My mother, Maureen Lewis, recently asked me to define love and, considering I run the Choose Love Movement and teach people how to choose love literally, I thought I might delve into this question. I told her I often referred to love when I was speaking as ‘connection and belonging.’ She responded, via text of course, with this:
Photo credit: Halle Hewitt for StoryCorps
“Defining love is a challenge – but I think you’re right, maybe Donna’s (her grandmother) favorite Bible verse – the beatitudes? The Beatitudes, found in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3-12), are a set of teachings by Jesus Christ that describe the characteristics and blessings of those who follow Him.) It’s an emotional and physical feeling, right? I mean when you’re happy and loved and loving you feel physically fantastic. When you’ve been rejected, betrayed, “exchanged,” deserted, or when someone dies and is gone from your life in that way, you feel miserable, heart-broken, lost, bereft, alone, lonely, like you’re dying, so maybe the definition of love is the opposite of these words/feelings: complete, alive, joined, found, recognized, appreciated, connected, fulfilled, safe, hopeful, complete.”
Then she followed that up with the Christian Bible’s definition in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13: verse 4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
‘Love never ends’ is carved onto a granite bench that sits facing Jesse’s grave where I often go to sit and reflect.
We can look at other major religions as well.
In Islam, the love for Allah (God) is considered the highest form of love, emphasizing devotion, reverence, and obedience. Love for fellow human beings is encouraged, encompassing kindness, compassion, and empathy. Islamic teachings highlight the importance of love for the sake of Allah and the responsibility to treat others with fairness, justice, and mercy.
Buddhism emphasizes the concept of love in the form of compassion and loving-kindness. Love is regarded as an attitude of genuine care, warmth, and goodwill toward all beings. Buddhist teachings stress the cultivation of love and compassion as means to alleviate suffering, develop inner peace, and foster harmonious relationships.
In Hinduism love is often expressed through devotion toward the divine. It invokes a deep sense of reverence, surrender, and worship. Love is seen as a unifying force that connects individuals with the divine and with all of creation. Hindu scriptures also emphasize the importance of love and respect within family relationships and society.
Judaism emphasizes the commandment to love God and one’s neighbor. Love is considered a foundational value in building relationships and communities. It involves acts of kindness, justice, and care for others. Love in Judaism is connected to the concept of covenant, emphasizing a reciprocal relationship between ‘God and humanity.
Love varies among different traditions, sects, and individuals. There are diverse perspectives on love that highlight its significance in fostering spiritual growth, ethical behavior, and harmonious existence.
Love is a human centric quality that unites and is rooted in our innate capacity for empathy, connection, and care. Love transcends religion as it is the foundation upon which humanity is built. It is a guiding principle for ethical behavior and promoting the well-being of individuals and communities. Love is a motivating force for acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion towards others. Love is a profoundly human experience, encompassing deep emotional connections, care for others, and a commitment to fostering positive relationships and well-being. It is a concept that holds immense value and significance in the context of human lives and relationships, regardless of religious beliefs.
Essential elements that lead us to love include gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action. And we know without love, we suffer.
Love is a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others. It can bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose to our lives.
Love is not just an emotion, but can also be seen as a choice, an action, and a commitment to nurturing and sustaining relationships. It has the capacity to heal wounds, bridge differences, and inspire acts of kindness and compassion . Love holds the potential to create deep connections, foster understanding, and promote a sense of belonging. It is a fundamental aspect of our shared humanity and a source of immense joy, meaning and fulfillment in our lives.
Nurturing Healing Love (Norturing Helinn Love, Jesse Lewis) has the ability to heal our individual lives, communities and world. What individuals across the globe have found amazing is that we can choose love for ourselves as well as those around us. Learn how at www.ChooseLoveMovement.org.
Scarlett’s chapter, “Healing Love,” shares the story of how she lost her son in a horrific tragedy and was able to overcome the pain and anger and experience healing through forgiveness.
In this New York-Times bestseller, Scarlett tells her story of how she created a worldwide Movement to Choose Love and encourages everyone to be kind, to be grateful, to forgive, and to uncover the courage we all have within us.
This powerful best-selling book recounts the captivating life story of Yannick Kabuguza, a Choose Love Ambassador, who endured great pain and tragedy as a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.
Lavin focuses on the indomitable human spirit and how Yannick forgave those responsible for his disfigurement and the death of his family members and healed himself through gratitude and compassion. The book includes how Lavin established a deep connection with Scarlett and the Choose Love Movement.
This book helps readers move from their own “dark night of the soul” and into a brighter future. This book plots the path of healing and flourishing in six words: Why bother? Lament. Hope. Lead. Persevere. Jordan shares wit and wisdom gathered from both her own life as an innovation expert to the teachings of great leaders in such diverse locations as Scarlett Lewis in Sandy Hook, Connecticut to the war zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These leaders were ordinary people until life pushed them to its edge. In their darkest moments, they reached for the further shore.
This book features a wide selection of stories and insights into Scarlett’s story is featured in Chapter VI, Renew the Face of the Earth: A Call to Love. The stories in this book offer readers a book of wisdom to inspire during hard times and guide them in finding the light in any crisis.
Alex Woodard weaves his own journey through true stories, including Scarlett’s experience of losing Jesse, as he travels from the congested confines of Southern California to the wide open wild skies of Southern Idaho.
Scarlett’s letter to Jesse is included along with songs she and Alex wrote together about the letter.
In the chapter, Jesse in the Sky, Scarlett shares her story of losing her son in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Scarlett’s story is one of 101 true stories of amazing coincidences, answered prayers, awesome charity, and love that show miracles and good happen every day, giving hope whenever people need it most. This is a book of stories about powerful hope, wondrous connections, divine intervention, and answered prayers.
Scarlett’s story is one of 101 miraculous stories featured in this book that shares real people’s stories about their incredible, personal angel experiences of faith, divine intervention, and answered prayers.
The stories reflect on hope, healing, and help from angels.
Dana Liesegang’s riveting memoir details how she was sexually assaulted at age 19, thrown off a cliff and left for dead, and was paralyzed. That didn’t stop her from forgiving her attacker. Dana harnessed her inner resilience to survive and overcome and the power of forgiveness to set her free. In Chapter 21, Forgiveness, Dana shares how Scarlett inspired her to let go of her painful burden by forgiving her attacker and setting forth on a path to healing.
This book captures the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and views of four men. Men from different backgrounds and circumstances who find themselves connected through their stories; their lives within the prison system. This book is a collective display of their artistry; the canvas for their voices, both separate and united, on their pasts, present and futures. It amplifies and sheds light on the encumbrance their sentences bear on their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and the world around us.