Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
The first of these two articles describes three situations and family relationships. I had recently been told, “People can love someone and still do horrible things to them.” Perhaps it’s my black and white way of thinking that will not allow me to accept this idea.
Why it stumps me doesn’t matter anymore; I just have to flat-out disagree. Love is an action, not a feeling. Sweet, warm and fuzzy feelings in and of themselves are not love.
Watching that pretty girl walk down the street and thinking, she’s hot. I think I love her! is not love. It may feel powerful and be confused with love. Follow-up behavior determines what is love.
Unless the would-be lover devotes himself to her wellbeing, it is not love. If he cannot back-off when she asks him to, it is not love. If the idea of committment and remaining faithful to her through chronic illness, childbirth, death in the family, mental illness, or loss of youth or beauty turns him off – it is not love.
Love hopes all things and endures all things. Of course, when we love someone who loves us back, it feels awesome. These warm and happy emotions are not necessarily true love.
Here’s a test: When wonder and joy slack off a bit, do we choose to behave lovingly anyway? Are our hearts still devoted to their wellbeing?
Do we call it love when we lose our identity, emotional or physical health, or our safety for someone who refuses to be kind? Love never fails. Never. However, we cannot love with perfection. While we may generally love someone very much, that moment we cause pain due to selfishness, we are not acting in love. If I take advantage of you, insult you, or hurt your feelings on purpose, I am being a jerk. I am not loving you.
If you have expressed your dislike for how I treat you and I do not change my behavior, I am not loving you. Love does not insist on its right to be abusive. Regardless of any excuses, it is true love’s job to stop it. Immediately. Every time.
Love is humble. It admits when we blow our opportunity to be kind. It apologizes. It does not mindlessly repeat the same hurtful behavior. It focuses on the wellbeing of the person we claim to love.
No, no one can love a person and do horrible things to them. Abusers claim they do. They are flat-out wrong.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.