"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. ... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails."—1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
Love (noun): 1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties 2) attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers 3) affection based on admiration, benevolence or common interests.—Merriam Webster Dictionary
What is love? Depends on whom you ask. In search of an answer, I asked people in different relationship situations: a married couple, an engaged couple and a single person.
Glen, 30, and Stephanie Edwards Williams, 32, of Florence met in 2002 at Mississippi State Hospital where they were employed. They had a son in 2004, and were married in 2007. For them, love is defined as, "the unconditional, passionate affection you have for another." They believe you know it's love when you share a bond so strong you know one another's thoughts.
"Glen proposed to me in the parking lot of the Wound Care Clinic, nothing fancy. That's what I love about him," Stephanie says. "Through the years, we have been here for each other through sickness and health, good and bad days."
Carletta Delong, 23, and Christy Hill, 28, of Flowood also met at work seven years ago. Currently, they are engaged and anxiously awaiting their first child, a daughter Chloe Madison, due June 18. The couple believes that love is about longevity, respect, honest and monogamy. "I recognized that I loved Christy just because of the way my face lights up when I get a text/phone call from her, or even when I see her face. I also knew it the moment I realized that I couldn't imagine my life without her," Carletta says.
Erica Durr, 32, of Jackson believes that love is a melting pot of emotions, characterized by individual drive.
"What drives you? Sexual gratification?" she asks. "Well, your definitive basis for loving someone or something lies within the parameters of physical pleasure. ... Is your view of love influenced by pop culture and media? Well, you're more likely to have rehearsed acts and exhibit more dissociative episodes when illustrating love to and receiving love from others. Some people can't trust themselves enough to be single, so therefore love serves as a refuge for them, a safe haven."
So why is she single? She answers frankly: "I'm single because I'm a disillusioned, scarred, emotionally dissociative woman who has yet to face her issues, deal with them accordingly, and move on. Sure, I'll have sporadic romances here and there, but nothing substantial with longevity with someone of high caliber until I deal with Erica."
After talking with these people, and getting so many different thoughts, I believe that both the Bible scripture and Webster's got it right. Love transcends so many things: age, race, sexuality, background, fears of loneliness and pressures to conform. The ability to love oneself first, to me, is the highest example of love.