When you listen to music on the radio, it doesn't take long to realize everybody loves love. Most songs define love as something someone else gives you. Some songs tell how great it is to be loved; almost as many tell how painful it is when we long for love and none seems to be coming our way.
Do you wonder if waiting around for someone else's love is your only option?
Love is desirable. That's nothing new. The Bible contains numerous references to love throughout its pages. Some of the most notable of these are found in chapters that discuss the life of Christ Jesus. Love is at the very center of Christian teaching.
Once an expert in Jewish law asked Jesus, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus answered by telling him two things. It is interesting that both talk about love. He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 22:36-39).
Jesus said we should love. But he didn't say we must first be loved by other people. And Jesus' entire life was devoted to loving God and loving his neighbor. He taught that loving is the whole of living. His words encourage compassion, respect, and unity among all people. He was willing to love even when he knew that his persistent love of others would endanger his own life.
An experience I had proved to me that following this teaching - to love - brings true satisfaction.
I had lived in a different city from my parents for many years. During this time I had kept in good contact with them and made frequent visits. A few years ago, however, I noticed the amount of contact we were having was really dwindling. For some time I had been feeling my parents were not responding to my love. I'd even wondered whether it was worth continuing to be in contact with them. I once invited them to come for a visit, only to discover they had already planned to be in my city for another reason a few days earlier. But they weren't planning to visit my family.
Hurt, hoping to find a way to get on with my own life and feel at peace, I talked with a friend. He seemed to easily grasp the way I felt about the situation. Yet he pointed out that it didn't really matter if my parents responded to my love as much as it mattered that I continue to love them.
I read something Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, once wrote: "Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it" ("Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 57). Thinking about this statement helped me to perceive the benefits of reflecting the love of God in our thoughts and actions, even when there is no response from others.
A small experience I had at the grocery store showed me how true this is. I was having a hard day. At the checkout counter I found the cashier was, too. Feeling compassion for her situation, I spoke a few kind words. I don't remember exactly what I said. It did not really seem that significant at the time - until I saw the change in her expression. The overwrought, tired look on her face suddenly changed to a peace-filled, joyous smile. As I left, I felt the stress of my own bad day just lift off. I felt love because I had loved.
I resolved I would continue to love my parents and maintain contact with them, just as I always had. Soon some surprising things started to happen. New opportunities opened up for visits with them. They offered to care for the children. My dad commented several times on how grateful he was to be having more time with my family. This was the beginning of a much closer relationship that has continued to grow.
The wonderful thing about the real love that Jesus expressed - the love that has its source in God - is that you don't need to wait for someone else to do something in order to feel it. If you have a desire for more love in your life, you can have it. Right now. All you need to do is love.
You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.