True Love at Christmas: Even When You Are Single


winterwoman

As I’ve said before, and as almost every unmarried person knows, the most difficult time of year to be single is during the holidays. But I’d like to bring up the idea that love is much more deep, vast and full; and the holidays are the perfect time to explore that idea.

Judging from the media, one would think that no other type of love exists, or matters, besides romantic love. We are inundated with the idea that not having a loved one at holiday time is a fate worse than, well, anything else.

The way the media pushes this idea is reprehensible. Think about it: would you ever see “10 Ways to Make Your Grandma Smile” on the cover of Cosmo or Maxim? The possibility of it is so absurd that one would think the magazine editors had lost their minds. 

It’s disheartening for the unmarried, to say the least. It’s inescapable. And quite frankly, it’s unfair, myopic, narrow minded and just plain cruel. What kind of culture values romantic love over all others? The truth is, it’s such a small part of our lives, there’s no need to elevate its importance. It’s absurd.  

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes the four types of love: storge, philia, agape, and eros.

Storge is a love for those who are familiar to us. We may love our family, neighbors, friends and co-workers simply because we are around them so much. This type, according to Lewis, is the most natural to us. We are predisposed to it because it is given without coercion or reciprocation. This is the kind of love that can sustain us in our daily life, particularly if we are unattached romantically.

Philia it is perhaps the least complicated because it is freely chosen and given. Those we call our friends are deeply loved and cherished, and without philia our lives would indeed be very empty.

Agape is the love of humanity “regardless of circumstance.” Not only does it encapsulate the love God has for us, but the love that Christians have towards others. It is at the heart of charity, generosity, thoughtfulness and also sacrifice. Sacrificial love is what defines us as Christians, and as such. Lewis finds this type the most vital. Sacrificial love leads to the greatest achievements that we as a people have created. Agape gave us Mother Teresa and freed Nelson Mandela, founded Caritas Internationalis, built hospitals, museums and schools, and of course, the Catholic Church.

The final type is eros which is romantic love. We all know what it’s all about, if only from the relentless assault praising it from the media. But in the face of Lewis’ love types, how can we possibly say this type exceeds a love for humanity, or our friends? Why would having someone to go out with be more important than sacrificial love, particularly as described in the Life of Christ? Is a hospital or school really irrelevant in the face of date night?

It may seem odd that I am speaking about the wrongful emphasis our culture puts on eros. This is a dating site, after all. But my point here is that if you are not dating this holiday season, perhaps it would be comforting to know that you can always engage in the other three types of love. And isn’t that what makes you a Catholic? 

C.S. Lewis explains the four loves together as the Christian ideal. Most significantly, he says, “the highest cannot stand without the lowest.” Not only is he saying one type is never more important than the other, but note that he never says what the “highest” and “lowest” types are. This is especially important. As Christians, we understand that these four types are what make us who we are. We also know that they are equal; and that we should dedicate our lives to all of them.

My challenge to you is this: call all your friends and tell them you love them. Make amends with any family member you’d been arguing with. Help out at a soup kitchen, or contact Caritas International to find charities in your area. Give cards to all your co-workers, even the ones who drive you crazy.

I promise the holidays will be much more festive. I can’t imagine that sitting around waiting for a date is better than working to help others. 

My best wishes for a wonderful holiday filled with agape, philia and storge. For now, put aside eros … at least ’til after the New Year, and then browse profiles to your heart’s content!






13 Comments

  1. David-870960 December 16, 2012 Reply

    Well said!

  2. Helen-407474 December 16, 2012 Reply

    Another great article, Cate! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Meesch-691047 December 16, 2012 Reply

    Every thing has a reason, like being single allows you to be more generous with your time and energy!

    • Meesch-691047 December 17, 2012 Reply

      Yes! I already gave Christmas cards to my co-workers and bosses even to the ones that drive me crazy and angry :)
      Love- in all forms- is simply love :)

    • Elena-892127 December 18, 2012 Reply

      yes your right…

  4. Diane-910734 December 17, 2012 Reply

    This was wonderful to read. Thanks!

  5. Elena-892127 December 18, 2012 Reply

    i would like to ask apologize to all you guys for sending messages..i cant reply you..due to my membership status..not all people here in philippines have own a credit card..so i cant open and read my email…so sad

  6. Ted-921153 December 21, 2012 Reply

    This article has much substance and makes me want to read more on this site as it is full of wisdom to counter the commercialism associated with media values. It is also refreshing to read these thoughts that make me feel like I don’t belong to a lonely hearts club as I do often feel when reading some of the desperate posts that show an inherent lack of faith.

  7. John-683886 December 22, 2012 Reply

    Horrible article. Eros is the most important because it exists in order to provide that sacred bond between husband and wife on a natural level. Obviously, a life partner becomes the most important person in a married person’s life. This article ought to target something more interesting than magazines.

    • Lesley-158563 December 22, 2012 Reply

      What about a marriage of 20, 30, or 50 years? Husbands and wives had better learn to love and respect each other in other ways to keep the flame alive.

  8. Jeann-850705 December 26, 2012 Reply

    vvvv

  9. Jeann-850705 December 26, 2012 Reply

    Right now I have any feeling with anybody. the man I thought, it was God sending one ended up to be a mistake and big disappointment. I have to leave my ill mother just to be with him. Instead of consideration for that, it was insulting and childish behavior. I was expecting to show me his kindness no. He is too primitive for that. Last week, I got close tohim in the church to and tried to facilitate our approach because I saw in him some kind of shyness and his ego will not let him show me that. What came after that, he came to express his own feeling by telling me that I do not have any money to give to you. We do not talk aboutmoney, this one came from out of nowhere. Which kind ofmoney a retired in army could have? Or the job that he does aside? What does he possess that he thinks that I am with him because of money. You trying to tell me that you were the only man who has money that I have never met:? His friends have been telling that person he is in love with her ( I know that he loves me alot even so he has not been able to express because of his shyness and his ego) is there because of your money. Do they know me? They just are very racist & wicked individuals capable to fabricate mountain of liars to reach to their goals. He & his investigation team have been following me everywhere I go. I have figured out today again that they were following me this afternoon where I went to Fairfax , where my God children live. That was the last minute arrangement. I was not supposed to go out, I cancelled everything. I waisted too much my time, a year this month for someone who does not deserve it. No more with him. What I am convinced and happy with that by hurting me he ended up to hurt himself. He is restless. He is more jealous and capable of everything. I am not the one who is suffering, he is suffering too. But

  10. Sue-906387 December 27, 2012 Reply

    Wow…thanks for the reminder!

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