I've been thinking about love lately. Well, that's not entirely true. The thought of love -- what is it? why does it matter? why do people seem to talk about it so much? -- ruminates at the back of my mind nearly daily. So, yes, I've been thinking of love lately, but that is in no way unusual. I am always considering love.

I love you.

This statement is mysterious. I mull over it constantly at times. I love you. Its power is remarkable. People look for it, searching like it's the last morsel of bread in a barren place. People change their lives around, sometimes leaving everything good and familiar to posses those words. I confess I don't understand it.

And also I do.

For me, love is often very difficult. It is difficult to experience, difficult to express -- almost pain. It's complex and overwhelming and utterly good. There is something essential about love. We need it somehow.

All this means is that we need people, relationships. We need real community. It's simply the way we are made. The difficulty for me has come from a couple of places as far as I know right now. One is social. I think being vulnerable and known is frowned upon. It's also terrifying. The danger of being irreparably hurt is very real. The last has to do with the complexity of physical attraction.

At this point in history, we live in an over-sexualized culture. It makes loving in friendship unusual and hard to comprehend. I remember how uncomfortable I felt reading through the friendship of David and Jonathan or Frodo and Samwise for the first time. I couldn't shake this expectation that a passionate kiss was coming at any minute.

The problem is when we relegate love, connection, to only sexual pleasure, it is twisted and devalued, and my own feelings become more important to me than all else. Now, there is much to be said about the experience of being in love or falling in love, but it is careless to make it more significant than it is -- as though attraction-based love is the highest and deepest and best, the greatest goal of our short, otherwise empty lives. No, being loved by the one who made us and finding full satisfaction in him should have that place.

And his fullness is everywhere and at the center of everything. And I know what it is to know, love, be satisfied by him in part because I know my husband and love my mother and am satisfied by the intense care of my children.