The Power of Love
We talk about the power of love. It can be a challenge for us, though, to appreciate the practical, everyday power of love in our lives.
Sometimes it is easier for us to see how powerful hate can be. Hate often appears to be better equipped and better organized than love.
Love can seem to be warm and gooey, accompanied by lush strings and soft harmonies. We think love is emotional and romantic, maybe familial, and a little naive.
Love brings to mind balloons shaped like hearts and flowers and Valentine’s Day cards. Hatred reminds us more of weapons both personal and those of mass destruction.
It is easy for many of us to think people probably would not love us if they really knew us.
Love seems to be beyond our ability to understand or explain. We can grasp why some people might hate each other. Love often feels less comprehensible to us.
How powerful is love in our everyday lives? Do we really believe love can overcome hatred, or indifference, or fear? How well is love integrated in spiritual life?
What are we really celebrating on Valentine’s Day?
It can be easy for us to miss or ignore the power of love in everyday life. Hatred tends to get a lot more coverage. We pay more attention to the dramatic results and ramifications of hate.
Hatred can be shocking and immediate, while love often works in the long term.
Have we experienced love’s power in meaningful ways? What does the power of love look and feel like in our lives?
How can we share the powerful ways love shapes our lives when we do recognize them?
What does the power of love really mean to us?
Experiencing the Power of Love
When have you experienced the practical power of love?
My life has been, and continues to be, blessed with opportunities to experience powerful love. Knowing the joy and struggle of love may be the most inspiring thing ever.
We are fortunate when people in our lives demonstrate their love for us. They may show us the power of love through their words or actions.
It may be giving us their honest truth, whether we appreciate it at the time or not. They may help us experience the power of love through any of our senses. We may share a handshake, something with our favorite flavors or aromas, or a smile. They may express their love in words or in their stillness.
I am supremely grateful for people who show me the power of love.
We may also experience the power of love in solitude.
I recognize love as I reflect on where I have been. Walking along an ocean beach, in a forest, or in the mountains I am surrounded by love. Love is a central element of spiritual life and it fills me when I take time to listen.
There are also the ways we love ourselves.
I reflect on other people, the world around us, and the love within myself. The pieces fit together to teach us lessons about spiritual life and the power of love.
I appreciate the deeper truths about the everyday power of love when I take time to listen.
Love’s power is not a theoretical concept or a philosophical position. Love strengthens and sweetens the way we live each moment, each day.
Would we even want to continue our lives if we did not experience the power of love? Is life without love worth living, or even possible?
Sharing the Power of LoveThe loves of our lives come to us in many forms. They may be primarily emotional or intellectual, physical or economic.
When we experience the power of love we want to share it. Love shapes how we connect to other people, the rest of the world, and our deepest selves. Spiritual life, a relationship based in love, fills us and draws us closer.
Traditionally romantic expressions of love are too limited to do us much good. The love of spiritual life overflows in us, spreading out through us.
One of the most significant challenges for me is learning to love myself. As I become more able to love who I am there is more love within me for others.
My experience has been overcoming obstacles to treating myself in loving ways. Loving myself becomes more possible as I learn not to hold myself to unrealistic expectations.
As I realize I am not likely to be perfect, I find myself more lovable.
It is not loving, or fair, for me to hold other people, or nature, to a standard of perfection. How can it be loving to expect ourselves to be perfect?
My relationship to myself has taught me deep lessons about how love works. The power of love works within us to help us become better lovers.
Practicing the Power of Love
For me, practicing the power of love begins with loving myself. As I discover new possibilities in the way I love myself, I grow in how I am able to love others.
Nobody wants to be held to impossible standards. As I started to recognize what I was doing to myself I began to see how unloving I was being.
We learn to love by practicing over time. It is not loving to expect ourselves to do it well the first time we try. We explore, trying new patterns of behavior. When we make mistakes we discover new opportunities to grow and learn. Our new understanding takes us in new directions.
The power of love is building on itself as we practice. We are beginners, taking each new step forward.
Practicing the power of love shows us how to become better at loving. Love is not a vague theory or idea.
We practice the power of love every day.
Where will we discover the power of love today?
How will we practice the power of love this week?
[Image by renaissancechambara]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.