I came across this altered stop sign a few days ago and it definitely spoke to where I was at that moment. I’d had a rough few days, and allowed some hurtful emails to get to me, such that I responded with anger instead of taking time to step back and let go of my initial reactions. I’m human. We all have our breaking points; this week I found some more. And then I came across this sign.
So much of our culture has cheapened the concept of love, making it into an easy, everyday phrase, as in “I love ice cream” or “Don’t you just love that dress?” True love—what Christians call agape—is a different story altogether, at least the way I’ve been taught to understand it from a spiritual perspective. This love is not about really liking something, or someone. It’s not infatuation, either; I think infatuation is a genetic disposition toward attachment to another for procreation and the survival of the species. It can lead to love, but it is not the same thing.
To my mind, true love is the ability to recognize the innate goodness in another person, despite their imperfections, shortcomings, and breaking points. It’s the willingness to look beyond what we like, or don’t like, about another person, and find the spark of the Spirit which dwells within them. We all have that spark; we all have particular gifts and graces which make us unique, make us valuable, indeed make us irreplaceable in the grand, Divine scheme of things.
Later that same day, as I was editing, I came across this phrase from St. Teresa of Avila: “think less and love more.” It was another good invitation for me, as I have been pondering how to step back, let go of initial reactions, and make healthy choices about how to love people who send hateful emails. I need to get out of my head and into my heart in order to find the path to loving people whom, in the heat of the moment, I struggle to like or understand.
Where in your life do you need to embrace the message to Never Stop Loving? In what situations do you need to think less and love more?