These are the opening lines in the book that I have been holding so dear since I was seven. I remembered that Sunday afternoon when I bugged my mom to purchase for me this cartoon book on the life and call of Peter. I never knew it would be the answer to the longings of my heart 17 years later.
Months ago, I felt the pangs of heartbreak. When all along I thought I had the relationship I longed to last forever, it turned out to only be that part of my life where I would derive the lessons of life that would last.
It has been a painful journey of picking myself up each and every time I would remember. Nights would come in remembrance. News would come all of a sudden. When you’ve thought the storm was over, here came another wave of hurt. Nonetheless, it has also been a journey where I was able to discover who I am and who God wants me to be. It has been a journey where I finally felt the fullness of God’s love. He never let go of my hand. He always peppered me with affirmations to rise and continue walking.
Sure, we do know He loves us so much. We have been reminded of that at points we see images of His cross. But it is only when you are down to nothing, it is only when you get your heart so broken that you are opened up to the essence of His cross. It spelled nothing but love! Pure, unconditional, selfless love!
I thought love needed to be reciprocated. I thought love wouldn’t be love until you find another to love you in return. But as I attended the World Singles’ Congress, Jesus made me feel what true love meant. What the popular 1 Corithians 13 verse meant. Loving is holding nothing back! It needs not to be reciprocated. True love is seen in the merciful image of the cross. True love is having a heart of charity towards those who have hurt us. To decipher that would take forever to understand. I remember having that weeping moment in my WSC quarters when I told the Lord how hard it was to truly love, how crazy He was to even go to the point of death because of a love that never asked for anything in return. He was crazy to be man to experience the heaviness of the cross, the shame of being ridiculed, the betrayal of the ones closest to him, the pain of the nails. I could never understand the fullness of His reasons up to this point, but He gave me a glimpse of what He felt…that raw, excruciating pain of going beyond what is expected and loving my enemies to the point of forgiving them. Love truly meant taking no offense. It is kind. It does not judge. The human mind may not logically put an answer to it, but the Spirit does. Loving to the point of death. Loving until it hurts no more.
I return from that mountain-top experience of love. He has loved me first. He has chosen me first. Who am I then not to give that same love to others, especially those that hurt me the most? Who am I not to pray for them when the world tells otherwise? If the Lover of my soul has bestowed on me more than mercy but LIFE itself, then who am I to deny mercy?
This is my conviction: I dare to love. To truly love just like my Savior loved. I dare to go beyond what the world may tell me on how I should love. Because to love truly is to truly live. To dare to live, to dare to choose God, is likewise to dare to love.
Wherever He might lead me from this point on, I will choose to love again. If the cross will be my path to holiness, then I choose to love again. If this will ultimately lead me to the deepest desire of any human soul, that is to meet in a heavenly embrace the Giver of Life and Love, then I choose to love again. My life will be a story of love because from the start, my God chose me and my God chose to love.