What I'm Reading

Unselfish Affection

In The Four Loves, twentieth-century apologist and writer C.S. Lewis explores the nature of love.

The first category he covers is Affection, which is likened to the give and take relationship between a mother and a child. For the child there is the desire for love, or Need-love; for the mother, the giving of love, or Gift-love.

As social beings we all long for Need-love. Lewis writes how humans often complain about the lack of love from others. Indeed, we all desire to feel wanted and cherished.

From this desire for love we proceed to Gift-love, for by doing things for others we make ourselves needed, gaining the right to others’ appreciation.

But like Lewis’ Mrs. Fidget, this attitude can be quite selfish.

She insists on doing the wash, although it can be done far better and just as inexpensively by someone else. She wearies herself by keeping meals hot and staying up all night to greet family members who come home late. And that pallid, wan face, accusing all latecomers, makes one feel guilty about staying out late when there is really no reason to be. She makes ill-fitting clothes (as a gift, she says), which have to be worn if  one wants to show appreciation.

Don’t get so caught up in others’ affairs, Mrs. Fidget. You would save yourself and others a whole lot of trouble if you minded your own business. But perhaps you are afraid of not being needed.

True affection, points out Lewis, is helping others to mature so that you are no longer required. Being left out and becoming unnecessary may be difficult, but it teaches us the humility of Christ. Besides, you will then have the joy of seeing your protege succeed in life.


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