You can almost always tell whether I’m getting the love I need. When I’m not getting the love I need, I gorge myself on ice cream and cookies and doughnuts. I stuff as much as I can into my body — trying to fill a hole that can only be filled by love. The result is serious weight gain.
So the general rule for me is simple. If I’m eating in a way that’s good for my body, I’m probably feeling loved and understood. If I’m gaining weight and making daily trips to the ice cream aisle for Blue Bell cookies ’n’ cream or rocky road, you can be pretty sure that I’m empty inside and I’m engaged in a futile unconscious attempt to fill that hole with food.
I’ve been thinking about this today because of a comment that a friend made on Facebook Thursday night. He’s down and frustrated this week, and he said, “Me siento perdido y tambien he perdido mi fe en el amor,” which roughly translates to, “I feel lost and I’ve also lost my faith in love.”
His comment struck me as sad and I could easily empathize with him. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life feeling the same way. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that his phrasing didn’t strike me as right. What does it mean to “lose faith in love”? Does that even make sense?
Human beings have a very fundamental need for love and understanding. Love is just as necessary to the healthy functioning of a human being as food, water and oxygen. Lack of oxygen can kill you in minutes. Going without water might take days or weeks to kill you.
Lack of love takes longer to kill, but it slowly destroys you from the inside. It starts by numbing you to your feelings. You start by repressing the need. Slowly, the heart feels harder. Then more of you gets harder and more callous and dead. Before you know it, you can become an unfeeling zombie wandering through life — mimicking life, but essentially just waiting for death to come and claim you.
For some of us, we turn to addictions in a crazy attempt to fill the need. For me, it has been food, especially sugar. For others, it’s alcohol or other drugs or gambling or sex or success. We can become addicted to almost anything as we latch onto substances or activities to fill that unfilled need for love.
If you were starving, would you say you had lost faith in food? Or would you say that you need to find some food?
Let’s say you had counted on someone to feed you. Someone had promised to provide food, but now that person had failed to provide. Have you lost faith in food? Or have you merely lost faith in someone you thought you could count on?
There are times in life when we count on people to love us. Sometimes a person has promised to love us, but he hasn’t kept his promise to nourish us with love. We feel betrayed and starved for love. But should we lose faith in love?
Other times, we feel love for someone else and that person doesn’t feel the same thing. Should we lose faith in love? Or should we look elsewhere?
Losing faith in love makes no more sense than losing faith in food or losing faith in water or losing faith in oxygen. They’re all things we need, but they don’t just show up on their own.
When people betray their promise to provide some need, it’s reasonable to lose faith in that person. It’s reasonable to break a relationship. It’s reasonable to look elsewhere for the nourishment you need. But it’s not reasonable to blame love.
If you’re thirsty, you haven’t lost faith in water, even if you might have lost faith in those you had counted on to supply it. Water and love are needs that we fill. If we don’t have them, we go out and find them. Giving up on them isn’t an option — unless we’re ready to accept death.
I’ve spent a good bit of my life starved for love. It’s the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. It’s confusing and all-consuming. It’s awful.
But I need love. Without it, I start dying. I know that, even at those times when I’m shoveling half a gallon of ice cream into my mouth in half an hour.
Lately, I’ve dropped nearly 20 pounds on the scale. I haven’t visited the ice cream aisle in a couple of months, because something more powerful has been taking the place of junk food.
Sometimes you find love. Sometimes loves finds you. Sometimes you drift along for awhile without love while you wait. But never lose faith that love is out there.
And never lose faith that love can save your life and give you new purpose when you least expect it.