What difference does it make?

In the 1965 movie Shenandoah there is a scene which resonated with me then and has remained with me these many years. Set during the American Civil War, a widower with six sons and one daughter, Charlie Anderson (Jimmy Stewart) is sitting on his front porch preparing to smoke a cigar when his daughter’s suitor, Lieutenant Sam (Doug McClure) approaches and asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Charlie responds by asking “Why? Why do you want to marry her?” When Sam responds “Well, I love her” Charlie tells him “That’s not good enough. Do you like her?” to which Sam starts to say “I just said I…” only to be interrupted by Charlie who tells him “No, no. You just said you loved her. There’s some difference between lovin’ and likin’. When I married Jennie’s mother, I-I didn’t love her – I liked her… I liked her a lot. I liked Martha for at least three years after we were married and then one day it just dawned on me I loved her. I still do… still do.  You see, Sam, when you love a woman without likin’ her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.”

Do you like her?

Do you like her?

There is indeed “some difference between lovin’ and likin’” as Charlie Anderson says, although far too many fail to see it or purposely avoid acknowledging the difference when they enter into a relationship, especially a life-long, forever relationship such as marriage. Furthermore, they seldom see the absolute necessity for both loving someone and liking them as well.

It is our egoism that gets in the way, our selfish desires, our overpowering conceit, and our self-interest that keeps us focused inwardly on ourselves rather than outwardly on any other. In our myopic self-centric universe, where everything revolves around the core being of self, nothing, even God—who is seldom given any thought or consideration at all—stands in subservience to one’s own godhood. Life, other than our own, is of value only as long as it serves our needs, our wants, and our desires. When it no longer satisfies it is casually dismissed, cast off as so much useless detritus, without a single moment’s thought.

The reason we don’t know the difference between lovin’ and likin’ is because we have no true understanding of what either truly means. We are quite comfortable in our self-proclaimed godhood and have no desire to expose the fact that the “emperor has no clothes.” Simply put, we enjoy the self-imposed fog which hides any semblance of truth from our vanity and our conceit. As long as we are happy little else matters. We studiously avoid engaging in open-minded intellectual pursuits, such as studying serious works of philosophy, ethics, morality, faith, or God. Instead we actively pursue only that which can provide instant pleasure and thus we avoid any unwanted and unnecessary confrontation with the realities of life.

It is only when we let go of our egoistic concerns and begin to love others as God loves (agape), with an unconditional love that we can truly know what it is to love. But in order to truly love someone for a life-time, you must first like (philia) them and you must be willing to share your entire self with them. And yes, it does make a difference.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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