Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Beloved Lover

Our most basic human desire is to be loved by another…to be the beloved.
But when we come to realize that we are made more complete and our happiness is sustained when we are the lover, our joy expands and our state of being the beloved and the lover collide-

God manifests Himself at random moments and in the most unexpected places, but I never expected to discover God in the dog-eared pages of my Nichomachean Ethics as Professor Parens rambled on about the difference between the life of pleasure and the life of philosophy.

Aristotle says, “But refined and active people choose honor, for this is pretty much the goal of political life. Now this appears to be too superficial to be what is sought, for it seems to be in the ones who give honor rather than in the one who is honored, but we divine that the good
is something of one’s own and hard to take away. Also, people seem to pursue honor in order to be convinced that they themselves are good.”

Quite simply, the most innate human desire (in this case the desire of the common politician) is to be honored – to be given praise and thought highly of – to be loved. And how true! No one can deny the wonderful feeling in knowing that another person cares about them. Whether it’s the filial love that pours forth in wonderful friendships, the divine love, the agape, that we all share for each other as Christians, or the eros, the romantic love, that we share with a special other, to know that we are loved in some way – that we are another’s beloved – gives us peace…makes our hearts and minds content…soothes our soul and completes us on some
level. But as Aristotle is quick to point out, this want to be the honored (the loved) is almost a superficial desire because the one who is giving the honor (the one who is loving another) would be more satisfied.

So, is Aristotle saying that we should quell our desires to be the one who is loved and instead focus only on loving others? And if he were saying this, wouldn’t it create an unbelievable paradox, simply because everyone would be loving others who would not want to be loved because they want to do the loving? It got me thinking and set me off on a tangent, involving a
good hour in the chapel trying to sort through all the confusing thoughts running through my head. And so, I wrote a few things down and hopefully this will spark some discussion between friends.

The greatest truth within our lives is that we are loved - loved by an all powerful and majestic God who never needed us, but simply wanted us. Loved into existence....that is how we are here. The divine love pouring forth from the most commanding entity of the universe created and sustains us.
We are God’s beloved. Our most basic human desire, the want to be loved, is fulfilled the moment we are conceived - is sustained every second of every day that we live. And so, according to Aristotle despite the fact that he wasn’t necessarily writing from a Christian perspective, in our basic humanity, we should be satisfied because we are loved by God. End of discussion, right? Let’s take it further.

If what Aristotle originally said was true, that the one who is actually loving is more satisfied than the one who is loved, how can we accept that we are completely fulfilled in just knowing that God loves us and that we are truly His beloved?

I dare to say – despite the fact that I’m arguing against Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophical minds in human history, and probably destroying basic Church doctrine – that we cannot merely accept that God loves us…that we are doing ourselves a disservice and being unjust to God if we simply acknowledge that God loves us and move on.

We must be both the beloved and the lover. We must recognize and accept God’s divine love for us and know that we are His adored, but we must also accept the fact that we will gain ultimate satisfaction when we reciprocate that love, when we love God back, when God becomes our beloved.

I’m not saying that we can ever love God the same way He loves us. He is God – Master of the Universe, Savior of the World, Lover of all. For us to even fathom His love and to attempt to grasp the concept of us being loved into existence boggles our minds.

But we can love Him back. We can accept that His love is what causes our existence and do our absolute best to love Him in return, even if it will never match His love. We have to come to realize the state of being the beloved is even more incredible when we love God back.

Put it on a human level. Let’s say Jane and Bob are dating, and, in order to prove the point, Bob is absolutely crazy about Jane, but Jane is only half way crazy about Bob (if that makes sense) In essence, Bob is investing more into the relationship than Jane. Bob makes the first phone
call, Bob sends the first text message, Bob grabs Jane’s hand first. And one could argue that this is how a relationship should work. That it is Bob’s job to be the lover in the relationship and for Jane to sit back and be the beloved. But is Jane really benefiting from the relationship if she is simply loved and never returns any feeling? Is simply being the beloved
enough in this common, everyday relationship? Moreover, is Bob really benefiting from the relationship if he is only loving and never loved back? Is simply being the lover enough in this common, everyday relationship?

The relationship must be balanced…it must be equal…there must be a dual partnership in the loving. They must both love and must both be the beloved. Bob must love Jane, but Jane must also love Bob. Otherwise, things become one sided and unfair and the relationship is doomed to failure.

This is what we must strive to avoid in the relationship with God – this one sided, unfair relationship with God simply loving us and us never returning the love to Him.
We must know that God loves us and we must accept ourselves as His beloved. We have to remind ourselves that He made us through His love…that His love is why we exist. And when we accept that, how can we not love Him back?
We must be God’s lover and we must accept Him as our beloved. He must be first in our lives. He cannot take a backseat to our schoolwork or our social lives, He cannot be disregarded for the superficial things of this world. We must love Him first.

The whole reason for this, quite simply, is to point out that God’s love sustains and completes us, but that we are more fulfilled when we reciprocate that love. Our greatest joy in life will be found when we accept our role as both God’s beloved and God’s lover… when we become the beloved lover…

SOURCE: This was shared with me by a fellow teacher. It was written by a friend of his, a student at The University of Dallas. Isn't it beautiful?

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