Love One Another! 2/2003 → a testimony
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these
is love. (1
Just six months ago I was a plain bum and a “playboy.” My life consisted of booze, cigarettes, nightclubs, easy pickups, and even drugs. I thought I knew everything there was to love, and that love and sex were one and the same thing. Actually, it was eight months before that, that I began to make sense of the words spoken by John Paul II: Do not say that you love one another, say: ‘we love each other in God – through His love’. And also: To love means to sacrifice oneself without demanding things in return.
Two years ago my father died in tragic circumstances. At the same time my girlfriend cheated on me. These two events sent me into a spiritual free-fall: nightclubs, promiscuous relationships, and escape through alcohol. On February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day (feast of the patron saint of lovers), I met Maggie. By that time I had hit rock bottom, and was very drunk. Appearing like “an angel in the valley of death”, she turned my life around by her love for me. I know now that it was Our Loving Father, who placed Maggie on the road of my life, so that through her pure love I might accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It is Maggie who led me down long and winding roads that I might be renewed in the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, like so many young people, we fell into the trap of impurity and premarital sex. Unable to withstand my advances, Maggie gave in. Her conscience bothered her for a good while. She felt she had betrayed Jesus, who had allowed Himself to be crucified out of love for us. Because of my past, I did not at first see how we were harming ourselves. Everything seemed to be okay to me. In my view, love and sex were the same thing. After a while, however, I came to realize that rather than bringing us closer, sex was actually pulling us apart. I began to understand the great mistake we had made.
Just before last Easter, during a retreat at our church, we decided to hand our problem over to God, and live in chastity. We found it very hard at first. We did not think it would be possible to forgo sex entirely, for it had been slowly taking over our love and enslaving us. However, in His merciful love, God has freed us from this sin. Although we still experience temptation, we are able to overcome it because we have allowed God into our lives. In moments of weakness we help each another. Friends also help by praying for us. As a result, our love has reached new heights. Filled with mutual respect, beauty, warmth, and above all purity, it has grown immeasurably.
Love is God’s greatest gift to us, but in order for it to be real, i.e. godly, certain conditions have to be met. Above all, love must be chaste, free of sexual demands, and based on mutual respect, trust and complete openness. This is only possible when both sides live in a relationship with God. Love also requires daily care, like the biblical vine that needs to be trimmed by the gardener in order to bear rich fruit. Love also has to be purified regularly of the “dirt” which our culture heaps on it. Such “purification” can take place before a shared confessor. Each couple ought to have a priest-confessor, who can walk them through life’s hardships. Couples should also talk to each other about their individual problems and worries. By talking, we adjust to one another – become like two perfectly matching pieces of a puzzle.
For Maggie and me, Jesus and Mary have become perfect examples
of man- and womanhood. The road to pure love is not straight or
easy, but every bump and hardship negotiated and overcome brings
lovers closer together and unifies them. Pure love is worth achieving.
The reward is great. Maggie and I believe in the words that Jesus
Christ says to us all, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes
to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never
be thirsty” (John