A Lifelong Lesson in Love
1. The Object of Love – From the moment we enter this world as children we are helpless and defenseless, completely dependent on our parents. It is in this initial phase of life that we experience love. As babies we are the object of love and affection, not just from our own parents, but from just about everyone who lays eyes on us. Who can resist but to smile at a newborn baby? They are pure, innocent, perfect. Everyone wants to hold us and talk to us and make us laugh and smile. We are not judged by our personalities or beliefs, we are simply loved.
In our spiritual life, the first and most important step we must take is to acknowledge and believe that God loves us more than we can imagine.
2. Loving Ourselves – As we grow through childhood and become teenagers our personalities have been fairly developed and who we are becomes more apparent, even if we don’t know it yet. The river of love that flowed so freely from the world has been damned up and we acknowledge the false notion that we must earn the affection of others. The struggle of this phase is to learn not only to accept ourselves, but to love ourselves. We can’t expect anyone else to love us if we don’t love ourselves—not for what we do, but for who we are.
3. Looking for Love – Through self-acceptance, we have come to love ourselves for who we are. For most of us, it is at this point that the search for a spouse ensues. There is a need and natural desire growing within us to love outwardly, to give of ourselves to another. We are created for community. We want to love and be loved. Marriage is the union between one man and one woman, who commit themselves to each other in a life-long union.
Even those who feel called to celibacy, continue to be a part of a community, giving of themselves in other ways. A priest is married to the Church, the people of God. He commits his entire life to the service of the flock.
The Blessed Trinity is the model of community. Three persons in one God.
4. Love is Procreative – When we show and give love, it has a profound effect on others. Through the free gift of love—of ourselves—to our spouse in the marital embrace, our love not only effects, but it creates! The love of a husband and a wife for each other is so powerful that a child is formed. Sex is more than just the giving and receiving of physical pleasure, it’s a spiritual union.
On the cross, Jesus laid down His life, giving of Himself for us. His sacrifice was an act of love and His love is so strong that it gives us new life.
Realizing that my life is ordered at learning how to love as God loves, has had a profound impact on the way I approach things. The world would have me believe that life has no purpose and that my existence was an universal anomaly, or even an accident. I disagree. I know and believe that my life has a purpose and that I am on a journey. As I progress I learn more and more how to love as I am prepared, with all of the people of God, to spend eternity with He who loved me into existence.