Is there anything more thrilling, more satisfying, more life-giving than love? It is love alone that makes us dream, makes us believe in the transcendent, and sets us free. But for as beautiful as this mighty force is and for as selflessly as we would like to live it out, it is also love that makes us vulnerable and can lead us to question the very core of our being.
Whether we put it into words or not, we can find ourselves asking, “Am I loved? Lovable? Worthy of love?” Directly related and perhaps more often unexplored is the question, “Is the love that I have to give any good? Is it worth anything? Am I capable of loving, and loving well?” For we are made not only to receive, but also to give love.
Questions in the hearts and minds of the husband entering his 46th year of marriage, the teenager struggling to make friends at her new school, the man in his thirties who after a breakup debates whether or not to go back to online dating, the mother who feels her child growing more and more distant from her.
Love may seem a daunting task for it involves the infinite mystery of the other, and indeed the infinite mystery of the self. There is so much that we cannot fully understand, fully control.
Sometimes the love which flows from the depths of our being does not, cannot reach its desired destination. Sometimes our so much is met with so little, or nothing at all: a quick “hello” when we’d like a whole afternoon, a handshake when we’d like an embrace, a calm indifference when we’d like a passionate interest and reciprocity, an absence when we’d like an abiding presence.
Still other times, it may seem that our heart places obstacles in the way of love’s free flow. “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” we might say, or “I don’t want to deal with the pain.” And other times, frankly, we may not really know what we want from our own desires. “Do I actually want to enter a serious relationship with this person?” Such realities may lead us to question the worthiness of our desire to love. Is it flawed? Is there something wrong with my heart, with me? And this is a heavy burden that can easily lead to despair.
True, we can always fine tune the way we receive and give love by respecting its force and its unpredictability, by accepting our desires and those of the other, by keeping in mind our freedom and that of the other. Life can show us. But we must always strive to hold dear our desire and ability to love. Perhaps the best way of keeping hope alive is by keeping our eyes fixed on that original love from which we came and to which we are called, the one which made us from love and for love.
What a gift this is.