|Hand woven crosses in our prayer corner|
Fr. David, in his final podcast from Afghanistan, enunciated clearly something I’ve thought of writing about for some time: lessons on love and letting go. It’s been a painful life lesson, but a necessary one in my spiritual growth and so, I’m thankful for it. Perhaps now that some time has passed and my perspective is better, it’s worth sharing.
I have learned, in a very intense way, over the past 5 years that I do not love others as I should. Christ tells us to love others as ourself and to even love our enemies. But what does that mean exactly? How easy it is to love those who love us back... and how difficult is it to love those who do not love us in return. I am speaking of relationships and friendships in particular. I’m talking about how good it is to share our life with one we trust and confide in, the joy that comes with being understood and nurtured by others’ words and actions. And the pain that comes when all that ends...abruptly and without explanation. Maybe you’ve been there.
Listening to Fr. David this morning and analyzing the events in my own life, I feel as though this lesson has come full circle for me. I pray it’s one I don’t forget and choose rather to learn from it and grow because of the wisdom within. In my experience, I learned that I was loving other people, but with strings attached. I wanted something in return, I wanted to have my needs met, too. My need for companionship and being heard. And when they weren’t, I felt hurt and disappointed...and even angry. And it made me question the motives of my heart: Did I really love and care about this person at all? Or was it a purely selfish relationship? Caring just enough so that my own needs were met?
I realized that our feelings can be deceptive and that sometimes God crosses our paths with others for a very specific purpose. If we have our eyes fixed upon that, upon Him, then we are less deceived by the ever changing currents of our hearts. When we truly love another person, as Christ intends, there are no strings attached. It’s selfless and kind...generous and peaceable....expecting nothing in return. How many of us truly love like that? I want to love like that...but I know it’s attainable only by the grace of God. I’m not equipped for it, as I am a very weak vessel. Through Christ, though, all things are possible. I have realized the peace that comes on the other side of pain, the clarity that comes with wisdom and of love born from the eternal source of love, Christ Jesus our God.
This lesson, too, has deepened my love for the Prayer of St. Francis, whereby I am encouraged to seek to console rather than being consoled, to understand rather than to be understood. It’s complete selflessness. It's loving fully, but lightly...being willing to share and give and comfort and then let go. It’s having your cup filled with the grace of God so that you have something to give another, not wanting nor expecting anything in return.