Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Love's Paradox

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." 
~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

This is one of the quotes attributed to Mother Teresa that has for a long time inspired in me a deep contemplation. In this world we are so often wounded by what we think is love, that to consider the possibility that to love beyond hurt into more love can be mystifying. The trouble is not with our ability to love to that point, but with our understanding of love...and by "our," I mean "my." Why point fingers?

Again, the word and concept of love is so distorted by our society, that it takes deeper contemplation and an inbreaking of our loving God to understand what Mother Teresa means here. She isn't talking about the hurt of neglect and abuse, of getting walked all over, of one sided relationships (though one could argue they're included in this). What she is referring to is the emptying, self-sacrificial love of Christ - a love that I could not comprehend until I had children, and even then can only scratch the surface of in my own brokenness and selfishness.

I remember in graduate school my mentor/supervisor/friend was having her second child. She was so worried how she would love a second one as much as her first. I have always believed love to be infinite, so I assured her it was possible, not having any firsthand experience as a mother or a sibling, of course. While she shared that my theory was quite correct, it wasn't until now that theory got put into practice. When I look at both my children, I am amazed at the degree of love - of self-forgetting love - that I feel. Now, when I'm tired or hungry, or they're getting on my last nerve, (or enter a myriad of other excuses here), sometimes that selflessness disappears, but then I look at each of them and can't fathom loving either of them any less.

I know, you linguists will argue that you can't have more than one favorite. The grammar snob in me might agree, in addition to not being able to have more than one best friend (if she's the best, then she's the best, right??). While we may be correct grammatically, the heart and soul do not always function within grammar's rules. I do, indeed, have two favorite children...and more than one best friend while we're at it. They each have my whole heart, and good/bad days aside, I would give my whole life for them both. I just need to work at putting that into practice now in the small ways instead of speaking theoretically about the martyr's way...

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