“Are you in love?”… Are you in love? Certainly, this is a strange question to receive out of the blue, but don’t be alarmed just yet. Love is a broad subject that many have written and spoken about in length. It seems to consume much of the media, our culture, and even our own lives. And most of the time, this “love” we hear about is of the romantic nature. So, it may be the case for you as it is for me, that when you hear, “are you in love?” you think of just that. However, we cannot leave it as just that because there is a bigger reality surrounding us at all times. Love Himself, our God, is calling us to Himself. So, the question, “are you in love?” becomes an all more important one we must ask ourselves every now and again. Are we in Love? Do we find ourselves in our Creator, our dear God?
Back when I was 14, I started wondering about many things, (as kids do around that age). One of these queries was one not too unfamiliar to many of you – “How do I know if they’re the right one? And how did other people know??” Stepping from middle school to high school, finding a significant other seemed to be an essential quest and valiant pursuit. And is that search really less of a big deal now that we’re in college? You may even have well-intentioned family and friends on your case about getting married sooner rather than later! Anyway, continuing on with our story, such an important question couldn’t go unanswered, and so I found myself cornering my dear mentor and teacher at coffee hour one Sunday, asking him to reveal his secret. . . How did he know his wife was the one? His response was insightful and still sticks with me today. This is the point it boiled down to: “Marriage,” he said, “is the beginning of a journey towards God. The person you marry is your partner in the journey. God is the only one that can complete us.”
“God is the only one that can complete us.” Wow! How incredible and freeing is that? Before all else, we must remember our first love and our soul’s bridegroom. Seeking marriage (which is such a beautiful Mystery), or monasticism (another beautiful and blessed path of salvation our church offers), is wonderful, but we shouldn’t fixate on it or think of it as an “end all, be all.” As is the case with all things, we must orient ourselves to Christ. The last Sunday before kicking off Lent in full reminds us of this lost paradise. That loss of being near to God and walking with Him. In his book, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, Fr. Alexander Schmemann says,
“By now we know that man was created for paradise, for knowledge of God and communion with Him [See his section on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son!]. Man’s sin has deprived him of that blessed life and his existence on earth is exile. Christ, the Savior of the world, opens the door of paradise to everyone who follows Him, and the Church, by revealing to us the beauty of the Kingdom, makes our life a pilgrimage toward our heavenly fatherland.”
And as C.S. Lewis so succinctly puts it, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” This is merely conjecture on my part, but maybe the reason the world around us and we ourselves become at times so fixated on finding that perfect love that fulfills all of our needs either in another person or something else is because we have forgotten what, or rather Who, love really
There is perhaps no better place to read and rediscover this true love than in the pages of St. John’s first letter where he says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” And so, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is good to remind ourselves of this when we ask, “Am I in Love?”