by Justin Teeuwen
In our fast-paced, consumer-driven lives here in the western world, it is easy to become consumed by our own needs, desires and wants. Television appeals to our basic instincts, drawing us in towards a deeper thirst for the short-lived. We yearn to have the best things life has to offer: the best house, the best car, the best stereo, the best body, even the best friendships and the best relationships. I’m reminded of the quote from Matthew 6: 19-21: “Do not store riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.”
Everything that we have here on Earth is impermanent. Most of us are aware of this but what has been awakened for me lately is the realization that our relationships with others are also impermanent. At some point, we are all taken to become one with all of creation. Moreover, our concept of love for each other is flawed: we love others and oftentimes have expectations of what that love should bring to us. There is inevitably a selfish component to our relationships, and our love. I’m not advocating that people become purely selfless. Although this would be ideal, many would end up in relationships where they were hurt or abused, and this is of course not what a relationship with another is supposed to be.
However, I am reminded of God’s selfless love for us. No matter how much someone loves you on Earth, God’s love for you is eternally greater. God loves us unconditionally – we are free to be who we are, like what and who we want, do whatever we like, and God will love us just the same. Further, God doesn’t love us in spite of our flaws; God loves us because of them. Our flaws, which are an intrinsic part of our humanity, give us the opportunity to rise above them. God loves us especially when we fail to rise above our flaws, because it is at this time we are needed to be loved the most.
This realization has come to me at various times. Most recently, it came to me when I had felt lonely despite being in a crowded room full of people. I felt like no matter where I went there were conditions for which love was given. It was then that I felt an overwhelming presence, a silent reminder from God perhaps, that I am loved, and we all are loved, in a deep, intimate and personal way. Let us not forget that love, and keep it close to us in the brightest, and darkest, times in our lives.