//We can live if we have love

We can live if we have love

Henry Drummond once wrote a celebrated essay on love which he titled ‘The Greatest Thing in the World’. I have never met anyone who disagreed with the axiom that love is the greatest thing in the world, but I frequently talk to people who despair of ever finding it. They are convinced that they are unlovable and indeed their track record seems to bare out that conviction.

But in years of counselling I have never met a person who was permanently disabled for love. It is possible that you have developed some rough edges which complicate your relationships and get you into trouble, but at the core you are fully capable of loving and being loved.

You can have a life filled with love. No matter how lacking in the social graces, no matter how poorly suited you feel that your personality is for friendship, you can become lovable. You can establish deep and lasting connections with other people. Love comes not to those are merely good looking or talented. Beauty and talent alone never make for lasting relationships. Love is something you do, and if you will employ the basic rules, you can have great friendships.

Karl Menninger said, “Love is the medicine for the sickness of mankind. We can live if we have love.”

The same message comes from another psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, a Viennese Jew, who was interned by the Nazis for more than three years. He was moved from one concentration camp to another, even spending several months at Auschwitz.…Their bodies wasted away on the daily fare of meager amounts of bread and thin gruel.

One morning as they marched out to lay railroads in the frozen ground, the accompanying guards kept shouting and driving them with the butts of their rifles. The man next to Frankl, hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, whispered: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

Frankl writes, “That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind…I clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look….A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire…The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

When we remember the primacy of love, and believe in our almost unlimited capacities for giving and receiving it, life can take on a vast joyfulness. Teilhard de Chardin once wrote, “Someday, after we have mastered the winds and the waves, the tides and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.”


Alan Loy McGinnis (1933 – 2005) was an author, a psychotherapist, and a Presbyterian minister. Today there are over 3 million copies of his books in print