So its been a bit since I’ve written but I’m back. I was asked a while to write something about dating which seemed like an interesting topic. Providence set things up for this in a very interesting. Any Catholics that were looking to do something special this year realized pretty quick that they were going to have to change their plans for a nice steak dinner with their lover since this year Valentine’s Day feel on Ash Wednesday. A bit of an almost contradiction, right? This will only be topped in irony by Easter being on April Fool’s Day. So I figured I would make lemonade when life throws us lemons and see what this lent could teach us about love.
Lent and love both have something that does link them: sacrifice. This term may be a bit strong for some people, but thats because we have lost the sense of it. The truest sacrifice is not summed up in destruction of one’s self or pain and torture and death, but rather ina gift in which we discover ourself. Man’s identity can be found only in self-gift. Thats what true sacrifice is where in giving of himself man discovers who he is. The sacrifices and penances we do during lent will mean little if we don’t give more of ourself to God and grow in knowing ourselves in His eyes. Likewise, our relationships will mean little or nothing if the litmus tests for them is only based on what am I getting out of it. For many people, the way to tell if this relationship is working out is how happy am i? Will this relationship make me happy? The base seems to be a very subjective understanding of relationships.
I’m reminded of a story of a guy who, for his wedding bands, wanted them to be black to symbolize that he was dying to himself in this relationship. However, his fiancee was very much against it and he still insisted that this was what he wanted. He wanted to show her that he was going to die to himself! I hope you picked up on the contradiction.
Lent and love are both about the same thing: stripping off our self centeredness. In relationships, it has to be about seeing that the other is not an object of mine, not just a relationship that I can get something out of it. Many times we have friends that are this way: we are friends with the owner of the bar because he gives us free drinks or the mechanic because he works on our cars. This in a way is making people and object. A person is never an object to be used but only a person to be loved. Love, that sentiment of putting what is best for them first and seeing them as an equal.
In dating, it must again be seen not so much from the point of trying to fill a void in your life. Many time insecurities in our lives are filled by these people and they can make us feel that we are good enough. If this is the case then there probably is something deeper needing some healing. Our partners are mean to be an equal to us, one that reflects to us something of the good and we do the same back to them.
Marriage then become a partnership for the whole of life. Partners. Two who are equal. We say that spouses are two people who, through an act of the fill choose to make their love between each other a due of justice. The love and self-gift between them is meant to be so real, that is gives life.
In discerning someone to date, we need not think will this person make me happy, even as important as that is, but does true love exist? Not just attraction for some pleasure of mine but does this person possess more and am I willing to give more?
Lent teaches us to cut out the fluff. To be real about ourselves and our gifts. To have the strength to give.
So is this the case of the love in our lives? Are we giving are do we live in a place of comfort with our partners? We should constantly find ourselves in a place of giving and not in isolation and use.