The substance of Love

A Christian Science perspective: How can we express affection in more enduring ways?

At the beginning of summer, the city of Paris removed nearly a million “love locks” – usually copper padlocks with inscriptions of love – that couples had latched onto its Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge, and took steps to deter future locks from being hung. The collective weight of the locks had become so great that the bridge was becoming damaged – in fact, part of it actually collapsed last year.

I can certainly see the romance in latching a “love lock” and throwing the key into la belle Seine. But as the Monitor pointed out, Paris’s efforts to deter the love lock tradition may encourage couples to “express their devotion in more enduring ways” (“Paris helps unlock true love,”

In thinking of “enduring” devotion, my thought naturally turns to the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and the Monitor. These works reveal a deep, spiritual sense of love and affection, whose expression isn’t reduced to the use of physical symbols.

For instance, Christ Jesus demonstrated pure, limitless love throughout his entire compassionate and selfless ministry. The poor, the sick, the sinning, even his crucifiers (see Luke 23:34) – no one was excluded from his lovingkindness.

This profound love wasn’t based in human personality. It was deeply spiritual, emanating from God, divine Love itself. In First John, we read, “God is love” (4:8). We also learn in the Bible that God made us in His own image. Since we are, spiritually, the very likeness of God – infinite, divine Love – we are wholly enveloped in inexhaustible, spiritual love. This love is eternal because it flows from its source, God. It permeates our very identity, and it is ours to express because we are divine Love’s expression.

One time, I really wanted to get my husband a gift that would show him how much I loved him. I was searching and searching, but I just couldn’t seem to come up with something that felt right to me. It had gotten me so frustrated that one evening I found myself snapping at my husband for no fault of his!

The obvious irony of that situation helped me realize that I was looking in the wrong direction for expressing love. Right then and there, I decided to stop focusing on finding a “perfect” gift, and instead considered this statement from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mrs. Eddy: “The substance of all devotion is the reflection and demonstration of divine Love ...” (p. 241).

I saw that the true substance of affection was not material; it was in the “reflection and demonstration of divine Love.” I had become so consumed with finding some adequate physical expression of love that it had supplanted in my thought qualities of divine Love, such as patience and tenderness. But I also realized that because divine Love is infinite, it is natural for all of us, as God’s reflection, to express those qualities without limit; and that the more we turn our thought toward God, letting His love fill our consciousness, the more we find ourselves demonstrating that love.

As I considered all this, I felt such a sense of being wrapped in love and peacefulness that the stress about properly expressing love vanished – an experience that has stuck with me in the time since, blessing other relationships, too. And as it turned out, shortly thereafter an idea came for me to plan an event for him, and he absolutely loved it.

Recognizing God as the true source of love brings a deeper, more substantial sense of love and its expression to our relationships – whether with a dearly loved spouse, family member, or friend. We can all apply this in our own experience, because we reflect divine Love without measure.

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