Love. It brings us to tears, it makes us angry, it makes us fight; it’s the reason for the silence, it causes us to laugh; it makes us sacrifice, and it always brings us to our knees. Love is probably mankind’s most talked about subject. We can’t escape it even if we tried. We are said to be creatures of love who is always seeking to be loved; it’s how we’re made and no amount of running away from our make-up, will make us otherwise.
While we live in a society that is almost obsessed with romantic love, we can hardly blame ourselves. The world is a lonely place for many people, especially in places where loneliness is an experience that one encounters more often than was intended for the human heart. In the words of Mother Theresa, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Perhaps because this is when people are most unlike themselves.
We have a great many substitutes for love in our society – so-called chemistry, passion, sex, sweet words, expensive gifts, and the list goes on. And while none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but are rather dependent on the context in which they take place, they do not satiate our human desire to experience love. Because love, I think, is more than just a feeling or an experience, but it is always an active-word, a verb; and one in which words like sacrifice and hope and paradoxically even pain, are not too far from.
The only love we have available to give to each other is imperfect love. And maybe that is why it still feels like suffering when we love, because it is part wonderful and part pain at the same time. And no amount of splendor in our love can take away the sacrifice, the agony, that we experience in love. Even in the greatness of love, we are ultimately at the mercy of each other’s imperfect humanity. Sometimes to the extent that we become uncertain that we are meant to love in the first place. And most dishearteningly, we begin to wonder whether we are worthy of love at all.
Yet in the nakedness of our bodies, despite their imperfections, despite what we think we look like; regardless of our flaws of character, our most undesirable aspects of who we are, and most importantly, the ways we constantly silence and shame the weakest parts of who we are, we are still always worthy of love. And yes, what is available to us from each other may be imperfect, but it does not make it any less necessary in surviving in the world, as creatures that are always and already meant to love.
And indeed, you are not just deserving of substitutes for love, you are deserving of suffering, sacrificing, caring, caressing, and beautiful human love. Dare I say, as I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere before, that maybe even the angels above envy us, because in spite of our imperfect humanity, we are still able to give each other great love and a great many kinds of love. And consequently, we are always worthy of receiving great love as well. Knowing this, why would anyone wish to live another way?
So when you find yourself in the silence of a miserable loneliness, even among great crowds of people; when you attempt to convince yourself that you are undeserving because of some mistake or bad choice or poor decision; when you have tirelessly searched and came up empty-handed, when you have been the very worst person you could be; when you look in the mirror and are uncertain about who you are and what you believe, even then, in fact, especially then, I dare you to hold onto the belief that you are still always worthy of love.