I have held, for many years, a fundamental misunderstanding of love. The more I seek to understand it, the more I recognize my ignorance. Love is selfless, strong, and tender. It is the balm that heals all wounds.
Love does not hurt. Pride does. When people think themselves above you and treat you selfishly as a result, how can we call it love? We humans have a tendency to wonder if it was something we did to cause them to treat us this way. We hurt because of their actions and we blame it on ourselves. We blame our feelings of love for our pain when really, it is their pride, it is them, that should be held responsible. Yet we can’t hate them, not really. We feel as if things would be easier if we could hate them. It’s during then that we feel as if our hearts are betraying us.
Didn’t this person hurt me? So why do I still love them? Why can’t I hate them?
That’s because (healthy) love is selfless. It is kind. It is forgiving. It is not something that can be taken away just because you are hurt or disappointed. Your love was innocent.
As Eva Kor has famously said, “You don’t forgive because the perpatrator deserves it. You forgive because you, the victim, deserve the right to be free again.”
Eva Mozes Kor is an Auschwitz survivor. She and her sisters were forced through horrific and inhuman experimentation while the rest of her family was murdered in the gas chambers. Years later, she forgave the Nazi’s that did this to her. Not because she thought they were good people or worthy of it, but because she deserved the right to be free.
That’s a form of love too, you know. Love of self. Philautia, as the Greeks called it, only I don’t think they realized what a good thing it is.
I’m not perfect, but you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. You don’t have to be perfect to be free or to deserve the right to be free. We cannot fully control the world around us nor can we ever truly control its people, but we can control ourselves. Freedom is something that exists only through self control because then, when you make a decision, it will be because you yourself chose it. Not because you were controlled by your passion or hatred, but because you made that choice for yourself.
Our circumstances are rarely what we wish it to be, but we in our minds and hearts can find our soul’s freedom by choosing to let go of what would hold us back and holding onto what we must hold onto to. Sometimes, it feels as if I am drowning, but it is in moments such as these that I can feel myself breathe. I can control myself. Even as the world falls around me, at the very least, I can control something by letting things go.