Right now my baby is living off love. He needs his parents for every little thing from food and shelter to reassurance when he has the hiccups. Most of his clothes have been bought or made for him by people who have never even met him, people who care about our family and who were glad to know that he was born. He is a labour of love.
And so am I.
And so, on a grander scale, are we all. We are not only the product of the intense love of the creator, who begot the whole of creation our of the love relationship of the trinity, but we are redeemed from our sin by the sacrificial love of Christ. And here we learn what is the greatest love of all - why it is that I can’t express enough love for my child or for my husband in hugs or words. “Greater love has no man than that he should lay down his life for his friends.” I cannot hold him close enough, because only in personal sacrifice can I truly love as deeply as the perfect love of Christ.
Perhaps I will never be called upon to imitate Christ in the ultimate sacrifice, even if I did, I can’t wait my whole life to be martyred before I begin to offer sacrificial love. What I can do now, is offer my body and my life willingly as a servant to the child who needs it so fundamentally and to my husband to whom I have vowed myself. I offer them my time and my talent and I sacrifice to them my ambition, and in so doing, I offer all of that to the Lord, for it is in serving others that we are able to serve him.
And I realise that there was a time when I held my child close enough to express the depth of my love for him. When he was in the womb, I surrounded him, I sheltered him and fed him from my body and I longed for him and did anything I could to protect and nurture him. In pregnancy, the mother’s body is sacrificed for the needs of the child. Her vanity is checked as she changes in shape. She is unable to live in the way she did before, she takes fewer risks. The pregnant mother accepts discomfort when it indicates that her child is healthy. And all of this is the least that the child deserves. Sacrificial love is written into creation in parenthood.
Love is not easy, it is draining, truly draining, deliberately draining oneself of 'self-love' and choosing to live for others. It must be rare to find those people who have learnt to love completely, some of them we call Saints.
In writing about love, I have realised that I am a long way from mastering the art of loving, I am merely practising.