Reflection on The Four Loves
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis, The four Loves
The following is not a review, rather it’s more of a reflection of what I have gained from this read, and I strongly encourage you to check it out.
I have been pondering what makes life worth living when overwhelming day-to-day struggles at times erroneously can lead a weary soul to a place of social isolation and spiritual desolation. What are the foundational facets which enhance our existence along with bettering the lives of others’ who are strategically part of our unique journey’s story, even if we are unable to appreciate these contributions?
Being authentic and risking exposing my vulnerabilities about who I am, flaws and all, where I am no matter my state in life is something I have been striving to achieve in all relationships. What is at the core of being which allows ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable with our trusted friends, family or even strangers? It could be intuition, friendship and its various forms and stages, commonalities, whether superficial or on a deeper level all describe some type of “love.” Life lessons have taught me human love is quite a tricky concept which I still struggle to wrap my heart and mind around, however, reading the “Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis has helped further clarify what love really is in all its shapes and dimensions. This beautiful timeless book is such a rich, wise resource worth revisiting time and time again for all no matter if you are single, dating, widowed, engaged or married, because ultimately the universal vocation is holiness.
Before I reverted to my Catholic faith, when in a romantic relationship, I equated love as simply being a feeling, or falsely believed the words one said or engaging in fleeting physical signs of affection could be taken at face value, however, with life comes lessons and I eventually began to learn this skewed perception of love were not at all healthy features of authentic love, and thus I was often left with the gaping wounds of rejection. Whether it’s the trend in our society which espouses the feelings first mentality or our indulgence in the money-making, mind manipulating empire of unrealistic so-called romance novels which are based on infatuation or pure lust, that both revolve around seeing the other as an object to be used and discarded when the thrill is gone and the high has dissipated sure paints a bleak picture of whether risking to love is worthwhile. I will be the first to admit I do enjoy an occasional Nicholas Sparks read, but as I’ve matured and read similar stories, at times I finish the book and feel more alone than I did when I started. I think it must do with the realization that while initially any relationship can be built on the shaky pretenses of commonalities, attraction or desire, we all have experienced the reality life sure is not always sunshine and Skittles. It’s sadness, heartache, brokenness, loss, mistakes, joy, pain, hope, peace, which all require a strong foundation of love no matter the type of relationship.
The truth is in any state in life, we will fall short of loving others as we are called to, but we are always presented with the option to continue and use the communion of Saints as our role models of humility, self-sacrifice who exhibited through their earthly lives it’s possible to carry out the difficult task to die to our desires for a greater good. The ultimate goal is to help one another get to heaven, so why not authentically love even when it’s not easy or popular?
In the Four Loves, C.S. Lewis expertly explores and assists the reader to discover through a thought-provoking format the four types of love. We are first encouraged to consider the power of the words we use related to what we “like” or “love”, which in the English language are often used interchangeably. Often I say in no particular order I love coffee, I love learning, I love sleep, I love my daughter, I love a good glass of Moscato, I love books, I love God, or I love my family and friends. The list sure spans the trivial to sincere, however, the love for my daughter is not the same love I have for chillaxin in soft warm socks and comfy clothes with French vanilla coffee and a book on a cold day.
To my surprise, yesterday while journaling in the silence of adoration a startling reality I came to after reflecting on this mind-shifting read was unexpectedly related to my last romantic relationship. Contrary to how I initially felt after the breakup and even years after the loss of my best friend, I was nearly brought to tears when I confronted the truth that even though the relationship ended, he never lied when he said he loved me. I know through his decision to move on, along with prayer and discernment, he loved me enough to be honest and say we were not meant to be, which Lewis reminded me love is doing what is best for the beloved despite having to lay down one’s heart in the process, and as Christians we are called to love selflessly. I am realizing to more freely love others’, I need to first embrace the unconditional love of God and make more time for Him. My faith relationship is not simply about tacking on yet another thing on the to-do list, rather it could be seeking His presence at Mass, basking in stillness during adoration or engaging in silent prayer while walking down the street.
As a side note, I will always be thankful God placed many in my life for a season or reason to teach me unique lessons about faith, friendship, authentic love and letting go. This entry is dedicated to those who I had the honor to love and who reciprocated authentic love even when I was least deserving or when I was to blind to see past my feelings of rejection or betrayal. I highly recommend this transformational read, and pray we live out these lyrics
by loving all who are placed in our life no matter the reason or season.
Until next time, Anjelina