In Advent, we walk half-knowing but wholehearted towards love. As the song says, ‘Love came down at Christmas.’
But as you walk, you may notice that love on earth is difficult; confusing even. The word is used a great deal – but what does it mean?
If you wish to love, you best remember what happened long ago. And be prepared for a shock.
When you were young, you were fed a drug which has been difficult to break free from.
You were given a taste for the drug called appreciation or approval or attention. (It has different labels.)
Or perhaps your drug was success, control, prestige, perfection or power.
You were young, you didn’t know. How could you?
But in one way or another, you became addicted to your drug, and now you dread its loss.
You have live in dependence on it and have lost your freedom in the world.
When things go wrong, you are on your knees again, begging for its comfort again – the comfort labelled encouragement, reassurance, control, correctness, achievement or power.
Such comfort brings tension to your life, distorting relationships both with others and yourself. And it doesn’t last.
Yet still you crave it, for without the drug, you fear some dark unspecified terror will overwhelm you…
And here’s the thing: we cannot offer love in such a state. Neediness is not love. Neediness strokes and manipulates others; but it cannot love others.
If you wish to love, you must first live freely in the world – live in a world where no one has the power to make you happy or miserable anymore; a world where you demand to be special to no one…and call no one your own.
And if you wish to live quite free, you must give up your drug.
Write a letter to it. Write a letter to success, prestige, perfection or approval – to whichever drug has you in its pocket.
Write to them as a lover ending the relationship: ‘We’ve been close, you’ve always been there for me – but we can’t go on like this, I need it to end, you only damage me…’
(With thanks to Tony de Mello)