Nothing like Shakespeare's 116th sonnet to help us on the subject.
I quote it in full. Forgive me if you aren't used to these 14-liners from the Bard.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Yes, this is Elizabethan (a.b.a.b.) and not Italian. That's for my trivia friends. OK, so what is love according to Shakespeare? We know first that it's not love if it changes when change happens. Or is dismissed when others take it away. It is fixed. It is locked in. The marriage vow says, "in sickness and in health" and means that no matter what your partner experiences, or doesn't experience in your relationship, you are going to stick it out.
Tempests blow and yet love stays the course. When ships are tossed in those tempests and the guiding principle (star) is not so easily found on the horizon or in the sky, yet it remains, to guide when we do finally engage it. We don't know much about the worth of the stars, but they are there, pointing us on the way.
Change-- nope. Not a characteristic of real love. And if anyone calls me on this, then real love never existed. Wow, what hubris! Or what correctness?
I walked by Bondi Beach with my friend Kameel the other day. The graffiti wall was painted anew, with fine new works still fresh from their creators. And I found this one. And really liked it.
Maybe you will like it also. The colors are bold in person; the message distinct. The focus for me was on the middle of the word, 'Love." What do you see?
I see a cross. Why? The Bible says, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3.16) That's the greatest love of all. John said elsewhere, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4.10).
The cross is the location of the death of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua. He gave His life for us that we might experience His love and life.
The greatest gift. From the Greatest Giver.
Photo credit: By the author. From Bondi Beach. Original is here