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The Paradox of Love

There exists a dichotomy in regard to our relationships to other persons. While we are all infinitely complex and unique, we are, simultaneously, infinitely the same. Just as we have complex lives with an incalculable number of details that only we will ever know and understand, so too does everyone around us. Yet, there are consistent, archetypical themes in each of our lives: right versus wrong; courage versus fear; strength versus weakness; the fundamental task to rise above everything, yet constantly falling short.

So, there isn’t a single person around you to whom you cannot relate. In fact, at the core of our being, we are not any different from each other. The people around you are you. They are variations of man. They are multiplicities of the human soul on their own journey through this plane with their own story, details, and minutiae — but they are you. Thus, the deepest craving of your heart is the deepest craving in the hearts of everyone you meet.

This is a deep craving for, of course, love. Love is both the apex and the root of everything. Love may not be the only thing we want, but it is our deepest desire and, ultimately, it is what we need. It is a nonnegotiable. It is the crux of the reason for our very existence.

The truest love that persons desire isn’t the kind where they must give in return to earn that love, but love and affection for who they are inside — for their being. This is genuine love of the person, as they are, in their most complete form. That is to say, love that is aware of both their best and worst qualities. Love that isn’t limited to their actions. Love that doesn’t wax or wane with changing seasons. Love that finds everything hidden deep within, turns it to the light, and says with tenderness “This too is beautiful.”

Admitting this must come with this additional understanding: we must recognize that the love we crave is not that which other humans can offer. While human love seeks to emulate the love our hearts desire, our brokenness prevents us from loving each other in this superbly genuine way. The love we seek is, and only can be, the love of our Creator. It is the intrinsic love that is felt of every creation for its creator. It is love that is not only good, but is just.

This is the relationship God calls us into with Himself. This is why His heart breaks as He watches us struggle from person to person, looking for His love and finding only an imperfect, human version. He wishes to fill our hearts with His love and set us free.

Therefore, we must learn to seek this complete, encapsulating love from Him alone. Continuing to seek this kind of love from other persons will only continue to leave us disappointed and heartbroken — but this is not to say that we ought not to love each other. In fact, understanding this frees us to love each other with a more authentic love. It is by letting go that we begin to grasp!

It is this exact paradox which causes such great confusion. Culture tells us that to feel loved, we should live for ourselves and to seek relationships that maximize our chance of feeling “loved” whether that be through physical or emotional means. To the contrary, the reality is that we best love ourselves when we make a gift of ourselves to others. We love ourselves when we give our love away. When we turn outwards and think of those around us first. It is when we let go of our insistent desire for love that we begin to find God’s love. We must give it up if we are to gain it.

When one comes to understand that the love they crave comes from God alone, they no longer search for this love in other persons. Moreover, because they are now fulfilled in the love of the Creator, they can now give that love freely to others without seeking anything in return. They can see others, in their brokenness, and love them profoundly, released from their dependency on others loving them back. In this way, we have the opportunity to most closely replicate the love of the Creator. We have the chance to give away that thing we so desperately sought after and, in that giving, find it.

Copyright 2024 – Phillip Dougherty

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