Written by Christine Shen

Illustrated by Jessie Lo

In this two-part series of coming to understand love, we follow writer Christine’s personal journey and experiences that lead her to a deeper and fuller understanding of true love. As Christine touches on some of the influences and messages of love from her youth, she shares how these ideals and expectations affected a personal romantic relationship of hers in the first part of this series.

Part I 

What is love? This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in all of history, to which the world affords a myriad of answers. With poets, lyricists, classicists, and even contemporary bloggers offering their own interpretations, what exactly are we to believe?

We have heard songs tell us that love is “a game for two,” “a battlefield,” that it can “touch us one time and last for a lifetime.” With such a scintillating assortment of responses, maybe we have all wondered, “When will it be my turn to experience true love?”

I don’t presume to have found “the answer,” but I would like to take you on a personal journey – one that has transformed and deepened my understanding of love.

Love is…being loved.

“Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” – Robert Frost

From a young age, my understanding of love was formed by a collection of Disney films, fairy tales, and romcoms. Two characters from different worlds come together and overcome all obstacles, determined to fight for each other until the end. As idealistic as it sounds, this was the kind of romance I wanted.

Until my mid-twenties, I had been waiting for a hero – a warrior who would sweep me off my feet, rescue me from my lonely tower, and slay dragons of insecurity. I wanted to meet someone who was willing to love and accept me as I am, unconditionally.

When I finally met him, my prince, I was thrilled to be on a new adventure. He showered me with affection and adoration, and I was soon won over by his acts of love and service. He made me feel truly special – like I was someone worth fighting for and waiting for.

As our relationship continued, I focused on how he loved me. I gauged, “Is he the one?” by how well he met my ideals. Whenever he succeeded in making me happy, I took that as confirmation that we were destined to be together. But, whenever he failed, I doubted if he was the one for me. Truthfully, I was in love with the idea of love and not the person beside me. 

Despite all my hopes, this romance proved ephemeral. When our “honeymoon period” ended, great disappointments and anxieties befell me. It seemed that the more I loved him, the less peace I felt. I sensed there was something wrong, but I ignored it, deflecting responsibility for my emotional well-being onto him (after all, it was his job to make me feel loved and secure!). And that was when God led me into the next phase of understanding love.

In the second part of this series on “What is Love” Christine will continue to share more about coming to understand love from her personal experiences. Realizing her own fears after a disappointed romantic relationship eventually leads her to a deeper understanding of and appreciation for God’s love.

(Adapted from RE:NEW Magazine, February 2016, Issue 5)

Presence Quotient®, also known as Presence, is a Christian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides tools and training to help individuals and families apply Christian and family values to their everyday lives. Copyright © Presence Quotient®. Should you be interested in posting this article online, please indicate Presence Quotient® and the author. If you wish to publish this article in print, please contact us at info@presencequotient.org.