Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1Corinthians 13:4-7
People hurried around me and the familiar sounds of a rail station were muffled in the distance. Above the noise of the hand dryer before me, I found myself suddenly overcome with thoughts of someone who had hurt my family a great deal. The first time I sat and told a priest our story in regards to this person, he was shocked. I remember him telling me that what had been done to us was such that I should not count on forgetting after forgiving. He gave me hope, though, that the pain would lessen and the memories would grow more dim.
I have had a few experiences that you might call "moments of clarity." They were times when I was able to see or hear God speaking to me in difficult moments with crystal-clear clarity. This particular moment occurred in a most unexpected place. It was nearly nine years ago on our second visit to England and the trip was a pilgrimage of sorts for us which bore great fruit in our lives.
Standing there, in that ordinary moment before a restroom hand dryer in Victoria Station, I could clearly picture this person being embraced tenderly by Jesus, comforted, as if she were a small child. I could see her face, normally contorted with a perpetual frown, now relaxed, with tears falling from her lowered head. I could feel the love Jesus had for her. Regardless of what she had done, He loved her and was calling me to move beyond the choice of forgiveness which I had already made, to the choice to love. Thoughts took over my heart and mind. She must be so miserable inside to be able to treat others as if they were just pawns in a game, to be moved about according to her will. Each time she did something hurtful, another part of her heart died. For the first time, my heart ached for her and her darkened soul. I felt pain for the way she must feel each day. And I wanted to love her as God wished me to love her--as a sister since she had also been baptized in Christ.
I began to realize how few friends she had; I realized she had no confidant to whom she might turn for comfort, guidance, or to simply listen. Pictures of my dear mother, friends, and husband passed through my mind and I wondered at how different my life would be without them. I thought of how she went through the motions of mass attendance, almost out of superstition rather than real communion with Christ. There, in a rail station, I had tears in my eyes, and I began to love that person. My heart softened and the relationship was forever changed.
The hurts and memories were there, but they were now in a new context. They were now in the background and I realized I could determine how they would impact me. I could turn inward and wallow in my hurts or I could turn outward to God and bring all the hurt to him. Forgiveness and love are not feelings. They are choices that we have to continually renew, with God's grace. That moment of clarity was clearly something for which only God could be responsible. On my own, I was not capable of seeing past my injuries.
On St. Valentine's Day, a day associated with a secular version of love, and every day:
My heart breaks for those who have never experienced real love before or who are too wounded to accept it. I pray for them that they may find Love itself, in Christ.
My prayers are also for those who have used others, mistreated them or caused pain. May they have eyes to see every person as a child of God, with an everlasting soul. May they find true healing for that which causes them to use and abuse those around them. May they feel God's love and forgiveness.
Finally, I pray for those who have been victims of such mistreatment. May they also find comfort, healing, and the grace to forgive in the arms of Love Incarnate. Amen.
|Love Itself is waiting for us. There we will find Him and ourselves --as we were truly meant to be.|