Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary defines love in this fashion:
LOVE. To will good to someone. Also to please someone, either by sharing with that person what one possesses or by doing what someone wants. Basically there are two kinds of love. The love of concupiscence, or self-interested love, means that another is loved for one's own sake as something useful or pleasant to the one who loves. The love of friendship means selfless love of another for that person's own sake, for his or her good, to please him or her; it is the love of benevolence.
Like most humans, I have been guilty of the love of concupiscence, or self-interested love. I have loved others as something useful or pleasant to me. Especially when I was very young, I saw the world through the veil of self centeredness. I love you, but what have you done for me lately?
Have you made me feel happy? Complete? Have you satisfied my sexual drive? Have you made me feel pretty and wanted and desirable?
If you haven't, how can I make you love me? Can I manipulate, lie, cheat, arouse jealousy or insecurity in you so that I can then say, "See? They do love me" even if I was saying that in the dark recesses of my own heart, never daring to give those thoughts a voice? Even if, after causing you pain in my quest to get you to prove you love me, I was disdainful of your actions?
Slowly, surely my ability to love has changed and the type of love I feel towards you has changed.
As my relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church has deepened, as my dependence upon Him and His Teachings has become stronger, my focus has (of course) shifted. I rely less and less upon how others see me or want me to be to feel loved. It has been a tough journey, filled with a lot of heartache, but it has been a journey well worth the steps.
I have been called self-centered and full of self-pity for asking for prayers. I reject that - it is not true, but it still hurt to read it (which was, of course, the goal of the writer).
I have been called a lunatic because I don't stand for blatant bigotry, especially from those who claim to 'love everyone'.
I have had people demand I behave in a certain way in order to prove my friendship and love.
I have had Faithful Catholics tell me I dress wrong, that I not devout enough and that I need to do more.
I've lost friends and family because I am pro-life, hold to all the Teachings of The Catholic Church (bar none) and refuse to be defined by a political party (equally despised by the far left and the far right).
Through it all I have stayed sober, made mistakes, gotten angry and defiant, committed sins and had to go for absolution and make appropriate amends or apologies. I have grown up - kicking and screaming, of course, because that's what people like me do - we don't like the process but we love the results. Trust me, if I could have found an easier way to grow up I would have done it. The way I seemed to have chosen has been one freaking rough road.
A well worn, well traveled road - and a road worth taking.
Probably my biggest remaining fear is one faced by most of us - I am afraid I will be all alone some day, without family or friends to share holidays or special occasions with or without any little ones in my life to squeal "Auntie!" when they see me and then demand I play legos with them.
Well, that may be the case but I will never, ever be able to fear being unloved again.
Last night, a group of women, lead by an extraordinary lady of grace and dignity, presented me with a check for almost $1800.00.
It is a gift. A gift from their hearts to mine. They raised the money themselves, trying to help me offset the cost of the veterinarian bills incurred during the attempt to save Duffy.
They held garage sales and yard sales and donated items and cleared out closets. They did it out of the goodness of their hearts and without any hesitation.
Giving me the money was wonderful but they gave me so much more than that; these ladies gave me a gift of acceptance and love. The squirrely little ex rock and roll wild child turned Catholic Catechist who fears being left at the side of the road, watching the caravan go by, was unequivocally shown that she matters.
I matter to God and to His Church. I matter to family and friends.
It matters how I walk, talk and act - what I do matters.
It can't be all about me - it has to include you too.
The check was lovely and it will take care of a big chunk of the bills I incurred but even if the check had been for 5.00 what it conveyed was so much more.
I'm not alone. I never will be alone.
Thank you, God...thank you for showing me that if I just keep to Your Path, more really will be revealed - and the revelation will be FABULOUS.