I heard a homily once about how God loves us too much to simply leave us where we are. I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last few days, not only how God loves us too much to leave us where we are but how love is meant to change us.
Love of all kinds – be it family, romantic or divine – is meant to change us, to move us beyond who we are towards who we are to become, towards Saints. Love, it is often said, is the most powerful force in all the world. It can wake a sleeping beauty, it motivates people to fight wars to protect those they love, it lifts us up, encourages us, fills us with hope and so much more. Love isn’t just about the big things – going off to war, waking the sleeping beauty – it is about what it does to and for us each and every day.
I recently told Mr. Irish that love works when people have the other person’s best interests and happiness at heart, that way neither one of the people in that relationship have to be selfish. What I failed to realize is that I didn’t have his best interests at heart. It took a nice big metaphorical slap to the face to realize that my love for him wasn’t as true as it should have been or could have been. My love wasn’t moving me to become a better person, it had become an excuse to demand and require things of our relationship. I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t pretty and I’m not proud of the person I had become. What I’ve come to realize in the days following that metaphorical slap to the face is that love is supposed to change us, it doesn’t just leave us where we are. My love for Mr. Irish changes me and it changes me for the better. It changes me into a person who is less selfish and more other-focused. The love we have for each other changes us, it allows us to grow together, to lean on each other and to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be. For a long time I thought that this love would come along and we would just magically meet up and go on down the yellow brick road of life together. What I’m coming to realize, however painfully beautiful it may be, is that it isn’t always that easy. This love, wonderful as it is, has come along and is challenging me to change, to grow, to evolve and to be a holier person. I can walk away and not accept the challenge or I can take the good (the love) with the bad (the diffculity of being challenged and changing). I can also recognize that what I perceive as bad – because I can be so stubborn – can really be a good thing, especially if it gets me closer to Heaven. The choice is mine to make.
The same is true (as it all too often is) with our relationship with God. The love I have for God changes me, and it changes me for the better. It challenges me to see the sin in my life and to work to become a better, holier person. Love works with God when I learn to become Him-centered, and believe you me, that is no easy task. God is Love and therefore is always other-focused. He always has my best interests and happiness at heart and our relationship flourishes when I strive to please Him and it flounders when I become self-centered. The love that flows between God and I allows me to grow, to lean on Him more and to become the best version of myself. God, in His infinite perfection, does not need to grow or lean on me and He already is the best version of Himself.
Love, in all of its forms, is meant to change us. The only question that remains is whether or not we will let it.