How Hard is Love? ®
(A Work in Progress)
Written by: Stacey R. Louiso
The most natural of spiritual gifts we are born with, is love. Yet love seems to be one of the most difficult gifts to give and receive. We hear many adjectives used to describe love in its intensity, from glorious to painful, to all points in between, below and above.
But why is this? I mean really, how hard is love?
Apparently it is tedious for many people. It seems the hardest love to accomplish is love of self. In a culture of instant gratification, cosmetic fixes and weakened morals…it has become increasingly difficult to “know thyself.” Not only to know, but like or love oneself as a whole person. People have become so caught up in their “profile” and perfectionism, that the actual ability to have self and spiritual love seems to be vanishing.
Love is defined in many ways and can take many shapes such as deep affection, profound tenderness and passion or desire, towards another person or even an object. But for the sake of this discussion we are speaking only of the love of self (a God like love): A spiritual, positive, emotion we gift to ourselves, and to others.
I witnessed a testimony recently, which led to me to the question, “how hard is love?” This instance occurred during a women’s study group at my church, where we were studying a closely related topic. One of the older women in the room was talking about her walk and about parenting. Although she probably had no clue anyone was paying close attention to her words, one thing in particular sparked me to comment and moved me to react introspectively.
The comment made came after she had described a trip she took to Hawaii to visit her daughter. She talked about how she had been in pain. Out of love, her daughter was administering massage and she described how well the daughter took care of her. When it came time for this woman to leave Hawaii, her daughter was overcome with emotion because she didn’t want her mother to leave. The woman said she felt so much guilt (for reasons OTHER than the fact she was leaving) and that “love is so painful.”
The woman telling this story was weeping as other’s also reacted to her story, but I just sat there dumbfounded at her expression: This woman obviously loved her children but had some deep secret or wound she wouldn’t share.
I heard her murmur, “But you don’t know what I did, I don’t deserve their love.”
The next week, I sat a couple chairs down from her and once again, she spoke out about one or more of her children, and once again she said she felt so much guilt for what her children go through. She said, “Only God knows what I did and that is how it is to remain.” Yet again, she expressed that she was not a good mother and didn’t deserve her children’s love.
This time I could not just sit idly by and say nothing…
I reached my hand down the table and took hers. I introduced myself and mentioned that I really felt her pain in the last class. I said, “Having a mother, myself, who was not always ‘perfect’ did not make me love her less. Whatever guilt you have over whatever you have done, your children were obviously able to forget or forgive…and love you. Please, please forgive yourself and happily accept their love, as it is a gift and you are a gift them.
She started to cry. I started to cry. The woman sitting between us, started to cry. But, she said, ‘thank you, you are so kind to say this…and you are probably right. I appreciate your caring enough to say it’. (I later found out one of her sons, is an Associate Pastor at our church. I went to say hello to her one Saturday night at service and another one of her sons was sitting there with her. I said, “I feel like I know you as much as she talks about all of you.” His reply, “Yes, I know. I love her so much!”)
I think about this moment and how it affected me. I don’t know exactly what a perfect mother is supposed to be, but a truly loving mother is perfect enough to me. No, no one knows how to love perfectly; but if we trust our love to God, show God’s ideal of love, then how hard can it truly be?
That is the quest I am on: I want to explore this conundrum. I want the world to sing in perfect harmony…okay, that may not happen but just maybe we can all find some solutions, together.
It was ironic, the day I was scribbling about the aforementioned woman’s story in my journal, a Blackberry smart-phone commercial was ringing out The Beatles “All You Need is Love”…somebody there has it right! (Hey, modern times mean modern connections and relational thinking. Right?)