The structure of Love

Melissa Ann Howell Schier
12 min readMar 13, 2023

March 12 2023

What is the structure of Love?
Recently when I was visiting my family in North Carolina, I was able to go into a variety of old homes that had been converted into stores. Many of these stores were selling thrift items or vintage items and I really loved walking through and viewing the rooms and their contents.
I found some lovely candlesticks that looked like a knight with an angel that have prisms at one store in the mountains of NC. and I found a miniature tea set in another store in Winston Salem NC. Each store had it’s own appeal…some buildings were narrow and bursting with piles of various things from times past, while others had taken something old, and refurbished it to make it into something new, or even make it into a piece of art.

As I looked at these homes, I started to think of what people do, to create a space that we call our own home.
We work, and save our money, and we establish ourselves as being hardworking, and then we find a place to get a loan based on our financial stability, and then we find a building that presents itself in a way we can appreciate and we purchase it. Then we furnish it, sometimes bringing in light, innovation and color, and other times shutting these things out.

One store I went into, a book store, was so dark and full of books I could barely walk. I imagined I was in a Harry Potter movie. I was curious to see if the man who owned all this resource material was equally as resourceful. I thought to myself, that the owner of this book store MUST know of probably every book in recent times and even be able to access hard-to-find books because of the resources, right in front of him.
So I turned right, turned left and went straight and found my way through the narrow corridors to the place where the owner was. I carried with me a blue large, hardback book about George Washington, and when I found the owner, I had questions for him that I am sharing with you here, so you can understand my philosophy about homes and what builds them as an analogy of the structure of love.

My question, in order to do this, was to check THE USEFULNESS of his access to resources and information, by having him search for a book I had read as a child that I really enjoyed. Did all this information in all these books, help him do something good for me or for himself. Or was this information something that only benefited him if he could sell it to others.

I had a book as a child that was about this size, and had a blue cover like this, but it had a picture of a tree on the front. The story was about a kid who wanted a puppy and in his dream the puppy was a stuffed animal. The boy had to climb a lot of stairs and the tree on the cover had a door and over the door was a long word that the kid could not figure out ” I said.

Do you know how to help me find this book as I do not know the name or the author”, I continued.
The man, a white haired friendly sort, smiled and said “ you have done an excellent job explaining this book and I have absolutely no idea”.

It made me laugh…but at the same time, later in the day, after many previous YEARS of looking, I was able to find that book online using a variety of search terms, based on my sister’s suggestions, and the book is called “The wish tree” by John Ciardi. Apparently it is only useful to hold on to information that benefits us personally, and makes us happy. Other information is out there…often to just benefit others, financially.

One of the things I loved as a child, was that there was something written over the top of the door in the tree, that the child in the story could not figure out, that kept me interested. As the child got higher in the tree, or got “uplifted” in his thinking, he could “understand”.

I had wondered if the person who owned this store, and all the information contained within, would “benefit” from having all this “information” contained in these books, and also contained in the walls of his building, if this information did not apply to him? It seems that it did not.

Did he extract meaning and usefulness from giving space to all these books or, was it the interactions with other people, coming in and wanting to talk to him, that was meaningful, and the store was just a framework to attract those interactions? The store owner I had met, did not have the answer or know about the book that I wanted to find in spite of a wealth of “information”. People need other people, not information, it turns out.

I learned that even though he carried a lot of books in his store, those books, and the information contained within them, were not meaningful to him and did not contain information he wanted to keep for himself. A home is where a person wants to keep cherished information that matters inside their personal structure…and it is not a store house for anything else.

That is why a store is not usually a home.
A home, in my opinion, which provides outward expressions of what is meaningful to us, can be a glimpse into what going on in our thinking. My husband likes wood, and minerals and music, while I like little figurines, dolls, and art but we both love and cherish our children most of all. The things he enjoys looking at or listening to are blended in with the colorful things that I enjoy surrounding myself with, to become an inviting environment, that nurtures us and our children throughout all the years. It is comforting and enduring and welcoming.

We do not bring things in our home that invite in fear, danger, hopelessness or anger.
We can appreciate new art, new decorating ideas, and new furniture, but these new things, still, ultimately, must have a purpose to uplift. My husband says “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, meaning that things which have endured and stood the test of time, need not be replaced if they still meet our needs, and continue to bring joy.
To me, a home as an analogy of our thinking has as it’s structure, ideas we accepted as children, from our parents, starting with the most basic idea of “trusting in good” which is so natural to little children. If these structures are helping us experience joy, satisfaction and success, they will endure, no matter how old they get, and children who absorb these good thoughts, can go on to create their own houses, and even a cracked framework, or broken rocks or foundation, can be repaired and go on to support a happy family. Good ideas, like good furniture, never go out of style and never stop having a purpose to support joy and love.
In contrast, some new furniture, like some new ideas can in fact be quite useless or unsettling, and can be destructive to the people living in the home. We do not want to “invite” these negative or hopeless ideas into our thinking because our “mind” is valuable “real estate” and we do not want to give “space” to useless furniture, or garbage.

As an example of this, my sister and I thought it would be fun to go to a new coffee shop to get a hot drink as it was cold outside and sleet or snow was predicted. The chairs in the coffee shop, were new and quaint to look at, but they were so small and narrow that both buns could not be comfortably planted on them. (lol). Because they were small, more chairs could be fit in the room, but a lot of useless chairs were still not something that should be “housed” or kept, were they?
Like those coffee shop chairs, some ideas we “buy into” are equally useless and equally unlikely to enhance or improve our mental “space”. When we recognize that an idea is not uplifting us, or helping us be happy and successful, we should root it out and stop giving it “space”.
As I was thinking this and driving, Joel Olsteen even had a talk on the radio, mirroring what I was thinking about how, “ just because a person has a thought, does not mean that they have to think it”. He said that if a person showed up at our door, with guns, poison, rabid dogs and whips, we would not hesitate to lock them out of our home. He explained that some thoughts, are just like rabid dogs, and poison, and when we let them into our mental “home” these thoughts can do a lot of damage to the structure of our thinking. But this damage is not irreparable and we can also choose to get rid of this “furniture” that is not helping us.

So that brought me to the idea of the “structure of Love”. I love architecture, and buildings that have endured, and that are unique or useful in a variety of ways. But buildings, including homes, are nonliving things, and we are told in the bible, that Peter was the “rock” upon which the church which Jesus built.

The church, being the “home” of those who trust God, has, as part of it’s structure, those qualities that Peter exhibited. That is why going into a church, a place of forgiveness, peace and beauty, can be a healing event, not just because the building is beautiful but because the people who form the church are hoping to demonstrate qualities that are loving, genuine and honest.

So if God is spirit and his home consists of spiritual “qualities”, and the structure and foundation are represented by people, we can understand how dynamic, alive and important each “person” is, because they are part of the structure of Love. Happiness, generosity, tolerance, determination, artistic ability, creativity, musical inclinations, innocence, purity, gentleness, humility, integrity, industriousness and more, are all included as important “pieces” that endure in this spiritual house of ideas.

There is no such thing as too many ideas about art, or too many feelings of joy, too much gratitude, or too much forgiveness. The people who represent these qualities exist for a reason in space and time and provide important structure, balance and harmony that is a living breathing expression of good.
No building, no matter how well built, can compare to the “house of the lord”, built on the “rock” of good people.
We can learn a lot about the mental state of others by the houses that people keep. For example, another sister and I met this lady, a potential dog caretakers for my sister’s pet, when she travels, and this lady has a beautiful new house, but on the kitchen counters are rows and rows of black plastic plant containers full of dead plants.
When this lady talked, she seemed sad and I felt like her house also seemed sad, but at the same time, she did seem to enjoy talking to us and wanted to help with the dog. Perhaps she is in the process of healing from some negative thinking.
In contrast, when I visited my other sister in Winston Salem, as I drove up to her home, the grass was a vibrant almost neon green, and the daffodils and tulips were bursting out of the ground. The house windows sparkled and were cheerful, and the white metal chair on the front porch had a hand painted pillow, welcoming people who stopped by. Her home is full of life, goodwill, and handmade, reclaimed and repurposed items that she has treasured over the years, as well as mementos of ongoing interactions from each of her six children.
Like her home, which is sturdy, strong and enduring, the structure of Love, I believe, is light, joy, blessedness, respect, ingenuity, peacefulness, laughter and more.

And if “home” is also a spiritual idea of valuable real estate in our thinking, are we only holding on only to those ideas presented to us from others that enhance our experience, and refusing to accept the “donations” that damage our peace of mind, our harmony, and our joy.

The necessary ideas or furniture that provide structure in our mental home and allow us to feel secure and happy, must have a purpose to serve us in a positive way, and uplift us, and if not, they cannot be allowed to take up space in our thinking. We DO have control of our mental “environment”. We are not sponges to negative or destructive thinking and can choose to reject any pieces of “furniture” taking up our mental space.
We get to choose what ideas we keep and what ideas we shut out. We are not in a war, where people are literally shooting at us, and where we physically have to be afraid for our lives. BUT, If our mental environment, is one where it feels like we are being bombarded with detrimental ideas that seem to cause fear, anxiety and hopelessness, LIKE we are in a war, we can and will SHUT THE DOOR, and stop allowing these thoughts our thinking.It is as simple as “changing the mental channel” of our thoughts.

If we even open the door, to all the “wrong thoughts” these thoughts will continue to bombard and try to convince us that they belong to us, but they, in fact, are like those books in the store that the owner did not want to keep for himself. We know what is good and true, and just like in math, we keep the one correct answer, and do not “ponder” or spend time thinking about all the WRONG ways to complete a math problem. All the wrong answers are out there, but why waste time thinking about them?

The bible describes Satan as “the great deceiver”, and the lies disseminated by Satan, cannot endure or sustain a home. The lies try to divide and destroy homes.

There is that question about the chicken and the egg and which came first, and it made me realize that Satan uses “distractions” to trick people into thinking about things that have nothing to do with the immediacy of life, love, healing and good works.
There was a guy at church, with a shirt on him that said “autistic” and it seemed that he “matched” with his behavior, what that shirt said. But I thought about Jesus healed lepers, and how he was pure, and performed things that seemed impossible, because the only ideas he accepted in his thinking about others whom he saw, were coming from God. He did not “see” disease, he saw perfection and that view was what healed others.

Jesus basically TELLS us, that we can be like him, which means we can heal ourselves and others, when we keep our thoughts on all that is good, and pure and holy about ourselves and others. When we protect and hold good thoughts in the valuable real estate of our minds, we can heal, we can experience joy, and we can have the multitudes following us.

If Jesus were alive today, I feel sure he would still have to get in a boat to talk to people because they would still be amazed, converted and protected, wanting to throng him. They would not be afraid, hopeless or angry because those thoughts do not uplift or benefit us. People today, who are so desperate for healing, and truth, and peacefulness, have the ability to bring those ideas into their mental home. Our home can reflect good, and our thinking can too. We can, like Jesus, choose to see good, and choose make positive impact on the world, and choose joy and be like little children, trusting. We are already saved! We just have to recognize this truth and run towards it, mentally.

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Melissa Ann Howell Schier

HoustonWorkout on YouTube, mom of five, journalist and artist and conservative who values life.