Love is a funny thing. I’m speaking of true unconditional love as described by St. Paul in 1 Corinithians 1:
The Gift of Love
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
When you love a person this way it is strikingly different from the way love is portrayed in modern American society. It means that you want them to win, even if it means you lose. It means you want their happiness, even if it costs you your own. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for those I love. I am devoted, loyal, supportive, and accepting of all of who they are, even when they make mistakes or do things that wound me out of fear or self protection. I can’t help myself. I look at them and I see them inside, vulnerable, lovable, beautiful and I only want to protect and love them. To comfort and hold them. I feel a sea of light inside of me that is so deep with my capacity for love… and granted it’s true the pain I suffer at rejections and losses is likewise enormous, but the sea is deep enough to absorb that agony as well. That ocean wells from my love and devotion to God and from his love for me. It is the core of who I am.
Sometimes when we love someone this way, the only gift we can give them is our absence. Occasionally we know why, but other times we don’t. And when you love and your only desire is to shower your love upon the people you adore, to never see them, to no longer share any part of their life is the worst pain. It is loss and grief and suffering. But it is a sacrifice I continue to make as needed… often with no understanding of why. I simply continue to hold my love for them in my heart, a flame that I will always keep burning and watch as they silently drift into my past.