Every year I set New Years Resolutions. I know that many people don't believe in them, but I think that having annual goals is a really good idea. This year, my fifth resolution was this:
“My understanding of 'love' and 'guilt' and how they impact my daily life will become a part of who I am in a positive light” (January 1).
I thought it would be interesting, now that the year is wrapping up, to look back through my journal from this year (resolution number two!) and see how I've worked to develop an understanding of love. I've pulled a few quotes from the year and I am surprised at how my understanding really did grow over this year.
“For Christians, the single command is to love. The Bible says there is nothing without love and that we are nothing without love. The Bible says that we are not lovers of God if we are not lovers of man. [...] Love isn't the main thing God calls people to do, it is the only thing” (January 23).
I think one of my strongest pulls towards love at the beginning of this journey was knowing that I was called to it. I had no desire to be labeled as 'loving'; I knew I was supposed to. And I really struggled with it!
“How do I show love when I don't always feel so loving?” (February 5).
Another deep struggle of mine this year was developing a healthy self-image and learning to love myself.
“If I don't love myself, how am I supposed to love anyone else?” (March 14).
One of the best mediums through which I learned about love this year was my friendships. Living at West House and spending my time with people I truly loved and felt loved by was an amazing experience.
“I've never loved any group of people as much as I love this 'family'” (May 1).
In the summer, I began to wrestle through the inherent weaknesses in love. It really struck me how closely related love and guilt were, and it took a lot of deep conversations with my friends to work through this.
As my trip approached, I began to develop an unshakable anxiety. I was afraid to lose the grip I had developed on love and was anxious that my friendships wouldn't last.“Love is both mankind's most desirable strength and our greatest downfall and weakness. On one hand, we would be nothing without it. On the other, it makes us weak, vulnerable and predictable. Yet our only purpose is to love: our created longing is to attain our strongest and weakest trait” (June 7).
“Is Ben Gibbard right when he says 'love is watching someone die'? Who will be with me, I wonder?” (July 12).
After leaving, loneliness and I became fully acquainted. I then realized how much loneliness and love have in common.
“Loneliness is the strongest force which drives my philosophy of self, home and love” (September 30).
As I had more time to reflect, I came to understand that love is not essential 'because God says so'; it is essential because our souls demand it. We were created to be beings in relation with one another. Love is something you cannot exist without.
“I need to love and be loved” (October 9).
The longer I spent away from my new-found sources of love, the more I came to understand the glory of love. The other revelations I had had regarding love still stood, but there was something more in my understanding now. Love is scary, but it is worth it.
“Love and desire are tough. They can hurt and ruin and burn. But they are good and they can be absolutely amazing if you work hard at them” (November 4).
Finally, the lesson on love that I learned this month brought everything together. This month, I learned that I am loved.
“I wish I knew how to show as much love as I've been shown. I truly have the best friends on earth. If there was ever a year to try and understand love, this has certainly been the one” (Dec 7).