To be genuine and lasting, romantic love must be based on a more enduring foundation than mere physical attraction or fleshly gratification.
It must include an unselfish desire to protect and help and make someone else happy. It must also involve admiration for the other person’s finer qualities. A person can be in love with their partner’s mind, spirit, sentiments, and bearing—all of which have little or nothing to do with physical beauty. Real love is a spiritual thing; it’s not merely physical. It’s mostly manifested in spiritual and mental companionship and compatibility, the likes and dislikes and habits that the two people have in common.
When I was a young man, my mother once told me not to put the physical features first in my quest for a soul mate, but to seek something more in a woman than that. “Most of all,” she advised, “seek that indefinable thing called personality. Seek the liveliness of the spirit, the fascination of the mind, the irresistibility of the heart, the magnanimity of the soul.” The things of this earth can satisfy the body, but God has made us so that our spirit can only be satisfied by the things of the spirit.
God’s Word tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”1 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”2 “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”3 God didn’t say we wouldn’t or shouldn’t need or desire or enjoy the things of this life, but He admonishes us not to have an inordinate love for them to the point that we put these things before the even greater needs of our spirit.
If you put the desires of the flesh first, then you’ll find that nothing ever satisfies, not even the most total indulgence. Those who seek only to gratify their flesh will never find complete satisfaction and happiness. The things of this earth can satisfy the body, but only God and His true love can ever fill that aching spiritual void in the heart, because He created that place for Himself alone.
True happiness comes not in your personal pursuit of selfish pleasure and satisfaction, but in finding God and giving His love and life to others, and bringing them happiness. Then happiness will pursue and overtake and overwhelm you, personally, without you even seeking it for yourself.
I once knew a woman who was always seeking the man of her dreams but never finding a relationship that satisfied or lasted because she was always seeking to get love, to receive love, to be loved. When I suggested to her that perhaps she needed to learn to give love and to love unselfishly for the benefit of another, this struck her as an entirely new thought. It had never even occurred to her before! She went out and soon found what she had been looking for all the time—by finding a man she could make happy by giving him her love.
That’s the secret: Look for someone to make happy, and then happiness will find you! “He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”4 Those are God’s laws of the spirit and are just as definite as the laws of physics, such as the law of gravity. God’s laws of the spirit never fail. They always work for you or against you, depending on your actions and motives. And the first law is the law of love—unselfish love for Him and others. If you will obey that law and give the love that is His and others’ due, you will also receive love, “for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”5
Life, liberty, and the giving of happiness to others—these are things that only God can give and the only things that will ever satisfy your spirit. So if you want to be happy and make someone else truly happy, seek the satisfaction of the spirit that can be found only in God and His love!
Wine—even the finest—can’t be appreciated as long as it’s bottled up. Neither can love. Pop the cork. Put your love into words.
The most important words that any of us can learn to say are “I love you.” Don’t take it for granted that others know you love them. Tell them how special they are. Tell them how much you need them. Tell them how much you enjoy their company. Tell them how happy they make you.—And say it so often they can’t forget it.—Shannon Shayler