When I got married, I became an instant dad to my wife’s two sons. One day just before we were married, Joanne and the boys came to visit me. Jarrod, the older, was four. He sat on my lap and we played with his teddy bear. I would take his teddy and pretend he was talking to Jarrod. When it was Jarrod’s turn to make the bear “talk,” he swung it and hit me hard across the face.
He didn’t mean to be violent, but got carried away with the game. However, when he saw the blow had shocked me, he quickly put both hands up in a defensive position, expecting me to hit back.
I was stunned more by his fear than by being hit. At that moment, I realized what it was going to take to be a father figure – forgiveness and love.
I slowly reached out, took both his shoulders, pulled him close and kissed him on the cheek. I can still remember the amazed look on his face. He relaxed and we started playing again.
It would’ve been easy to try to “teach him a lesson.” But both of us needed an instruction in love being lived. And we needed to learn, most of all, that love matters.
I believe most of us are inherently aware that love is needed for us to maintain a true quality of life experience. Love and forgiveness, given and received, make us feel mentally and emotionally better. Yet, how many of us know that love has an impact on physical well-being?
The World Heart Federation reports that love helps us to preserve a good mental attitude. At the same time it enhances physical health because of its positive effect on immune systems and the heart.
Dr. Dean Ornish, president and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, in his book Love and Survival shares many research studies suggesting that love is a real healer. For example:
- At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, researchers asked 10,000 married men with no history of chest pains (angina), "Does your wife show you her love?" The men who responded "yes" were found to experience significantly less angina during the next five years than husbands answering "no."
- Yale University scientists questioned 119 men and 40 women before they submitted to angiography tests. Those who reported feeling most loved and supported were found to have quite noticeably fewer blockages in the arteries.
- In 1952, Harvard University doctors randomly chose 126 healthy male students. The students were asked to describe the nature of their relationships with their parents. In 1987, medical records were acquired for the subjects, who were in their 50s. More than 90 percent of those who didn't sense warm relationships with their mothers had been diagnosed with serious illnesses, compared with 45 percent of those who cited loving relationships with their mothers. For fathers, the respective numbers were 82 and 50 percent.
As we can see, love apparently provides health benefits. Yet, what kind of love makes the biggest difference in our health?
Passionate love and compassionate love are two different forms of love. Passionate love is an absorption in another, an intense emotional experience, usually associated with new romance. Normally, it doesn’t last long. Compassionate love is a deep caring and concern for another that is more prolonged, yet often declines with passing years. It is more of a low-keyed human emotion.
However, I and many others have experienced a love that sustains itself across years. This is a divine Love that produces consistent mental and physical stability as well as improvements. The less one thinks about himself or herself, the more he or she can tap into this Love and express it more fully. And the more this is done, the more this person is able to heal himself and others.
Mary Baker Eddy, an early Christian explorer in the realm of mental, spiritual, and physical healing, wrote, “That individual is the best healer who asserts himself the least, and thus becomes a transparency for the divine [Love], who is the only physician.”
A friend of mine, Ken, shared with me how he experienced divine Love in action. He told me that 11 years ago, a growth developed both in and outside of one of his lower eyelids.
At first, he was afraid. The condition was never diagnosed, yet doctors had detected similar growths on his grandmother and had determined they were cancerous. Ken called a friend who was a Christian Science practitioner to pray with him about this problem.
At times, he caught himself wondering whether God was a God of wrath, punishing him for something he might have done. But as he continued to pray, Ken could tell the healing was taking place even though the growth seemed to increase in size. The real growth that was taking place was a solid realization that God is Love and loved His child unconditionally.
Every area of his life was affected by Love’s healthy touch. His attitude changed. He expressed more compassion and kindness.
During this time, Ken also became aware of a deep-rooted fear that was attacking the very essence of a desire he had to serve God in whatever way God wanted him to. And this fear was simply that if the problem continued, it could prevent him from fulfilling this desire.
He suddenly realized this fear was a ridiculous lie. Ken affirmed that he lived to express God’s love. He felt peaceful and was aware of the love that never quits. God’s goodness and boundless love for all His creation was more real to him than the fear. Ken knew he was healed.
Two weeks later, the growth fell off his eyelid without leaving a trace or scar.
Yes, statistics reveal, but even more importantly, minds and bodies show that love and forgiveness, given and received, make us feel mentally, emotionally and physically better.
Our quality of life will be consistently improved as we begin to understand that the love behind our love is divine. This is why love matters.
Keith Wommack is a syndicated columnist and blogger, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband and step-dad. He is a legislative liaison for spiritual healing and Christian Science in Texas. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s syndicated columns and blogs originate at: http://texashealthblog.com/