Passion is a good thing. As long as you have a proper understanding of it. Solomon, considered the wisest man of all the ages and credited with the book of Ecclesiastes, wrote two things that help me understand passion. (paraphrased here);
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength.. for your days are short and then you will sleep in the grave.”
“Do you see man skillful in his work? I tell you, he will not stand among ordinary men, but rather among princes and kings.”
That’s the definition that comes to mind when I think of men like Michaelangelo. There were plenty of other sculptors in his day, but Michaelangelo considered himself more than a sculptor. Sculpting was only one of the mediums he used to express his desire to create something beautiful from nothing. Even when commissioned for the Cistine Chapel, though his response was basically, “I don’t do ceilings.. it’s not my craft!”, when the Pope commissioned him and he resigned to doing it he did it with all his passion and made it the best ceiling he could possibly create. Passion. You just gotta respect a man with passion.
And so now to the issue of Love and Lust. Each of them find a catalystic, synergetic reaction when combined with Passion. But the results… that’s where we find the similarity begins to disperse. The differences are easy to see when observed from a distance, but when operating internally things can get kinda confusing. Some of us have found ourselves interested in someone and thought, “Do I really love this person? Or am I just, well, basically in some feverish state of desire?” This is where I think it’s helpful to have an understanding of how and why Love and Lust are characterized as two totally different states of being.
In Love, be it the love of a Father to children, man to woman, friend to friend.. the prime focus is the welfare of the person being loved. Giving is the natural instinct of Love since it cares for the good of the beloved. It’s no wonder so many times love has been supremely expressed with the statement, “I would die for you.” In love a mother would cover her children from sudden gunfire with her own body. In love a man would risk his life to spare his beloved from a stranger’s attack. In love, an innocent God would die in the place of guilty men to relieve them of guilt.
But now, Lust is the exact opposite of Love. Where Love desires the good and pleasure of the beloved, Lust desires to use the person or object for its own good and pleasure. A man who has Lust for money, does not really so much desire the money as he does the power to use it to provide greater pleasures for himself. When a man has lust for a woman, it is not really the woman he wants, she is only a “utensil” or “method” by which he can satisfy… himself. Lust draws into itself for it is at heart and nature Selfish. C.S. Lewis mentions this in his observations of Love, the alter-ego if you will of Lust.
He stated that Lust causes a man to want, not a woman, but the satisfaction of his own appetite. To him the woman is only a secondary consideration for she is only the means by which he pleases himself. Whereas Love causes a man to want, not just a woman, but one particular woman. This man desires the good of his beloved in the context of “giving” rather than “taking” and the woman is loved specifically.
Although our own hearts will even deceive us and tell us what we want to hear, at times we can run hypothetical situations in our mind to see how our hearts react. These are methods I employ within myself, though I do not believe all people will arrive at the same answers for the same reasons. To some it is too tempting to glory in the idea of momentous bravery to arrive at a discerning answer. For others, this situation does not really touch on what they consider the epitomy of love expressed. In fact, it can be argued that it is easier to be brave for one moment than to excercise consideration on a daily basis for a lifetime. That being said, here are two tactics I employ against my heart when I am wondering where my motivations stem from.
I picture myself first in a convenience store with this person. Then the typical scenario of two gunmen rushing in to rob the store. Is my first reaction to shield this woman I entertain myself to be in love with? Or do I see myself doing something less? I also picture myself at age 60. Beside me I picture this woman currently on my mind also aged. When time has worn down the external beauty of this lovely flower.. is it still this woman who could make my heart sing just to sit beside her and know that it was I she chose to love all those years?
I have to say, in all honesty, that at times I have not seen what I hoped to see when asking myself these questions. I have had to realize that the interests I thought at first to be Love in its giving form were no more than the indiscriminate flurries of Lust with no concern than for self. But then there are other times, when I get to know a woman and realize, though she be pleasing to my eyes and her voice tender to my ears.. it is not what I might have from her that have a burning passion for. Rather it is a passion to care for this woman’s good all the days of her life. Of course, for love to operate correctly this same love must be present mutually. When it is not, eventually the new and exciting becomes the old and familiar and the Lust that wore such a clever disguise is now exposed in its coldness to the needs of it’s mate.
And so it is when a man or woman exercises their Love, or Lust, with a passion to excel to ever new heights that the effect each has is to produce a person who either a joy and a delight to be near… or an insatiable vacuum whose only delight is in self. I have no idealistic ideas about the goodness of my nature. I am by nature a selfish man. And so it will only be with conscious effort that, I believe, we will press forward into the joys of ‘giving’ Love with a passion that seeks to excel in the delight of our beloved.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.