senior couple in love

Have You Figured Out Why We Love? 

In the last three of my blogs, I invited my readers to explore some of the ways we can appreciate love, including the five love languages proposed by Chapman and Cambell.

In this blog I will invite you to consider some very basic and important questions:

  • Why do we love in the first place?
  • What does research say that motivates people to love?
  • What are some of the messages about the origins of love that can be eye opening, and I know for me, very comforting?

Let’s start with some of the research and strong statements by experts.

In his compelling book Love and Survival, author and medical doctor famous for his diets that have been shown to reverse heart disease, Dean Ornish describes – in great detail through studies, stories and examples of the profound connection between love and physical health. He describes study after study that shows that there is a powerful connection between how much love and intimacy a person is experiencing and how well they can recover from disease.

Some powerful quotes from his book:

“…perhaps the most powerful intervention – and the most meaningful for me and for most of the people with whom I work, including staff and patients—is the healing power of love and intimacy, and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these. [p. 2]

“Love and intimacy are at a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what cause sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing.” [p. 3]

“Loneliness and isolation affect our health in several ways:  They increase the likelihood of diseases and premature death from all causes by 200 to 500 percent or more, independent of behaviors, through different mechanisms, many of which are not fully understood.” [p. 13]

“In short, anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering. Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy, connection and community is healing. [p. 14]

Dr. Bruce Perry says: “The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.”

For me, my main source of information which also serves as reassurance, is the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is what the Jewish community uses to guide their faith. Christians embrace the information contained in both the old and new Testaments.

Google shares that the word “love” appears 310 times in the King James Version of the Bible, 551 times in the New International version and 686 times in the New Living Translation.

Some quotes from the Old Testament about love:

  • Leviticus 19:18: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Psalm 136:1-26   Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 
  • Deuteronomy 7:9  Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

 Some quotes from the New Testament:

  • John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 
  • 1 John 4:8“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 
  • 1 John 4:16“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 
  • 1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 

Other religions also provide strong messages valuing the power and importance of love:

  • In the Muslim faith, which has 1.9 billion members worldwide and is the second largest religious group after Christianity, provides the teachings of Mohammed as found in the Koran where the term “love” is used 69 times.
  • In Buddhism, the world’s fourth largest religion with over 520 million followers, Buddha states: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

The subject of love and the various admonitions contained in the holy books for the most prominent religions worldwide clearly embrace the importance and power of God’s love and His directives that we are to share that love with others. I have found that can be inspirational to take a journey to figure out why we love. For me, it comes down to what Paul says in 1 John 4:19: “We love because He first loved us.”

Invitation for Reflection

  1. To what extent have you figured out why you and others seek opportunities to love?  Consider your journey and what you learned along the way.
  2. If you have not spent time considering why you or others seek opportunities to love, what steps can you now take to become clearer?  How do you think gaining that clarity might impact you?