Life was so much easier, back in the day when the only thing that mattered about a boy was that he be cute and like horses! But we are women, now, and love isn’t about an infatuation-attraction.
“Love is blind,” the old saying goes. Well, no, it’s not. Love turns a spotlight on the character of our Beloved. And on ourselves.
On the one hand, we have what Dr. Alice von Hildebrand called the “Tabor Vision,” seeing our Beloved in the divine light of who he was created to be at his best. This isn’t the sort of false vision that marks infatuation and emotional need; need tends to manufacture this idea of good and virtue, and, furthermore, build on it to create almost a character in a story we want to live out — something quite unrelated to reality.
But on the other hand, Love also shows us how our Beloved’s humanity plays itself out – in real time: what his flaws and weaknesses are, his temptations, his Achilles’ heel. And love won’t let us hide from these failings, nor pretend they aren’t there.
Seeing a person as he really is, and not as we want him to be, takes time. DF and I have been friends for more than twelve years. Twelve years is brief in retrospect, but seems interminable in anticipation. I had no hope, when we met, that we’d be friends now; I thought he was just one more person I was chatting with online who’d fade into the interweb echo chamber as we moved on from that web site and were occupied with the conversations of other people. As real life dominated. I didn’t know he’d become part of the fabric of my real life. And, because I wasn’t “In-ter-est-ed” (in my best Bugs Bunny as Madge The Beautician voice while I bat my eyelashes) the friendship developed on its own timetable, in its own way, with its own integrity.
There’s a reason I speak of liking DF, of my respect, admiration, and esteem for him: those were there first.
Love is a powerful force: it is concerned with our investment in the good of the Beloved. Even our serving that good (not a popular concept in a world that insists we demand our own rights and deserts!) — which involves some varying degree of self-denial.
But it also, at the same time, builds us and strengthens us, so that if we must stand alone, walk in solitude, we can do it. Love of the Beloved teaches us our greater strength and worth.