Talking about the topic of ‘love’ is always uneasy - maybe because as I write, I feel obliged to have a wider and more in depth perspective than my audience (which isn’t always the case), maybe because it hits too close to where all the soft parts of my being gather in tensed clusters, bracing for dreaded impact - maybe because love is so easily defined today in our society with simple generalisations drawing back to emotion or unity - many reasons, perhaps. But I tried, as we all usually do, we continue to try, and grasp this ever-elusive concept of what loving truly means. Love has been a ridiculous adventure of discovery that continuously lead to character building, to say the least - and as I gathered my thoughts I've realized that it's easiest to lay it under three types of love - self-love, love for others, and Agape.

Self-love never comes easy because you know the worst parts of who you are more than anybody else. It’s difficult to see cracks in our system that perhaps no other person can see. We stare at flaws that are probably non-existent in the eyes of an observer. We carry our shame, guilt, insecurities, memories, longings, and baggage ceaselessly everyday. It’s easier to turn to another person or thing to escape the heavy drag of what we have to battle inside of us so we can, at the very least, like who we are - but we must remember that this type of solution can only uphold us for so long.

No relationship, career, travel, amount of money, or achievements could ever suffice to give us the steady affirmation that we all long for. There will always be that black hole that needs to be constantly fed and dealt with. The loneliness and the sense of lacking will never subside, there will always be bad days, but we must carry out life strengthened by better seasons. I think we’ve forgotten, because we have become a community of “better me’s” - we post on social media the highlight of our lives or how close we are getting to our goals, and we see only the best of others too - how to deal with our hearts, minds, and souls, right now. 

We must understand that before we can love others completely and rightly, before we can heal this broken world or start changing systems that have corrupted our societies, we must first physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, hone ourselves into becoming men and women who are defiant. The root of all these problems is our heart and how we personally deal with it on a daily basis. Our circumstances are always changing, but one thing that remains is us as individuals - who we choose to become and how we respond. Self-love calls for our conscious effort to make choices that take us one step closer towards that person we know God has called us to become. 

To be loved, we must first be loving - of ourselves, but surprisingly also, of others. I’ve realised that aiming only for our personal happiness can lead to emptiness. We feel most alone when we are selfishly indulging in our desires and have no compassion for others. Joy thrives in seasons when we care deeply for those around us, and when we extended a hand of grace and kindness to those who need it the most. And yes, those who need it most are usually people who are not able to reciprocate or who blatantly choose hate. Loving others means acknowledging who they are, what they have done, the circumstances you are in, and still making the conscious effort to choose to be kind to that person.

As I write these things I realise that I also have to clarify - loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean staying in the situation or putting yourself in a position that undermines your wellbeing — you could express love by letting go, by saying no, or standing by your rights and personal choices, as long as it doesn’t completely defile others. Like haters - on social media, it’s easy to dump mean things on another person because we feel like their behaviour automatically entitles us to ricochet the hate, but ‘loving others’ means ignoring what they have said or done, and moving on with our lives, while detaching ourselves from their reach. That’s loving them, and loving yourself: extending a hand of grace, but also knowing when to walk away.

It all sounds unrealistic, but these are thoughts I’ve gathered in the months spent focusing my eyes in God’s unconditional, everlasting, sacrificial love. When I think about what Christ has done on the Cross — that He died for my sins to be able to offer us life in exchange for our imminent death — I can’t help but be fiercely transformed into a woman willing to share her heart fearlessly. I’m excited to care for others deeply, even when I know I’ll get hurt, because all my hope is laid upon the feet of an Eternal God Who promises to never leave me, to protect me, to sustain me, to provide for me a love that endures even through the toughest of circumstances or the most vile of people.

When we hinge our love and identity on the eternal, chances are, we will never be defeated. In a world that is constantly changing and pulling us in all directions, we must accept that there should be a focal point to who we are, or else we will live life in utter fatigue from trying to constantly adjust and re-adjust to our surroundings. It doesn’t make sense to me when people say that truth is modifiable - it defeats the entire nature of it. Truth, by definition, excludes. It talks about absoluteness, and absoluteness cannot, by nature, be transfigured according to our personal wants or beliefs, because then it will have not been the ‘truth’ but our circumstantial perspective of it. As the Truth has found me, I encourage you to journey on and find it for yourself as well; and in it, you will realize, lies all the love we can give and receive.

That’s it. I’m trying to write often again, laying down my thoughts in able to completely process it. I’ve prayed that this blog will be a space to fortify hearts and evoke creativity for both you and me. I’ve realised that there aren’t a lot of things that matter more than using our voices to uplift those around us, so now, I venture to use mine in carrying out the message of Truth, love and joy, according to how life has presented it to me. 

I hope that we are able to stir up compassion and kindness in our own communities, to rally each other into becoming men and women who are front liners in creating change that benefits everyone around us, not just the groups we belong to, and of course, to embody the goodness we hope to see in others. We were never designed to live for ourselves. We will always run out of resources. When we care for nothing and no one else but what makes us happy, we suck the life out of everything, including our own joy.

If we are to be hedonists, we might as well do it right.

With love,

JP