“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s use,” a wise pope (and now saint) once said. I’ll add to the saying, or, rather, adjust it with the synonym (does editing JPII get me excommunicated?), the opposite of love is not hate, it’s selfishness. One definition of selfishness is “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own profit or pleasure.”
Although it would be masochistic to desire to be in a relationship with someone that gave you no enjoyment, if your top priority in marriage or relationship is making sure that person makes you feel good—then you’re doing it wrong.
Recently, I found myself jumping into the “talking phase” with someone right after ending a “talking phase” with someone else. This second man went from talking phase to boyfriend to ex rather quickly and not fast enough. But he had appeared, and I had decided I would prove my insecurities wrong by filling the emotional void of that other man not wanting me with the attentions of the next best (immediate) thing.
Did I really appreciate that next man? Did I see him truly as God saw him? Did I actually see him and accept him for who he was or did I just engage because I finally felt desired?
I desired to be loved over actually falling in love, or even, the thing that should be most foundational, truly seeing the man in front of me. Really, (and this is not a reflection of this man’s worth, but of my own brokenness), it could have been anyone giving me that attention, and it would’ve filled the void for an ephemeral second.
I didn’t see him; I saw him seeing me.
I didn’t see or love him as the man he was. And because of that, when rose colored glasses fell off my face, I couldn’t give him the respect he desired. And without the respect he desired, he couldn’t give me the love I needed. From there, unsurprisingly, the relationship fell apart. And, while I love to cast blame on the other persona after a break up, I now have the clarity to blame my own selfishness and inability to face my own wounds.
I just reread this at 11pm on my couch, and I wish I hadn’t phrased that last sentence like that. But those are the honest feelings poking through. But blame, however, isn’t even really the right word. I release both of us from the “blame” (because it never does any good or catalyzes any change), and I lay it down. I lay it down, and I beg Him for transformation.
I’ve been given the gift of time now to face my insecurities and to ask God for healing. And, in sparse moments of humility, to ask for his healing as well. My selfishness brought me to this place, but grace will pull me out.
God wants us to see our beloveds with eyes of love and self-giving instead of eyes searching to see how the other will fulfill our hearts. That’s the truest love there is.