Stronger in every respect – if you can let it have this effect upon you. What is mostly needed is your firm choice to do so.
“Love makes you stronger…” At first sight this doesn’t necessarily fit. Love may drive a person to transcend his own personal well-being, like a parent caring first for his child and then for himself. True of course. Love may even make one suffer for the sake of someone else. However, strength doesn’t mean that suffering will be gone, but rather that one can accept it as part of life – living in love.
One can suffer and at the same time be happy, feeling that “things are OK as they are.”
This is a true sign of strength. It heightens resilience. Accepting discomfort and suffering out of love, one can manage situations that one would otherwise back away from. It makes people do things not only for the money. It lets higher purposes come into play. I know this has been said 1000 x before. It’s worth repeating 1000 x more, especially in this present age in search of ‘greatness’:
True greatness lies more in love than in worldly power, status, fame…
An essential characteristic of love is overlap. This is the experience that “what is good for someone else is also good for me.” A mother for instance can have this experience towards her baby. This is more than just a feeling. It’s a ‘total person experience,’ meaning that there is an overlap-in-depth. Love always exists at the deeper level. It is never merely superficial. When there is overlap only in superficiality, one may call that rather ‘emotional contagion.’ This doesn’t make you stronger. On the contrary, it may bring more suffering through witnessing that of another, in a wider context of increasing helplessness.
To be able to speak of love, one needs overlap and depth.
One may have prior negative experiences – of abuse for instance – that make it harder to reach out for this combination. Inner strength makes it easier. This provokes a vicious circle since love in return also makes you stronger.
Mind that love is not egoism, nor is it altruism. The overlap at deeper level dissipates egoism and altruism: doing good for someone else is at the same time doing good for yourself. Someone who loves, doesn’t put himself aside, even if ‘sacrifice’ is involved. Instead, true love goes through oneself to the other person – if you know what I mean. Altruism doesn’t necessarily have this characteristic unless of course it’s of the loving kind. This may lead to terminological confusion. I would rather use the terms very specifically. To speak of altruism – that is: what I reserve the term for – there is no need for overlap, nor for depth.
Altruism may make you stronger, but according to me it is a much more brittle strength than that of love.
One may thus also better understand another truism: “Love conquers death”. Indeed, taking into account the overlap-in-depth of true love, it feels like living further in the beloved person(s). This can go very far – in total experience of the one who is loved as well as of the one who loves. In a way, it brings immortality! Might that be a nice symbolic understanding of ‘heaven’?