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Why The Love You Take is Equal to the Love You Make

Updated on November 18, 2012

Love is a paradox. The more you hoard it, the less you have and when you give it away, you have more left than you gave.

A decade ago on September 11, 2001, some men's inhumanity to man was perpetrated and our nation reeled from the impact. There was anger and outrage and a commitment to go after the ringleaders, but what I didn't expect was the effect it had on our personal attitudes toward each other. I was struck by the many unselfish, loving acts that came after that. Many of us were more caring, more appreciative and loving. Drivers would slow down and let you in, people would greet you with a smile and there was a renewed love for our country and for the heroes who struggled with the tragedy. It began to dawn on me that even when we are dealt a shattering blow, there is an ability to draw from whatever reservoir of love is left and in the giving to others, we are enlarged and renewed ourselves.

Once I was a substitute teacher in some of our most troubled public schools where I took pride in my ability to have the students working within the first fifteen minutes of class. At the most difficult school, however, I found there were some students who were immune to my skills and practiced authority. They simply would not cooperate. I decided to do some research and found out that every single one of them were in homes where one or both parents were absent and they had little supervision and concern from any adult. My heart went out to these troubled "incorrigibles" and I started treating them, not with discipline but with compassion and honest interest in them.

To my surprise, every one of them began to do their work and participated like the rest of the class. Love was the missing ingredient in their lives and they represent thousands and thousands more throughout the world who will not listen, will not cooperate and one day they respond to a little attention from architects of hate and strap a bomb to themselves or hijack a plane heading for the world that turned its back on them.

Love is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. ~ Erich Fromm

Mother Teresa left her job teaching girls in a Catholic school and spent 50 years in India caring for in the words of Emma Lazarus: the " tired... poor... huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse,"abandoned on the streets. Every day she would bring them to her plain, unfurnished home and love them as if they were Jesus. "We have all been created for greater things - to love a person without any conditions, without any expectations... " She said that the more we love each other, the closer we come to God.

The famous "love" chapter in the Bible, I Corinthians 13, gives some interesting descriptions of love that I saw evidenced after 9/11. "Love is patient and kind." Think about being in traffic, in lines at the market, trying to get kids ready for school, politicians and spending, a spouse late for a meal or an event....Love is patient and kind. Think about it.

There is a wonderful word coined by Myles Coverdale in 1535 which we don't use today--Lovingkindness. It is hesed in Hebrew, metta in India, mohabbat in Persian, and agape in Greek. Unlike many English words, its meaning is obvious. Acts of kindness motivated by love. The word is usually associated with God, but one I would like to see associated with you and me.

Why isn't it? I think it is because our attitude is the opposite of Mother Teresa's. We do have conditions before we express love. We do have expectations. In fact, if someone does not fulfill our expectations, we withhold love--If someone does not meet our conditions, we not only withhold love, we often give the opposite or at least a piece of our mind.

Respected writer and theologian, Arthur Bowler, tells a story from his youth about his little brother being caught defacing his father's brand new hymnbook with a pen. Both he and his brother were frozen, expecting the harshest consequences of this breach of their father's conditions and expectations..

My father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully, and then sat down, without saying a word. Books were precious to him; he was a clergyman and the holder of several degrees. For him, books were knowledge, and yet he loved his children. What he did next was remarkable. Instead of punishing my brother, instead of scolding or yelling or reprimanding, he sat down, took the pen from my brother's hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles John had made: John's work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into your beautiful face and into your warm, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal. You have made the book sacred, as have your brothers and sister to so much of my life.

It is so easy to react in anger when others hurt us, but think of the impact on others when you react with love even in the face of loss or pain. Jesus said it this way (my paraphrase): If you do good to those who do good to you, that's not love, everybody does that--but if you love your enemy, bless those who curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who use you and persecute you--that is love. ~ Matthew 5:44

One of my favorite hubbers, Sunflowerbucky recently wrote an excellent article entitled "A Decade Later--Lessons Learned." I left a comment there and because it relates to my subject, I am reproducing it here:

Hey Bucky, I noticed that after 9/11 everyone was nicer to each other, there was unity in mourning and our patriotic sense was heightened. It lasted longer than I expected and there was total support of marshaling our forces for a Taliban strike. I am not sure our aim was perfect and we made some mistakes, but there is no doubt in the terrorists mind that if you stir up the American hornets nest, we will swarm and we will sting.

In the years following, the swarm has polarized into nonsensical versions of right and left and the leaders are taking advantage of our lack of unity.

Thomas L. Fieldman has written a book: That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. I heard him being interviewed and he said that other, more vigorous economy leaders in the world point to our self preoccupied, entitled attitudes and say we are not listening to the world.

I agree. We need to listen to each other, find a need and fill it like we used to. None of the people in the towers talked about our differences and how we need to further a political system of thought--every one of them talked to their loved ones and focused on what was important while our heroes battled the flames to help them.

I say remember the lessons of 9/11--Focus on the important, everyone pitch in and dig our country out of its self-inflicted wounds, and stand up tall.

It's not the height of our buildings or the numbers in our stock market that determines our greatness, it is the strength of our character and the determination of our spirit. I am at times conservative and liberal, saint and sinner, at times a hawk and at times a dove, but at all times I am an American and I'm ready to stand up and be counted. =:)

And we stand tallest when we can love without conditions and expectations, freely, with nothing to gain and nothing to prove because that is who we are.

Love, Winsome

The following are last texts and phone messages from the planes and towers of 9/11:

"Honey wanted to tell you how much i love you. You mean everything to me. You have my whole heart and life."
At 9:07 a.m., Melissa was able to make a second call to her newlywed husband Sean, who was asleep in San Francisco, and leave a message.
"Sean, it's me," she said in her message. "I just wanted to let you know I love you and I'm stuck in this building in New York. There's a lot of smoke and I just wanted to let you know that I love you always," she said.

"We're never going to know exactly what happened," a woman said of her husband. "And I'm resolved in that I know he probably died the way he lived his life. ...

"He died with honor, he died with courage, he died a gentleman and he died with a lot of love and faith because that's how he lived."

Another hijacked airliner, United Flight 93, also carried passengers who phoned loved ones.

Mark Bingham, 31 -- one of a group of passengers who tried to overpower the hijackers and regain control of the plane -- called his mother to say goodbye.

"He said 'I want you to know I love you very much, and I'm calling you from the plane. We've been taken over. There are three men who say they've got a bomb,'" recalled his mother.

Capt. Walter Hynes of the New York Fire Department's Ladder 13 dialed home that morning as his rig left the firehouse at 85th Street and Lexington Avenue. He was on his way downtown, he said in his message, and things were bad. "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

Elizabeth Rivas saw it that way too. When her husband left for the World Trade Center that morning, she went to a laundry, where she heard the news. She couldn't reach him by cell and rushed home. He'd called at 9:02 and reached her daughter. The child reported, "He say, mommy, he say he love you no matter what happens, he loves you." He never called again. Mrs. Rivas later said, "He tried to call me. He called me."

There was Tom Burnett's famous call from United Flight 93. "We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something," he told his wife, Deena. "I love you, honey."
Todd Beamer of United 93 wound up praying on the phone with a woman he'd never met before, a Verizon Airfone supervisor named Lisa Jefferson. She said later that his tone was calm. It seemed as if they were "old friends," she later wrote. They said the Lord's Prayer together. Then he said "Let's roll."

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. ~ Stephen Grellet/William Penn

Feel free to quote from this article and please include ©Winsome Publishing 2011


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    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi SD, thank you so much for stopping by. It is my profound wish to do just as you've said. As the man in the round glasses said: It's all we need. =:)

    • stricktlydating profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      I like the message in this Hub, keep on spreading the love :)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thank you AC, when you greatly love someone, you can do extraordinary things and loving this way sometimes produces extraordinary people.

      The challenge is to cultivate a habit of loving extravagantly so that it spills over onto everyone you meet. XOXtravagant well wishes to you. =:)

    • acaetnna profile image


      7 years ago from Guildford

      Love in my opinion is the ultimate emotion. Love is completely beautiful and so is your hub. Voting up and pressing your buttons too.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thank you Ken and you are so right that it takes time and effort to comprehend love, more time to learn how to love and a great deal of courage to love unconditionally. I am honored to have you here my friend and I applaud your commitment. We will all be the better for it. =:)

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      7 years ago

      I have learned over all of my years that LOVE is the most important 4 letter word in the English language, yet it is Universal. It took me many many years to understand the true meaning of LOVE and how to show it. I went through many trials and tribulations searching for it, I found LIKE, LUST and superficial types of LOVE but never really the true LOVE.

      Yet it's there in front of our face all the time, we simply have to let it happen, let if unfold before our very eyes, it's all around us. Our very planet is LOVE, it's beauty it's depth. Mother Nature is a real teacher of LOVE and she teaches us every day to LOVE her and she will LOVE us back or kill us with her fury.

      My friend, you have written one of the best Hubs I have read here at the Hubs and I am so inspired to LOVE until my dying breath, unconditionally to every single human being on our planet. For LOVE will definitely help change our World..for ALL WE TRULY NEED IS LOVE.........peace and blessing to you, I love you brother...

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thank you AE, it is delightful to see you here. Thank you for the visit and the kind words. Your friends indeed had the last words and they were words of love. May we be as bold. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Anginwu, thank you for the gracious comment--I wish my interactions wouldn't clang so much sometimes. I know that all I have to do is ask myself what this person needs, not what I can say about what they said or did. =:)

    • AEvans profile image


      7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Absolutely beautiful! All of us need to continue to be kind and for those who are not, they need to remember the words on this hub from 09/11. I lost a few friends on that day and I will never forget where I was when I heard the news. Thank you for sharing with us, some of the last words spoken. Thumbs up!

    • anglnwu profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well written and love truly conquers all. Without love, as the Bible points out, we're merely clanging cymbols--noise without music. Great hub and rated up.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Wayne, good to see you and thank you for the insightful comment. I agree that we withhold something that was given to us freely with no strings attached as if we own it. Love is a gift from God and can only be used that way. When we try to make it currency, it is gone--on its way to someone who lets it flow freely.

      The names on your Christmas card list that you send to even though they don't send you one in return, the smile you give to the clerk with the perpetual frown, the forgiveness you impart to the one who hurt you and still has not apologized--these are the ways of true love, not the barter system we have concocted.

      Thanks again for coming by for sharing. =:)

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      7 years ago from Texas

      God gave us a lot of things as humans but no doubt the greatest is truly love. As you point out, too often, our love is conditional when it should not be. We withhold love to "teach" others how to respond. True love is really without expectation...the manner in which your dog loves strings attached. Send the birthday card and the gift because you love someone not because you expect a "thank you" note in return. We create our own disappointments too often in this life with our own ill-concieved behavior. Drop the expectations and see the true power of love take hold. Good write here, Winsome! WB

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi APG, I really appreciate your sharing and the lovely comment. We can't encourage loving acts enough. Blessings. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Thank you SG, and it was my very great pleasure. I visited one of my early poem-hubs in which I said: "Love, by the act of loving, creates much of what it loves." I wish we could grasp the significance of the power in a simple gesture of kindness and affection. =:)

    • allpurposeguru profile image

      David Guion 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      What a beautiful Hub. Voted up and shared all over.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful hub, thanks for writing it.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Hillary, thank you for the kind words and for your insightful comment. Someone I know says these words a lot: "There is always something about others that you don't know." We are all crying a little inside and what Thoreau said is true: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

      My job here is to encourage us all to sing the song of love while we still can--let none of us die with our song still in us. Love was given to us all freely but if it takes all that we have to gain it, as Peter Townsend says--it's still a bargain. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hello my friend, Hello--I'm glad you enjoyed it. You are an example of kindness and love on HP and I see you have been rightly given a Level 8 commenting level. Keep it up. =:)

    • Green Lotus profile image


      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Beautiful hub Winsome and a poignant reminder of the love we as Americans, (and human beings) are capable of. If only people would learn to act now as they did in the wake of 9/11. People went out of their way to be kind because they knew we were all crying inside. Why can't we all understand that we are all still crying?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      A wonderful hub and such a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Eiddwen, thanks for dropping by on your Blackbird to say hello. As one who is familiar to grief and the love that remains for those who are left, your words are greatly appreciated. Blessings and love. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi CW, so nice to see you here. Thank you for the "wonderful" comment--I don't think we can talk enough about love. I agree with Fromm, it is the only solution to the world's problems. =:)

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub indeed and a must for a vote up.

      Here's to many more hubs to share on here.

      Take care


    • cwarden profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      WOW - this is wonderful! Thank you

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Amy, I am so sorry for the difficulties you are having with MacGregor. I think all of us can identify with you because of experiences with traffic tickets or overdraft fees etc. I would like to challenge you if you let me--I am writing down my principles of relationships and so far I have two. The first I talked about in my "I Decided to be Myself..." hub, it is 1. What others think of me is none of my business. The second is harder. 2. What people say or do to me does not relieve me of my responsibility to be myself.

      What makes this one hard is if someone yells at me, I don't then have the right to yell at them--"They started it!"

      I still have to talk to them out of my own integrity, character and principles. If I, as a rule, do not yell at people, their yelling at me does not relieve me of my responsibility to be a non-yeller and speak to them with courtesy--not because they deserve it, but because I deserve to travel on the high road that defines me. Whether or not they respond is none of my business.

      Does that make any sense? I won't tell you what I said to the traffic officer that pulled me over on the freeway, but let's just say I'm working on the application of principle number 2.

      Yes the vet should have had compassion, yes they are being overly concerned with the money and karma will operate in the long run, but I learned a long time ago that the difficulties we face often produce in us maturity and character that far outweighs the pain involved. I know you Amy and I know you will find a way out of your present situation with lessons learned that will make your coming position the sweeter for it.

      We of HP love you and stand with you. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi C, nice to see you and thank you for the kind words and comment. I have found often that when I reach the end of my ability to love someone who is being less than lovable, when I pray about it I seem to get a second wind. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Dimitri, thank you for your kind comment. I have seen you exhibit the kind of consideration I talked about here as well as straight talk. Although I did not mention that aspect, I believe that straight talk and kindness is the force that will change the world. =;)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Gerg, good to see you and thank you. I hope we can all learn to see the possibilities in people over their shortcomings. Goethe noticed that if you treat people as they are they become worse. If you treat them as if they already are what they are capable of becoming, the goodness in them will rise to fulfill your expectations.

      This is the way we often treat our children with great results why not try it with the sour puss at work. =:)

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Kelly, you are sweet to say so. I almost choked on a piece of roll as I read again how that little girl remembered what her dad said to tell her momma.

      I can't be sure I could get to all the people I would call if I were in that situation so I think I'll just start telling them now. =:)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Beautiful ideology, Winsome, and I agree, but its not what I have experienced duing my stint as an unemployed loser. Negative, yes, but honest, at this time in my life.

      I adore my loyal companion, my gorgeous Scottish Terrier. Recently, he developed his first ear infection. I made an appointment with his relatively, new vet in St. Louis. The office vets were on vacation and I tentatively made an appointment for 2 days later. In the meantime, I sought the help of a nearby 24/7 ER vet clinic. They got MacGregor in that day and I began treatment. He has lost a good part of his hearing, despite my efforts.

      I was going through a trying time on other fronts, as my mom had traumatic, bypass surgery and I was not getting sleep staying at the hospital with her. My adult daughter, in trying circumstances of her own making, did not have a cellphone so I lent her mine. Since I did not have my phone to call to cancel the original vet appt, I made the short trip in and let them know what happened. The receptionist looked at me and said "sorry, we have a policy that there is a $60 charge for any appt not canceled 24-hours prior. I was at their office at 9:00 a.m. and the appt was for 4 p.m. that same day.

      I reminded her I am unemployed and have spent hundreds of dollars at their office and was unaware of the 24-hour stipulation. I explained about my mom and daughter. I was crying by that time. She said "well, I'll discuss it with the owner". Unfortunately, they will not lift the $60 office policy. What they don't understand, apparently, is that there are many people struggling today to take care of their beloved pets or give a homeless dog a place to stay. Without the help of the vet community, many have to relinguish their pets as they can no longer afford to take care of them as they deserve. I learned a hard lesson in hoping for compassion, as the almighty dollar wins. That $60 will cost the veterinary clinic a lot. They will never see me or MacGregor again. Their avarice supersedes their compassion, making them the biggest losers. In the process, it will take me a long time to forgive them for their greed and lack of humanity and I find it impossible to say I will ever love them. Their office policy is betraying the innocents that veterinarians take an oath to help. It is a purposeful, shortsighted, malicious act that I find reprehensible.

      Your hub is beautiful and I hope to be able to regain my ability to smile in the face of adversity.

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      JG, I agree with you we should have fostered the sense of community we had then, but I don't think it's too late. We've had ten years to think about what we did wrong and what we did right and maybe with all that wisdom we can simply forgo the hate for hate thing and go straight to love for love and love for hate. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. =:)

    • collegatariat profile image


      7 years ago

      These are some beautiful thoughts beautifully expressed. It's interesting to see that without the Author of Love bestowing it on us, we are entirely incapable of giving it away. Thank you for a wonderful Hub!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      7 years ago from UK

      Simply wonderful.

    • Gerg profile image


      7 years ago from California

      Beautiful expression of love and the nature of humankind. Thanks Winsome - outstanding.


    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Winsome - way up and awesome. I loved everything you wrote - sad, interesting, captivating and so true!

    • Winsome profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hi Rebekah, so glad you came by--it's a tall order talking about love, but when I started to think about how we are when push turns to shove, it was easy. The trick is to realize we are all one tower away from saying the love we feel--I just think we need to start saying it before it comes. xoxo =:)

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      I thought I would swing by and see what you've been up to, and I found this beautiful hub. You always say it so well.

      Love has no conditions. Period. I think what you have shared is a good reminder that we reflect what we see. What do we see when we look at our world. We will reflect where we place our focus. I'm sure most of us want to reflect the good in humanity. It's always our choice. thanks for your illumination. xo


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