Love that never changes
For those in a relationship, Valentine’s Day might feel exciting. To others, at best it’s just another day; at worst, it’s a reminder of what we feel is missing.
The latter is what I felt one year in college when a long-term relationship ended. So a friend and I decided to create an alternative Valentine’s Day. We baked treats and left them anonymously in friends’ dorm rooms.
We’d been inspired by an idea from our study of Christian Science about the quality of affection as “more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; . . .” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 250). This is shared within a paragraph about love that is not just sourced in divine goodness, but is the very nature of God. The paragraph begins: “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results.”
The key here is that the underlying motivation for the loving act is a desire to live from our real nature as God’s, divine Love’s, expression. Rather than being on a perpetual hunt for love, which can feel like a roller coaster at times, we are each the evidence of God as Love. We are divine Love in action. And we can exemplify this activity of divine Love in our relationships by treating ourselves and others with compassion and kindness.
Since “God is love,” as articulated in the book of First John in the Bible, looking for love means looking to more fully express God. As we understand ourselves to be the living expression of Love, we expand our capacity to feel complete and whole. And when we feel closer to God, we feel closer to others.
Looking for love means looking to more fully express God.
Mary Baker Eddy unpacked this idea further when she asked, as recorded by her longtime secretary: “Is God Love? Is Love infinite?” She explained, “If we personalize or have an object love[,] it becomes finite instead of divine & infinite & we lose the divine reflection[,] but if it is impersonal Love it opens up boundless resources whereby we can do good[,] good in every way” (Calvin A. Frye diary entry, 29 March 1896, EF071, © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection).
That doesn’t mean that expressing Love in this way feels impersonal to those we care about. Rather, infinite Love’s boundless resources enable us to be caring and attentive to the individual needs of others. One way to think of “impersonal Love” is as loving actions motivated by our inherent, God-reflecting care for all. This keeps us from getting overinvolved with one person or obsessing about someone. It helps us let go of unreasonable expectations attached to another person, of constantly thinking about someone or wondering where a relationship is going. Yet we don’t become unfeeling. In fact, being motivated by unself-conscious love is the deepest, most caring and honest way we can feel.
When love is reduced to pursuing a certain emotion, it can become dependent on others. But being “in love” is actually to live a loving life. As Love’s expression, we continually learn ways to love better and to care for others. We don’t have to chase it or strategize about how to get it. Right relationships and heart-to-heart connections show up and develop in our lives.
Moving beyond mere human affection to the deeper experience of lasting love is articulated in this week’s article “Hugs are great, but we can do more to help.” As nurturing and wonderful as connections with others can be, there’s a powerful healing aspect to the wholeness and fulfillment that results from having God as divine Love at the center of our lives.
To learn of God as Love is to learn of an affection that doesn’t possess or control, but liberates and empowers. A personal sense of connection can be turned on and off. But spiritual affection is constant and satisfying. It is always at hand because it comes from our oneness with ever-present Love. Our hearts are never truly satisfied by something outside of us that must be gained. We are fulfilled when our hearts find divine Love from within—the Love that is tenderly expressed and freely given.
Divine Love never changes. We are the evidence that Love is here, is constant, and remains forever.
Larissa Snorek, Associate Editor