Fun Fact #1
Love is an act of the will.
I first read this as a high schooler in Eric Fromm’s The Art of Loving. It’s come in mighty handy ever since.
Songs, movies, and novels can diminish our view of love to just feelings. Which is pretty shaky ground for any friendship, especially a life-long commitment in marriage.
Real love is loving God above all things and to love others for God’s sake. In other words, if we make up our mind to love them as God loves them, we can love people we don’t like—or can’t stand the sight of at the moment!
Which leads us to fun fact #2.
Fun Fact #2
Loving our enemies is the best.
Although it’s more fun to love those whom we like, love for someone who has betrayed us is—wait for it— purer. That’s because we have the privilege of loving them with the love with which God has loved us when we betrayed him. We love them with the unconditional love we long to receive, and deep down know we were born for, even though we haven’t earned it.
And what does it look like to love our enemies? It doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves in the line of fire. In fact, it’s okay to avoid them if we can. It means that we wish them the same blessings we wish for ourselves and treat them with courtesy and help that’s called for when we come in contact with them.
Praying for them is a great way to dissolve the resentment that can be hard to let go of any other way.
Fun Fact #3
Love is the Holy Spirit acting in us.
Love is called Charity when love for others grows out of our friendship with God. This kind of love isn’t something we can come up with ourselves. It’s a gift. Charity is the actual love of the Father and the Son active in our mind, heart, and will.
St. Jane de Chantal wrote, “Once the love of God takes possession of your heart, all the rest will be easy.” That is, the more we prepare ourselves to receive the love of God and to enjoy the happiness of it, the more intensely the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with himself, who is Love.
It can be hard to give up focusing on our preferences and the hurts others have caused. But those things are passing away. Focusing instead on the eternal God who is love is a better plan for the future and a way to bring real joy to the present moment.
Lord, make me always more open to love with your love, especially those I find hard to love at all. Love them through me, now, at this moment. Amen.