I’m learning that love is so much more than what our culture has made it out to be. It’s not limited to the kind of romantic infatuation that’s fleeting. This is lower-case love. It’s the kind written about in sonnets and romantic comedies. It makes for good media but is only a tiny ripple in the infinite ocean of what Love truly is.
When we get stuck in the lower-case love, we get tunnel vision and focus on… us. The ego starts having a field day. It’s all about who’s recently screwed us over, how they don’t adore us anymore, why we should hold back our enthusiasm in this certain area, etc.
Then we have our evolved brains working against us in the fact that they’re designed to focus on danger and fear while repelling the positive. We find that even good people feel more in home in hate than they do in love.
Love is a deliberate, conscious choice that we must repeat over and over until those ‘love muscles’ start to grow (I’ve been using the weightlifting analogy a lot these last few days — must be the new year).
Love is an intentional effort that pulls the heart-space open wide. It’s daily work against the fear-on-autopilot tendencies of the ego. It rails against the louder voices in our culture that tell us to judge others, lock our doors, alienate those people, and be on the defense.
If you don’t have some spiritual practice that has kept your heart open in hell, I know you’re going to be a grumpy old man or a hateful old woman. By the last third of life, negativity is all you have left.
— Richard Rohr
If we don’t live intentionally open-hearted lives, our minds will follow the grooves that society has dug for us and resort to a place that resembles hell.
[Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people transform their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way. To subscribe via email to his updates and exclusive content, click here.]