by Robert Abel
Energy and love are a lot alike. In fact, love is a form of spiritual energy that can be generated and received in mental, physical or emotional forms. Just like energy, love can come from many sources and can be used in many ways. For example, your car generates kinetic energy when it is moving. The headlights use electrical energy to produce radiant energy when they shine. A compressed spring stores energy, and there's even energy in your car's heated and air-conditioned air. Your car's energy can be used in positive ways like driving a friend to the airport, or in negative, destructive ways like crashing through a wall into someone's living room. Your car can even give energy to and receive energy from another vehicle, like when a truck pulls a trailer.
Energy can mean different things, depending on how it is used. Have you ever heard the expression, "I energy you!"? What does that mean? Who knows -- it could mean anything, just like the expression, "I love you!" What does it mean to you when someone says, "I love you"? What does this expression imply when you say it to your child? What about your relationship partner? Do you love your child the same way you love your spouse? What about people who say they love their cars? What does that mean? Are they referring to a feeling, a thought, an action or an energy? Like energy, love can mean different things to different people. So let's look at how love applies to your personal relationships and how you can use it in a healthy or unhealthy manner.
* The value of love:
Love is the most valuable commodity in the world. We all need love just like a fish needs water. Without love, life would not be worth living. With love in our lives we are empowered beyond belief. Without love in our lives we will shrivel up and die a slow, painful and lonely death. Love is the very essence and core of our being. It is the energy that sustains who and what we are. Everyone in life has a deep-rooted desire to love and be loved.
* The different forms of love:
Many times people only recognize love in its emotional form. We might hear people on television say things like, "I don't love you anymore," as they express their emotional feelings. But love is a lot more than what we feel. Love is a spiritual form of energy that can be given or received in physical, emotional or mental forms. Love usually starts in our thoughts, then spreads to the physical world through our actions, and then it will produce the emotional feelings. If you want to experience those powerful emotional feelings of love, it's necessary to think loving thoughts and produce some loving actions. If you think angry, vindictive thoughts, there is no way you will experience loving feelings or produce any loving actions. It's possible to be angry with our spouse and force ourselves to do something nice for them in our actions, like buying flowers. Pretty soon our minds kick in and after we see how happy our partner is upon receiving the gift, our emotions will follow. Love is a spiritual gift from God that starts mentally and finds its way to physical expression. But the emotional feelings we call love have very little to do with what love really is all about.
* Healthy and unhealthy forms of love:
Love is an energy that can be used in a positive, healthy manner or a negative, unhealthy manner. There is unconditional love, which is very accepting, supportive and forgiving. There is tough love, which is disciplined, authoritative and conforming. If your son were using drugs, you could unconditionally love him and accept his destructive behavior, hoping that he doesn't overdose and die, or you could use tough love and put him in a rehabilitation hospital in an attempt to save his life. Too much tough love can be unhealthy, just like too much unconditional love can be unhealthy.
* Authentic love:
God is our role model and divine teacher for authentic love. Sometimes God uses tough love when necessary and other times He uses unconditional love. He loves each of us exactly as we are. He also loves each of us enough not to leave us as we are today. God's love for us is designed for our well-being and spiritual growth. Authentic love promotes the good that is within that person. It protects, uplifts, reinforces and builds on the positive while minimizing and protecting from the negative. God is love and we are all called to love others in the same way God loves us.
* The three parts of love:
Relationship love consists of agape, a spiritual type of unconditional love; phileo, a brotherly type of friendship love; and eros, a romantic type of passionate love. Another way to view these three types is from the spiritual plane of agape, the physical plane of phileo and the emotional plane of eros. We experience these different types of love in different amounts and at different stages of our relationships. Many times in the beginning of our relationships we are drawn to our partner with a lot of eros (emotional love), and over time eros develops into a deeper form of phileo (brotherly love) and agape (spiritual love).
* False forms of love:
Love is not the infatuation stage or the sex act. Many times we feel a lot of powerful, passionate and positive emotions when we first start dating. This is called the infatuation stage, and it slowly fades in every new relationship. The infatuation stage is a calling to develop a deeper relationship with that person and to increase your ability for phileo and agape love. The infatuation stage is almost like a little carrot that God teases us with to let us know what is possible when we deepen our brotherly and unconditional forms of love. Some people think the infatuation stage should last forever. They go from one relationship to the next chasing those feelings, hoping once they find the right partner, they will experience the infatuation stage for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, that won't happen, because the infatuation stage affects our brain chemistry almost like a form of anxiety. Our bodies can't sustain that chemical condition for very long and eventually the high wears off and the honeymoon is over. If deeper forms of spiritual and brotherly love are not developed during this time, many people simply move on to another relationship. After a lifetime of chasing infatuation, it's possible to end up lonely and isolated. The same applies to the sex act, sometimes referred to as "making love." Sex binds two people in a very deep and intimate manner. But those close feelings after sex have very little to do with the agape and phileo forms of love.
* The acceptance of love:
Many times we give love to our partner the same way we would like to receive it. But loving a person this way might not be in their best interests. If our gift of love fails to promote the good in the other person, they might not like it and reject it. Other times we might expect to be loved by our partners in the same way we were loved as children by our parents. For example, if your parents made you feel loved by buying you things, you might associate loving actions only in the form of gifts, jewelry, clothes and expensive toys. Your partner could be the most loving, supportive, compassionate, understanding and caring person in the world and it's possible you could overlook their loving intentions if they didn't come from a store.