Love is the very core of Christianity. In love we can find its beginning, journey and consummation. We believe in a God whose very essence and identity is love. And in love, we can also find the highest meaning of our existence. It can be our greatest joy and deepest pain. Yet now, we can see that love has already been desecrated and devalued. Love is the most abused word in today’s world.
Thus, we must undertake the task to redeem the meaning of love. For it is only through love by which our fallen humanity can be redeemed. It is only through love by which we can know and experience God in this corrupted world. Love is the only way. It is the Lord’s sole mandate, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is the reason why He dwelt among us, to show us the paragon of true love. And He adds, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have, one for another.”
And so here is my poor attempt to redeem the meaning of love. Yes, words can never be enough for heart speaks to heart alone. Besides, I am also not an expert in love, I am still aspiring for that thing called true love. Yet I know a few things about God and it is by these guidelines through which I pray for love. Here are ten thoughts on that thing called true love.
- “Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est. (Wherever love is true, God is there).”
Love can only be true if it leads us to a greater love of God. Everyone we love must lead us closer to God. For only God alone can fulfill the deepest desires of our heart. We have always been thirsting for something complete, perfect and forever—these are attributes which can only be found in God. As St Augustine puts it: “You have made us for yourself Oh Lord and our hearts our restless until they rest in you.”
Hence, the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Then and only then can the love of our neighbor or a fellow human being, whoever he or she is, can follow. And if He is really our God, He deserves nothing less.
Our heart was created for God and it was created pure. It loved everything else just because of their semblance with the Creator. After the fall of humanity, the human heart has been wounded and it can be blinded, possessing things and peoples for the sake of themselves while seeking for that elusive complete, perfect, and eternal happiness in them. But after a while, the heart gets broken as it cannot find satisfaction for it craves for more and more.
So, to find true love, we must seek it first from God. And if for our greater happiness, He will make our heart bigger to love those whom He will bring to our lives.
- Love at insight, not at first sight.
Beware of those who believe in love at first sight, for it can only be lust at first sight. We cannot love someone whom we do not know. For love can only grow with knowledge. We do not love someone more or less than another, we just love him or her differently. Each person is unique and that unique personality solicits a unique response of love. That’s why only God can love us perfectly, for it is only God who has a perfect knowledge of us. So we must take time to know a person, for the more we know him or her, the greater will be our capacity to love them. For knowledge can only lead to understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance—three things that make love last a lifetime.
- Love can never be defined for it is love that defines us. It brings out the best of who we are and what we are truly capable of.
If love answers to our greatest need then Abraham Maslow must be right in saying that self-actualization is our highest need. If our love is indeed true, it must make us a better person. It perfects us and completes us. It motivates us to achieve our greatest potentials. It leads us to fullness of life.
There is a saying that goes that humans are created by God with a similarity with the angels—wings. But unlike the angels, humans have only one wing and so we must find another who is willing to fly with us and soar to the heavens together.
I believe that next to growing closer to God, becoming a wholier and a better person is the sign of true love.
- Love is not about falling in love but rather staying in love.
Love from its very beginning must not be based on feelings but rather on a choice, a decision that one must continuously make through thick and thin. Love must be anchored not on passion or intimacy but rather on commitment. It is a devotion, a pattern of decisions, sustained by action. Sustaining love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It is a task that requires effort day in and day out. Love is not that too magical. It follows certain rules.
As it is said, “God determines who walks into your life but it is up to you who will stay, who will walk away and who will you refuse to let go.”
- Love is never blind, it sees but it doesn’t mind.
We say sorry and forgive to the extent that we love. Because true love forgives and is forgiven all things. Many say that we must search for the right person to find true love. Nonetheless, it’s not really about finding the right person but rather on becoming the right person first for him or for her. It’s about realizing that our beloved can never be perfect nor the best but they can be perfectly true in giving their best. True love is not about perfecting a person but loving an imperfect person perfectly.
- It is true that love can conquer all, but always at the right time.
Love must not be given in expectation that it will be returned. For true love is never an investment. It is always a sacrifice. It always longs to give itself. Love itself is its own reward.
True love doesn’t need a happy ending for true love never ends. It does not need to be you-and-me-against-the-world story. For love, first and foremost, is a gift to be enjoyed, not a war to be fought. Remember that there is always a right time to truly love the right person.
- Love life. Live love.
Love is about living life to the full. The joy that comes from love is the enjoyment of life. Love and life are one in God. Thus, those who want to live truly must love truly. True love is on how your love and your life will fit together.
It is not true that when we love someone, nothing else in the world matters. In fact, everything in our world will matter a little more when we find true love.
- Fall in love with a person and not with love.
Love is about compromise and surrender. It must be anchored in what is real and not on what is ideal. Love is always for the whole person. We can only love persons, not idea. It is all or nothing. We do not love by degrees or by part. We can fall because of a beautiful hair, a cute dimple, or an angelic face but we cannot marry them. We can only love a person, the whole person.
- Love is two hearts that beat as one.
To love is to place your happiness in the happiness of another. It’s about desiring and choosing what’s best for our beloved, despite of all our own desires, pains and needs. Because as the Venerable Fulton Sheen puts it: “There are only two words in the vocabulary of love: You and Forever.”
- God is love but love is not god.
Our love for our beloved cannot be and must not be a substitute for God. We can never love our beloved more than the love that God has for him or for her. We can never be loved by anyone with love greater than the love of God. Thus, we must always learn from the love of God. And we can only learn from God by loving Him. And what we love, we shall grow to resemble.
True love can only be true because of God. God comes to us through those we love. So we must always love with God. Thus, it takes three to love because we must involve God in our experience. And the truest confession of love is this: “God loves you, and so do I.” It is the fulfillment of His mandate: “Love one another as I have loved you.”