God is love, and that's enough.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

At age 23, I’ve realized I’m in the midst of a moment in life in which there’s a great emphasis on love and relationships. It’s been, and continues to be, a beautiful experience to witness so many of my friends dating, getting engaged, getting married, and starting families. I’ve been blessed to know couples at seemingly every stage of love, including couples who’ve been married for years (such as my parents, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in January).

I write about a lot of things - religion, politics, my terrible driving record - but something I’ve consistently written about in my personal life and rarely (if ever) shared publicly is this one - the topic of love.

Love, in the general sense (by this, I mean not only romantic love but also familial love, friendship love, etc.), is a pretty profound thing. Our secular society is wholly consumed by it, which I believe speaks heavily to our innate nature as human beings to desire it. Love is a lawless beast; there are no real guidelines a person can follow to obtain it, there’s not any restriction on who can give or receive it, and there’s no special formula or recipe for predicting it. Love plays by its own rules, and the rules are ever-changing.

But there’s a remarkable, definitive truth in the midst of all of this that I really love (pun intended): it’s that people are totally, completely, utterly screwed up - and by people, I mean everyone. As a human race, we are just a big fat mess. We live in a fallen world and we’re fallen as a result. In turn, we’re all just kind of stumbling around in the dark, hoping we’ll get lucky and do something right. But even in our helplessly fallen state, we still have this amazing capacity to give and receive love.

I spent the last 24 hours with one of my best friends, her boyfriend, and their siblings (her brothers, his sister). More than once, I found myself moved by gestures of love between my friend and her boyfriend, and gestures of love that each of them shared with their siblings. These are two people who have real love in their lives. I’m so grateful to be a part of that.

So as I reflected on this during my drive home this morning, I thought back to a moment in college when a priest told me that love is sometimes not enough. In so many words, his message to me was that while love feels wonderful, it is not a lifeline. He said that while love bears relationships, it cannot sustain them. At the time, I recognized this piece of advice as wisdom. Today, I feel differently.

God is love. It’s really that simple. If this is true, and if we live our lives as though this is true, how could love not be enough? Real love is not the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you’re cuddling on the couch with your significant other. Real love is self-sacrificing. To really love someone is to die to oneself at any given moment, if for the good of the beloved. Love, in its purest, most perfect form, is the manifestation of our Lord. Our God IS love. So how could love not be enough?

Mother Teresa once said that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love - and who’d know better than she, someone who spent her entire life loving the poor, loving the sick, loving the rejected, loving the unloveable.

So I say to that priest today: you’re wrong. Because God is love. So call me naive, call me foolish, write me off as having had little life experience, what have you. Nevertheless, I’m a big believer in following your heart. And I think the Beatles got it right when they said that all we need is love.

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