What is it to love another fully? We use the word unconditional as a descriptor for a loving relationship, but I wonder if the word selfless is the better descriptor and the higher path to full communion with another. In any relationship we will hurt one another, disappoint and be disappointed because when you care for someone it comes with expectations, hopes, needs. To love fully means you are fully invested in the life of another, fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses without exploiting (or reminding them) of either, fully invested in their successes and failures, fully invested in what others think of them, fully invested in the strength of your union, and fully aware of when that union is shaken.
Single and 43, I will never claim to be an expert in matters of love. Full communion with another for more than a few years has eluded me, but love has not eluded me. It's easy to love, harder to live out that love. My approach to relationships is often very practical before it is emotional--this is the rational side of my brain at work. I am almost never attracted to the physical aspect of any man before I am attracted to his brain and his heart. “What good is the beautiful package if the contents are ugly,” I say in my head. That's not to say that I don't appreciate physical beauty, but it’s all subjective isn't it?
I know some women who get upset with men who say they like tall thin women for instance. That's like getting upset with a man for liking the color green or lasagna or The Rolling Stones. Taste is what it is--a preference. So no one can get upset with me for liking intellectual, sensitive and articulate men...that is my preference.
Love is the subject of most songs, much art, literature, plays, novels...it is pursued with great fervor and paraded with much pomp and circumstance. Americans in particular seem to be in love with love. The wedding industry and greeting card makers alone profit every minute from our love of love. But in the trenches anyone in love knows that love for the sake of love is short term. Selfless love is the kind that lasts and the kind that requires one to first acknowledge that God loves us fully and we did nothing to deserve it. In other words, love starts with humility. To understand God’s love means we’re more likely to be understanding and accepting of others--it is the higher path, the narrower path and the less traveled, but it makes all the difference.
I must examine my heart daily—I am not the giving, selfless person I’d love to be and a daily moment before my heavenly cardiologist shows me how clogged my arteries are with the gunk of being earthly minded.
Do it: Ask God to unclog the arteries of your heart so you can be free flowing in all that He desires for you.
Ponder it: “Age does not protect you from love but love to some extent protects you from age.” -- Jeanne Moreau