Love…. A Journey of the Soul
Based on the writings of Father Tadros Malaty
Love is a very complicated concept to many people. Does he really love me? Do I really love her? How do I know that I’m in love? Do I love my parents and do they love me? Do I love God?
The reason why love is so confusing is because it is human nature to mix love with emotional tendency, which then destroys the essence of true love. As Father Tadros says, “we often conceal our utilitarian or ego centric drives behind a show of love.” Consequently, we may even deceive ourselves by appearing holy to realize our evil motivations. A simple definition of love for now would be that it is an act of opening one’s heart to everything and everyone, of which God lives within, since He is the creator of life and the world.
In attempting to discover a true definition of love, one student said the following: ”I find love much like a mirror. When I love another, he becomes my mirror and I become his, each reflecting the others’ love, we see infinity”. In more descriptive terms, love is compared to light shining between two parallel mirrors. Each of these mirrors reflects light on the other opposite to it, so that each one would show then an infinite number of the source of light.
Some Aspects that reveal the nature of Love
1. Love is the deliberate and wise opening up of the heart.
When the heart is described as being an “open heart” it means a heart that is overflowing with love, and that is conveyed to others, which does not indicate a specific person or someone we necessarily know very well, but rather it explicitly means to everyone, since God is love, and God abides within all things and all humanity. St Ausgustus, for ten years lived a frolicsome life. During this time, his heart was imprisoned by lust for an unclean woman. Later on, he experienced the true sensation of opening one’s heart and discovered that this process is done judiciously. Basically, love has it’s own system or ordination. This can be portrayed in the following as Father Tadros puts it: “Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and powers, and loving our parents are two different types of love; loving our children is a third; and a husband’s or wife’s love is different from the love of friends or colleagues.”
2. Love out of Necessity
To really love is to liberate one’s self from the ego or self. A person who is not free of this is concerned mainly with the things of the world and with one’s human desires. This individual’s motives are highly egoistic, although may be hidden under a veil of love. A love of such false nature is frequently seen in both youths of today and many years ago. A young person feels entrapped and suffocated by the parents, so when he or she meets another who suffers from the same situation, they become deceived and believe that they are each other’s soul mate. What results from such a relationship is a new problem because this couple actually met on the grounds of necessity and deprivation.
3. Love…an internal journey to offer the self
Father Tadros says, “The goal of this journey is to enter the self to understand the reality of its core self and its existence, to recognize its mission. He will seek to be internally satisfied so that he can overflow onto others. He offers his “self” wisely and consciously as his Savior has done…granting His own Self to His beloved”.
4. Love…Life’s Symphony
Harmony is displayed by a pleasing combination or integration of parts. What gives our lives a harmonious flow is “Love”. With the pulsation of one’s “Holy Heart, an individual’s outward behavior is conformed.
5. Love…God’s inspiration
All humanity was created in God’s image to reflect this beautiful thing called “Love”, but in order to be truly blessed with this feature, one must continually unite with God, who is the absolute love.
St. John said,”Love comes from God” “God is Love” (1 John 4:7,8). By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love to one another”. (John 13:35). Basically, the stamp which symbolizes we are God’s children is “Love”.
Gregory Nazianzus says, “He who wishes to talk about love is committed to talk about God Himself; for holy love is man’s way of imitating God and His resemblance within his human limitations.
Beware of the journey of the Ego
When we refer to the “core self” this is absolutely different than the ego. One must be able to make that distinction in order to avoid the deceptions of false love. The journey of love is encompassed by searching and nurturing this inner core of the self. In the depths of this core, lies our true being and status as children of God. Throughout discovering it, one also learns his or her true mission in life. Within this core resides the “Kingdom of God” (Luke 17:21), “the kingdom of love”. As Father Tadros says, “We find God, the lover of man, setting up the kingdom of His love within, so that the inner “core” self opens up to include – if possible – all, in God’s love. This inner journey abolishes the ego”.
Two signs that warn man against the “ego trip”:
1. Beware of demanding others to be a copy of yourself:
When one says, he or she loves another, this individual must be careful in selecting such powerful words of expression. One should ask himself or herself first, “Do I love this person, or do I love my image instilled within her? Do I love her differences or do I just merely love the similarities we share? Do I love her for the person she truly is or the imaginary person I wish to create her to be? A person who says he loves another, but requires that this other individual become a duplicate of himself because he loves her, i.e., who wants to shape and mold everything and everyone around him according to his personal wishes, desires, tendencies, and expectations, is actually practicing what is called narcissism (the act of being self consumed and absorbed). This is frequently seen when a father who has not been able to accomplish a certain degree, begins to drive his children in being what he feels he failed to succeed in. This also happens, often when a priest or father, who is convinced of a way of life and belief begins to urge his children to take on the same path without ever taking into regards the understanding, talents, and capabilities of that child. One must realize that being different is so marvelous throughout the journey of love, and each one of us must accept each other’s dissimilarities in love, while committing each other to guide one another by observing one another. As said previously, the pulsation of our “holy heart” will harmonize our internal intentions and external behavior, so will it harmonize these difference that two people will offer to each other into a singular special beauty, which nevertheless keeps the uniqueness of a personality from merging into others.
2. Beware of material offerings without involving the heart or the soul.
A sign of an individual practicing true love is when the concerns of that person are to find congruity between both internal and external offerings. One must offer external acts which will fill and complement the internal “self core”, which is where the Kingdom of God lives, and where love resides. Once a wife commented on her relationship with her husband, who could offer her a beautiful house, etc. and a piece of land for one million dollars, which he put under both of their names. She said, “I want his heart and not the million dollars!” Later on she divorced him. All mankind needs inner love, which offers understanding and a self-giving soul rather than one that is dependent upon materialistic offerings.
A true believer in Jesus Christ is one who meets many obstacles in life and is committed to making many sacrifices. Sacrifice is done, in order to allow us to partake in the pains of Christ, which brings happiness and peace to the soul, and strengthens our Holy Spirit. St. Paul enslaved himself to others in order to gain many souls in Christ. He counted his slavery as a way of building his internal Glory for God, rather than something that would be looked at as degrading and humiliating. “With every labor, the crucified Lord in our heart is glorified, so that the believer shares in His pains, thus transforming human pains into a source of consolation through the resurrection and its joys.” (Father Tadros)