Realize that the goal of life is something like spiritual growth, which means aligning more and more with Truth and the Power of Love. The goal, ultimately, is to become increasingly more loving, to the point where our love becomes unconditional.
In times of challenge and adversity, that is when our ability to love is tested most. Can we love someone who is being mean, even hateful? Yes! It is possible. “Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases only by Love,” says the Buddha. Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is perhaps the greatest challenge to love those who seem to wrong us or do ill to us, and the greatest challenge to love in those circumstances is also the greatest gift, because in those moments we have the opportunity to truly be channels for Divine Love, Infinite Love. In those moments of greatest challenge, we can embody the Pure, Unconditional, Love of God. Of course, we can embody that Love all the time, but in those moments it becomes particularly clear whether we are divinely loving or not.
How can we be unconditionally, divinely loving in the time when it seems like all our buttons are being pushed at once, when it feels like we’re being hated and wronged in every way?
One of my favorite ideas around love is the idea of agape. I understand agape to mean a love for another not based on what they have or what they do or who they are, but a love for the infinite potential and divine essence of the other. Whether or not that other is currently being a totally open channel for the Holy Spirit and God’s Love and Will is not our issue to discern or not – we simply acknowledge that everything has that capacity, and we love for love everything for that capacity. The Divinity of all shines forth. Even if another seems hateful, we Love because we know they have the capacity to be a perfect channel for Divine Love, because they are Divinely created, and even we love them because by being hateful, they are giving us all the greater opportunity to practice unconditionally, universally, divinely loving. It is easy to love virtuous and happy people, and we know we’re making progress when we find ourselves experiencing immense love and compassion even for those who seem wicked and hateful. We can have divine compassion for them and for all humans dealing with the human condition. It is not easy!
Ultimately, we can realize that everyone is our teacher, and they are teaching us love. We can see that those who have caused us the greatest challenges in our lives are truly the greatest gifts from God. They give us that crystal clear opportunity to practice unconditional love, or to become all the more brutally aware of our blocks to love. Are we really going to withhold our love from someone because they are screaming or yelling or cursing? Because they call us names or steal from others or hurt others? Have we not done the same? As Jesus said to those who were ready to stone the prostitute, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” We have all trespassed against the natural law of Love, have we not? So we can have compassion for ourselves and for all – and we can see that none of the sin is really personal – it is just a result of the human condition. We love and have compassion for all embarked on the journey of life with the human condition – and we can choose to love no matter what, connected with the divine essence present with them always.
We love our enemies because they are our greatest teachers and provide the greatest opportunity to practice unconditional love. Our love does not have to be dependent on anything. Even to those that hate us, we can seek to give them something, to be generous toward them, and to love them. That is true freedom, peace, and joy.
We can always give thanks for the grand opportunity we have to love, to give, to serve.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!