Lessons on Love

I know that I’m messed up in many ways, but particularly in the area of love. I frequently think and feel that I have no value, sometimes even that I am not quite a person. Spiritually sick, I know. I’m working on it, but I’m not really sure how to go about getting better. For me, my worth and my loveableness (is that a word? well, it is now!) are entirely wrapped up in how useful I am to others. I have been so deeply mired in the culture of death that wrong-thinking follows me everywhere and colors all of my interactions, as I suspect it does for many people, if they really critically look at how they relate with others. But sadly, most people do not think and do not really examine their actions and thoughts except on a superficial level.

Don’t think that I am exempt from this! Ha! But, I want to work on going deeper than just superficial things to really attack the heart of the matter. I don’t want to be sick, but I suppose that I can’t keep my head in the sand when it comes to my sins and the various ways in which I just don’t get it.

It is pretty much safe to say that I am messed up, topically, on anything that has to do with the Theology of the Body. It’s very hard to give a gift of yourself when you don’t think that your self is anything worth giving. If I am nothing important, than giving me to someone else isn’t that great of a gift.

Okay, that’s definitely a work in progress, and one that is just beginning at that. On to love, since that topic is intermeshed in the whole Theology of the Body topic. Obviously, I need a lot of help to learn what it means to truly love another person as God loves. Sure, I’ve had experience with the warm fuzzies, and with wanting good things for others, but to truly love as God loves, it needs to go beyond that.

Truly, thanks be to God, for He is helping me with this. It has long been the case, (or at least nearly as long as I’ve been Catholic, so about a year and a half or so) that I’ve felt that God has given me a specific person to teach me what it means to love another. I didn’t want to like this person, much less love him. I would have been perfectly happy to avoid this person and interact with him on a need-only basis. Nothing against the person at all, but I was uncomfortable in his presence and a little frightened of him — for no reason — and had made up my mind to minimize interaction.

Well, we all know what happens when we tell God our plans. I think He’s still laughing at me.

So, God made it so that I came to love this person. He is my example and my lesson. It isn’t just that by watching how he interacts with people that I learn what it is like to give of yourself to others, even though he is a good example in his own actions as far as I can tell. But it is more that God has so put him on my heart, that I can’t help but learn, despite how messed up I am. Believe me when I say that I can objectify anyone and take anyone for granted and be as mean and self-centered as anyone else. Except with this person.

And, because I am just that sick, I tried. That’s right, I’ve tried to see if I could think bad things or fantasize inappropriately or something like this. Not that I particularly wanted to sin, or to invite temptation or anything — that wasn’t my intention — but I didn’t know what this was and I wanted, I suppose, to probe the depths of my sickness and see just how sick I was. “Am I **this** bad??” But no. Yes, with other people, there is no end to my imagination. But with this person, I cannot go there. I try to think of these things, and the thought just slips away from me like a greased bubble. What an awesome grace that is! Truly! I wish I had that for everyone! I was concerned, too, for a while that I had some sort of sick obsession or fixation, but this has absolutely nothing to do with romantic love and doesn’t have a selfish aspect to it that I can tell. It doesn’t have anything to do with what I can “get” from the relationship. I am just thrilled with the fact that he exists. And how wonderful it is to know that even through death, there is the possibility of seeing that person again in Heaven. Assuming that I make that Purgatory cut-off.

For this person, I always want what is good for him, even if that is not what is also good for me. I have true concern for him and he is the only person that I automatically pray for every day. Not that there aren’t other people that I pray for every day, because I do have several people that I pray for on a daily basis.  The difference is, for this person, it’s not something that I think about. I can’t help but pray for him daily. It’s not a burden or a box to check or an afterthought or a list or anything like that, but a concern to make sure that God knows to take care of this person. I am constantly bringing him before the Lord in prayer. God probably laughs at me for that, too. 🙂

Truly, Thank You, Lord, for this. If I am paying attention, I can try to catch myself in my interactions with others and substitute this other person to see if my actions and thoughts are truly loving. If I would react differently, then I know that I am being less than truly loving, and that I need to adjust what it is that I am doing.

So, what prompts me to write all of this today?  Not really for the sake of telling you all this.  Actually, it is quite embarrassing to me. I think people will take it the wrong way, or think that I do have some weird, disordered attachment. So, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t say anything. But, this morning, I think I was taught another lesson, and if I am to relate that to you, then I needed to give you some background. Sorry it took so long, but that’s the way I roll. 🙂

Not too long ago, I was in a conversation with a group of people, and the topic eventually came around to this person. Nothing was said which was bad, and everyone there truly liked and cared for this person, but for some reason it was unsettling to me. I didn’t really have anything to contribute to the conversation, and was mostly listening, and maybe, somehow that was worse. Like I was hearing things I didn’t need to hear. Again, not that I was hearing dark secrets or anything like that, but just — I don’t know — personal things that either should come from him directly, or not at all. It was a passing feeling that I managed to brush off. Feelings come and go, and I know that the people there loved him as well, so it must just be that I was being silly, because it was all benign.

Then, this morning on the way to Mass, I was recalling this conversation, and for whatever reason, I just felt heartsick about it and felt like I should apologize to him. For exactly what, I wasn’t sure, but it felt a little bit like…a violation, perhaps. Ooh, just typing that sounds so harsh. And it wasn’t like that. Don’t think anything bad about the people in the conversation. I think it has much less to do with them, because their comments really were benign, and more to do with the fact that God is using (again) this person in this situation to teach me a lesson about love.

It has been said that if you truly love a person, then you have an infinite desire to know everything about that person. I know that is true for me, but this felt like the wrong way to go about getting information. Again, completely benign, but it cut that person out of it. If love is to have a relationship with another person, than some information should come out of interaction with that person directly. Kind of like if I decide to have a relationship with a particular saint, and I research the saint and talk to people about that saint, but never actually engage that saint in conversation or pray to him or her. There’s something wrong with that interaction. Not that the research or the conversation about the saint was bad, but that there was something lacking. An absence of intimacy. Or a detachment which shouldn’t be there.

A lesson to me that a person is not a thing to be loved, but a person to be loved — which is a particular lesson for me. Let me say again, how truly glad I am that I God gave me this person, and that He is using him in this way. Please, Lord, bless him and keep him in Your love.

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