What Is Love?

I should tell you all that the words that find their way into these Daily Devotions are hardly the words I reflect on in my journaling, writing, and rambling to myself.  

Trust me, you don't want to see most of those words.  

They lack rhyme or reason most of the time, and more often than not, they tend to be questions that I have no answers for or diatribes about why I don't have the answers to said questions. 

But occasionally, I find myself reflecting on an idea I can't figure out to any satisfaction: Love. 

As I write this, a song from the early 90s by a forgettable one-hit-wonder artist named Haddaway comes to mind--a song that contained the incessant question, "What Is Love?"

[Now that song is playing on repeat in my head and probably in the heads of more than a few of you.] 

After living 54 years, I have concluded that no matter how many times Haddaway asks me that question in the song, I can't give him a good answer.  This is not to say that I don't have some thoughts, though. 

Let me share a quote from Fr. Anthony de Mello that I wrote down once that sums up some of my notions about love.  In the paragraph preceding this quote, de Mello talks about how terrifying it is for us to understand love, and then he says this: 

And that is why love is so terrifying, for to love is to see, and to see is to die.  But it is also the most delightful exhilarating experience in the whole world.  For in the death of the ego is freedom, peace, serenity, and joy.  

What Fr. Anthony means when he says, "for love is to see, and to see is to die," is basically this:  

To truly see another means that you see them as they are in all of their frailty, beauty, and brokenness, and in that seeing, you also glimpse something of yourself and what it will take for you to be fully alive and present with them.  

Essentially, you are confronted with the truth that to be fully present and alive with others, you must let go of your ego, pride, and the ways you may hold the world at arm's length.  

I need to be clear: this isn't about becoming something you are not or denying your identity, silencing your voice, or becoming less of who God means for you to be.  If another demands this of you, that's not love. 

Instead, this is about becoming more of who you are, living more fully into your best self while letting go of the ego that keeps you from being who you were meant to be and experiencing the kind of love that God longs for you to experience.  

Jesus once told his followers something tough to hear.  

"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23, ESV)

That wasn't the only difficult thing that Jesus said to his followers, but it's pretty high on the list of the most challenging things. 

Jesus tells his followers that if they are willing to die to themselves daily and "take up their cross" (the ego, the self that gets in the way of being fully human), they will discover more about themselves and their capacity for love. 

Beloved, may you find the courage to love.  May you let go of all the ways your ego has kept you from fully living into your most authentic self.  May it be so.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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