that stuck with me he. He was talking about his counselors, but I couldn’t help but compare his comment to my ongoing search:

I prayed mightily. There were many who could serve. All had ability. I knew some better than others. But I waited til the Lord told me in spirit who should serve by my side.

So I’m waiting, patiently, pressing forward as well as I know how, and hoping for the day the Lord will confirm to both of us that we are indeed the ones who should serve by each other’s sides.

The rest of the list:

I want a guy who is smart and can carry on an interesting conversation. I also prefer shyer guys who are easily thrilled by technology. I know, so shallow. It matters to me, though.

Attraction matters too, but not in the way that you might think. Sure, there are cute guys out there, but I am almost never attracted to someone until I know them really well, and then I start to notice features that are physically appealing. I don’t trust appearances or my psyche’s way of responding to them. As my friend Uri put it, “Romance doesn’t just happen, that’s infatuation. Real romance takes time.” I have learned to distrust infatuation, almost to the point that it makes me nervous. Almost to the point that I purposely avoid starting the “jungle engine” as another friend put it. I’m thankful for the friends I have gained this way, but I think it does disqualify me as a love interest in most cases. Here’s hoping someone out there will give me a very long, drawn-out chance someday 🙂 Or that I’ll find another way to deal.

As for the rest of this? I referenced the “after the manner of happiness” talk/scripture earlier. I think the list he’s got there is spot on. I want someone who will:

– Realize the importance of family
– Keep the commandments
– Live providently (even if it doesn’t involve raising animals)
– Love the scriptures
– Be prepared
– Enjoy work
– Take me to the temple often
– Serve!

Yeah, there are other things that would be cool to have in a relationship, but as far as I’m concerned, if I’ve got a guy who loves God, loves others, is smart, and meets this list, I will be happy. Now if I can find someone like that who is looking for someone like me… 🙂

Fairy Tale Endings

Originally posted as a comment on Facebook, I figured I’d save these thoughts here where I can find them again easily:

Perfect really is relative, it’s true, but I’m also thinking the perfect romantic relationship does not exist. I don’t think life’s set up that way. I sort of think you make your expectations and do your best, but ultimately, learning to love and be loved is in large part a matter of learning to forgive and be forgiven of imperfection.

But we still hope for our own personal fairy tale ending, right?

If you take out the Disney interpretations, it seem many fairy tales actually have fairly disturbing endings, not to mention plenty of evil step-parents, witches, and lonely old men. Only the luckiest live happily ever after… and even then, the stories tend to cut off just when the real story of the relationship begins.

But I think that a couple can certainly live “after the manner of happiness” regardless of how looks may fade, and regardless of how times might try. I believe romance can be created with some effort. I believe in a love that grows over time. And, I think Regina Spektor nailed it with these lyrics in The Calculation: here’s a couple who has a comfortable, happy friendship, but they’re each looking elsewhere for the spark. They didn’t even know love could be bigger than that, until:

“So we made the hard decision, and we each made an incision past our muscles and our bones: Saw our hearts were little stones. Pulled them out they weren’t beating, and we weren’t even bleeding as we lay them on the granite counter top. We beat ’em up. Against each other (…) We struck ’em so hard, so hard, until they sparked.”

Even the music in that song starts out a little quirky but ends beautifully. If you’ve got a great relationship, all the effort required to generate romance is well worth it. That’s the love I believe in.

Must have love toward his fellowmen

Alright, I’ve been meaning to write my second dating requirement. It’s simply this: He must love others, and show it by word and deed. I’d told one of my friends last night that I hope to find someone who doesn’t just SAY he loves others, but who actually shows it through service and attitude.Service is half of the equation, and it’s pretty easy to tell if you spend much time with a person whether they are service oriented or not. Knowing their heart regarding other people is another thing, though, and that takes time.

Luckily Dan from Single Dad Laughing seems to have written most of this article for me! 🙂 Normally I don’t agree with him on everything, and in fact find his style somewhat emotionally manipulative from time to time, but this article is spot on: I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

I consider myself Christian and I know a lot of my friends do, too. Regardless of whether another person is sinning or not, Christ was pretty clear that the greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbors. That we should love one another even as He loves us. We’re even supposed to love our enemies. This isn’t a matter of lip service and saying, “Well, because I love this person, I’m going to ostracize them, joke about their actions, or treat them as though they are somehow not worth as much as me. And, through these loving actions, show them that I love them for who they have the potential to become, but not as they are.” That isn’t how it works.

Some people will argue that we’re commanded to judge righteously. I’ve thought about that a lot, and it comes down to the relationship we have with our Father. Let’s say I give my kids a commandment of sorts. “Clean the living room before I finish making dinner,” or “Do not peel the paint off the bathroom wall.” I am a mortal momma, imperfectly human, and chances are I’m not always going to catch my kids disobeying. So let’s say one of them catches the other. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, mom said don’t peel the paint off the wall.” It’s quite another to hit them, belittle them, or hate them. Would I want my kids hating each other over something I asked them to do? Even if I didn’t actually see the offense take place?

If the Lord sees every last sin we commit, wouldn’t you suppose he’s more concerned with us policing ourselves than, say, trying to pull that mote out of our brother’s eye? Wasn’t Christ pretty clear about that whole, “Love one another” thing? Some would argue that one sin is bigger sin than, say, letting our judgement of others get in the way of our loving them. I’ve never seen any doctrinal support in the scriptures or through prophets that says anything of the sort.

Is it OK to hate people who smoke, or people who are poor, or crazy, or homeless, or fat, or ugly, or beautiful, or smart, or stupid, or anything else for that matter? Is it even okay to hate that guy who cut you off in traffic? Does Christ ask us to love unless we’ve somehow been provoked or offended?

C.S. Lewis alluded in Mere Christianity to the figurative rats in the basement of our souls. You can’t say they’re only there when you suddenly turn the light on, and that otherwise they don’t exist, because they’re able to stay hidden. Concealing your feelings isn’t going to cut it here. To fail to love others is a failure to keep the second greatest commandment. So I hope we can examine our hearts, our thoughts, our words, and especially our deeds. If you as a Christian find yourself lacking in the kind of love Christ has demonstrated for you, might I recommend asking the Lord to help you do better?

I’m not looking for someone perfect, because I am not perfect, either. But I am looking for someone who loves God and his neighbor enough to try, and enough to humbly seek the Lord’s help in becoming better.

The best first date idea ever

One guy I know has a really great methodology for first dates: invite her to do something you really enjoy. If you’re into music, for example, ask if she’d like to go to a concert. If you love sushi, ask her out for that. If you get a kick out of looking at bizzarre artwork, or poking through antique shops, or going on hikes, or making French Toast and watching Saturday morning cartoons, or photographing different species of wildflowers, go for it. The idea is that instead of doing something cliché, you’re finding out how well you’d actually get along in the long run. And hey, you’ll actually be more like yourself if you’re having fun. If she has fun, too, then you’ll have someone cool to spend time with.

Granted, If you’re asking out the most hearthrobbingly beautiful creature you’ve ever seen and though you suppose you’re impossibly incompatible, you your life won’t be complete unless you give it a shot, maybe you’ll wanna stick with a typical first date like mini golf or dinner and a movie. But no one can pretend to be “normal” for the rest of their lives. And even if you’re not thinking in terms of the rest of your life, the point of dating is to have fun and get to know each other. How can you get to know each other when you’re pretending to be someone else?

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