One of God’s greatest gifts to his children is the capacity to love as he loves. Through the power of procreation and the establishment of the family, he has created an incubator wherein we can see and learn how to share true love. From this realm, one can take such love and build life-long friendships, even eternal relationships. Such love has created and sustained thriving communities and nations throughout the ages. It has even changed the outcome of wars against formidable forces.
The question is, what is true love?
As a child, I felt unconditional love from the people around me, but I did not appreciate it. As a young boy of 16, I thought I knew what love was. But, I was wrong. I thought when I first met my wife that I then knew what true love was. But I didn’t.
I am not saying a person whose 16 or one about to be married cannot know love. I am saying that one cannot fully comprehend true or unconditional love until one has sacrificed all for another’s needs while relegating their self-interest and well-being to those whom they serve.
A perfect example of such love is a mother and father who care for their newborn child. Another example is a nurse who risks catching Covid-19 while comforting a terminally illness patient to ensure they don’t die alone. Or finally, a woman who loses a child to crib death and, while struggling with such loss, reaches out to another woman overwhelmed with newborn twins. It is here that you find the true meaning of God’s love or unconditional love.
As my children have grown, I feel the joy and happiness and the heartache and pain they suffer in their relationships. I feel the pain of their mistakes and the happiness and joy of their successes.
Several years ago, while watching one of my children struggle, I felt I was going through the same burden with them. At that moment, I realized God feels the same way about me when I am happy or sad. I realized how hard it must be for God to watch his children struggle. To watch his child suffer the pains of cancer brought on by a temporal body in an environment of sustained chaos. Or watch his child suffer at the hands of his other children, who are ignorant or who have become maliciously violent. Yet, he allows all of this to happen because he genuinely loves each of us. He and knows it is required for us to love and know him.
I have learned that love brings great joy and great sorrow in life’s experiences. Those feelings of emotion are an integral part of true love, and they are the barometer of how much we cared for and unconditionally loved another.
I have also learned when you come to love another truly, you judge them far less. Instead, you try to understand that person’s thoughts and what their perspective is. You learn empathy, pity, and patience. And in all of this, you start to feel a sense of joy and happiness, as you realize that there is a God overhead who loves you, no matter what. It is then that you start to want to love everyone the same way, no matter who they are. That is true love.
So on this Valentine’s Day, reach out to those who have shown you true unconditional love and express your gratitude for them. Then, take their loving example and reach out to those who need your love. If you do, you may find this Valentine’s Day is different from any other in the past not because of what you gave or received, but because of whom you have become.