How to express love
Everyone needs love. A life that lacks love is a life incomplete. Only the warmth of love can be powerful enough to make a soul fully happy. To see how attractive love is, we don’t even need to look at the human relation because the human is the creature that has love, we only need to watch the reaction of a dog or a cat to see how they naturally get attracted to someone who has a gentle expression toward them.
A normal person with a normal state of being has a normal need which is to express the love in his/her heart toward the one he/she loves. The nature of true love is good, beautiful and sacred. However, there is a regretful phenomenon happening in our daily life: the expression of love at times makes the person who is cared for upset, uncomfortable, disappointed…. After the expression of love, both sides feel emotionally ‘heavier’ than before. Why is it like this?
There is a man who discovered this phenomenon and began to explore its cause. He looked back at his journey with concrete cases. A year ago, he called his friend.
“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m good. Thanks. How about you?”
“I’m so so. Long time no see. Just call to see how you are doing. You must have been very busy huh?”
“Actually, my work has been less occupying lately.”
“Well, really? Why didn’t you give me a call? I am always the one who call you first. Or is it that you now have many fans that you no longer remember this friend?…”
His friend felt uncomfortable about the call while it should have been friendly and joyful. He himself also felt sad.
Another time, a few months ago, he went for a coffee with his colleague. In their conversation, his friend asked him about the construction project he was running with confidence. One does not know what his friend told him but after that conversation he got very upset because he did not feel encouraged, and he even had the intention not to share his business with this friend anymore.
A few weeks ago, there was a tension between him and his niece. He loved her and often took care of her very carefully, even more than a caregiver or babysitter: “Don’t wear that shirt. It’s not beautiful.”, “Stop talking to him since I don’t feel his sincerity”, “You must drink a lot of milk, you must take food regularly, you must…”,… That day, the niece reacted: “Oh dear, I am already 20 years old, not a kid anymore!” He immediately got angry, saying: “That’s because I care for you. If you were no relative to me, I wouldn’t give it a damn!” Although she knew well that he did it out of love for her, she still felt suffocated as if her freedom were taken away. Both felt heavily uncomfortable.
There were other similar situations that made him discouraged, not wanting to express his care anymore. He wondered why each time he tried to do something good, he just received some misunderstanding. Tired! Stuck!
Then one day during the season of Easter, he went to Mass in a small church near his work place. Tired. Sad. Depressed. The Word of God for that Sunday was the ‘same old stuff’ he had heard so many times that he felt very bored. Lacking zealous sentiments, he felt the Mass was so tiringly long that he threw a glance at the clock on the wall. Right at that moment he heard the priest read: Jesus told his disciples: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) He starled! These words, yes, these words were an important key to his ongoing problems. Yes, the disciples loved one another; yet, in order that their love could be most rightly expressed, Jesus added: “as I have loved you.” Was it that Jesus knew human relationships so well that He told them: “as I have loved you” ? This is the key, the secret for the art of love.
To understand clearly this secret is rather simple: One only needs to comtemplate attentively the way that Jesus expresses his love. The bottom line of all his gestures, words and actions when expressing his love is: offering his life for those he loves. This is both the foundation for true love and the climax of the expression of love; that’s why Jesus affirms: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
He suddenly realized the following: When expressing his care to others, Jesus never wants to control their life, nor shows any inconfidence, nor demands their care in return, nor manipulates their lifestyle. All comes from His unconditional love. He lets others’ responses to His love take place in total freedom and volunteerism. If there is a positive response from them, He enjoys it with greatest happiness. If there is not, Jesus still accepts them with full love. Such love is the love of a great heart. Human beings are born to become great in love.
From that day on, he began to contemplate the Master – Jesus – to learn how to love and how to express love. He then understood that to truly love is to focus on the peace and happiness of the other, and not to try to gain comfort for oneself. As long as our heart still wants some response for our personal interest, we have not known how to truly love and we actually only love ourselves. Now those who are cared by him feel more delighted, peaceful, and warm-hearted when they see him.
My dear friend, let’s contemplate our Master Jesus so that our expression of love may be ‘artistic’ and effective!
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
in Vietnamese: https://only3minutes.wordpress.com/tieng-viet/cach-yeu/