what love to me is

November of last year, I sat in a public speaking club and listened to a speech entitled “If You Asked Me About Love…” It was heartwarming, romantic and tear jerking (but in a good way). The line that struck me most was “Love is holding someone gently yet protectively.”

I shared the speech to my friend and she asked me, “How about you? What would you say if you were asked about love?” I didn’t give her an answer. At that time, love was a fantasy to me. After my first heartbreak, I came to believe that love doesn’t go well with someone like me. I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t understand it.

Before hearing that speech, my friend and I were having a huge misunderstanding. There was too much push and pull. She wanted me to do something but I kept on refusing. She said that she was insisting on it because she loves me. At that time, I thought, “Her love is too demanding.” However, I came across a quote by the late Pope John Paul II – the first explanation about love I encountered on my goal in answering her question. He said, “Real love is demanding…Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.” That’s when I became appeased to the love she had for me.

I haven’t shared her this yet. I was only planning to do so once I gathered enough understanding of this whole thing about L.O.V.E.

The next explanation about love that made impact to me was from the book of 1 Corinthians. Now, this isn’t the usual line about love being patient and kind, which can be found at the beginning of the 13th chapter. The line that hit me hard in my pursuit of understanding love was written in 1 Corinthians 13:7, which says, “It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I was in elementary when I first read about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and I always thought that these definitions of love are too shallow. Too simple. I was hoping for a more flowery explanation about what love is that’s usually found in most novels. However, upon reflecting on it and relating it on the most intense love I knew which was from my friend, I knew that love being protective, trusting, hopeful and persevering is what love really is. It was close to my favorite line in the speech I heard.

Finally, the last explanation about love that made everything click was by C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.”

Love is not for the cold-hearted. You can’t love if you don’t want to feel it. Unfortunately, feeling it requires you to soften your heart and subjecting it to be hurt. If you love something or someone, you can always be hurt by the thing or person you love.

“Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Love it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”

I’ve put up tall and thick walls around me that hardened me and kept love away from me at all cost. I obsessed myself with Korean pop and made my world revolve around it. The only concept of love I only allowed myself to practice was my love for Korean idols. I kept my relationships shallow and casual, because I knew that having deeper connection to people will bring complications.

“But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

There was a time when my friend found it hard to come near to me. She said I had these walls around me that she couldn’t get past through. I felt bad and decided to let her in, thinking that I could still manage to be cold even with her. I could be open towards her while closed off towards others. How wrong I was. Letting her in and lowering my guard for her caused me too much emotional whiplash. Opening myself up to her means letting others see the real me too. Once you choose to be vulnerable to one person, you become vulnerable to everyone.

I kept my eyes open to every definition and explanation of love that is out there. There’s a lot of them. Someone said love’s mysteriousness and complexity are the reason why people obsess themselves with it. However, despite encountering more opinions about love, the three above are the ones that really hit me.