For a while we sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the cool September evening. There wasn’t a need to talk about anything in particular; I was just enjoying being there. But he was clearly ruminating on some deep questions.
Suddenly he turned to me and asked, “What do you think it means to be in love?” Caught off guard, I didn’t have an answer to give in that exact moment. I thought about it for a while and eventually gave some sort of ambiguous answer, but the real answer to that question is something I am still thinking about.
Although I do not think I’ve ever been truly in love with a man, partially because I would hope that would be a lasting commitment, past romantic and familial relationships have helped me define what it means to be in love.
It’s not something I’ve defined overnight, and my understanding and experiences of love will always be changing and shaping my viewpoint. But for now, I believe to be in love begins with the abandonment of all calculation of risk. Love cannot be measured; to be in love means to be given a gift, the gift of another—a gift that is unquantifiable and priceless. Real love means abandonment of self: my selfish wants and desires.
This is the scariest thing about love. . Why? Because real love requires that I let go of determining my future all by myself, heal from my past brokenness, and remain mindful of the present sorrows and joys. Real love requires that I abandon myself to another human person and give up my selfishness: what I believe to be my needs, my schedule, my agenda, and trust that when I allow another to love me, everything that I need will be given in abundance. It will be better than I could have ever imagine for myself even if it is different.
When I sat there on that early September evening, listening to the rustling of the trees and the chirping of the birds, I was at rest. For that moment and in most of that relationship, I allowed myself to let go of my routine in order to love another person more than myself. It’s funny how much I let go of some of my daily anxieties when I was with him. I didn’t worry as much about, finances, performance at my job, not because I was becoming lazy or imprudent, but because I was joyful and trustful. I wanted to put someone else before myself, and that brought me great joy and great consolation in times of anxiety.
The experience of loving another person can be terrifying because it’s risky. We fear the unknown and we don’t know what our love will look like in the future. However, this is also the most beautiful part of love: it is unknown. To be in love is a gift,.
Looking back, I think at the point in my life I was sharing and receiving love. Perhaps I was in love. We gave of ourselves to each other in love, and I was so full of joy because I reveled in the gift that had so undeservedly been given.