This summer has been a segment of life which has gone by very quickly, and yet has been marked by many important milestones. It has been the type of summer to which I think I will look back in the future. Many lessons and ideas can be drawn from it. Yet, if I were to bring it all down under one word, I would say it was for me a rediscovery of the reality and power of the christian notion of love.
It seems that the human soul is designed in such a way that living without love is impossible. We are built in such a way that we always seek, and in fact, need to be accepted and embraced. Yet the great trouble is that despite that fact that love is something that we all seek, it is not something that we are all able to give. The vast majority of the pain and brokenness that fills life is related to inability of those in our lives to give us the unconditional love that we seek.
Although love is the source of some of the greatest joys in life, it is also the source of some of the greatest pain. We run through our daily lives, staying busy, looking professional and purposeful. And yet, very often we are merely trying to help ourselves forget the challenges that are brewing under the surface. During the last couple of months I have come to numerous instances where I am face to face with my own limitedness and weakness.
Love is easy to define. So easy, in fact, that we forget how utterly impossible it is.
We surround ourselves with the people that we like, those who accept us and bring us joy. We have such warm and fuzzy feelings when we are around those who embrace us and stick with us through thick and thin. These are the people with whom we are vulnerable, honest and real. These are the people that help us deal with whats inside. These are the people that we want to bring joy to.
We think we love.
And yet what happens when one who is closest to us turns on us? How do we react when someone we trust stabs us in the back? Where is our love when all the lines of a cherished relationships are ignored and broken? Indeed, those whom we most deeply “love” can, rather quickly, become those whom we most deeply hate.
Real love is the unconditional investment of self to seeking the greatest joy of the other. Unconditional. That is a big word. And yet, love is not real without it. Without it, love is a mere exchange, a payment. If we are honest with ourselves, this is in essence how we live.
We seek the well being and joy of those who love us in return. Yet, even in the moments when our hearts are full of love and desire to do good to some, there are always those in whom we despise, whom we resent, whom we would rather not think about. The very presence of hate, frustration or anger in our hearts is proof that our love is always conditional.
As long as there are those in our hearts whom we do not love, we can know that our love for anyone in our lives is only based on certain terms. Terms which, if they are broken, will break our love as well. Those who take from us our time, resources, reputation and energy, and yet give nothing in return are not worthy of our sacrifice. If they only take from us, we will only take from them. This is the root of the vast majority of conflict and pain, is it not?
If our love was real, then there would be no one in our lives who we did not love. By its nature, love is a constant reality which does not pick and choose.
At the end of the day, we come back to where we started. Why can’t we truly love? Because we need it ourselves. You cannot give something away if you are in desperate need of it yourself. As long as our own soul is longing for love, our lives will always be stuck in the torturous process of give and take.
What then is the answer? I am a husband, a future father, a person who has responsibilities, a person some people depend on. Where do I get the ability to truly love? How do I know I won’t crumble some day? These are the questions I have been asking myself, questions which I will be expanding on in the next few posts.
One thing is for certain. If there is any hope for real love, it must come from outside our human relationships. It must come from someone greater, someone who is outside this terrible struggle of give and take.