The older I get, the more I struggle with insomnia. The more I struggle with insomnia, the more questions I have about everything. . .the universe, my place in it, God. . .the typical unknowns that no one has all the answers to.
In my most recent battle with the shut-eye, the minute my eyes opened I was roused with this well-known inspirational verse bouncing around in my brain. “And these three remain, faith, hope and love . . .and the greatest of these is love”. Really brain? Ok, I’m game..let’s do this. So I’m pretty sure I’ve got a significant grip on what “faith” is. Spiritually speaking, faith is belief in things not seen which are based on an inner revelation rather than physical proof. “Hope” seems pretty straight forward. . .to wait expectantly for a certain outcome. Then comes the big one, the one that remains, outlasts hope and faith . . .the one thing most of us desire to have in our lives more than wealth, wisdom or fame . . .”LOVE”.
It is difficult for me to slap a one liner definition on the end of love. What is love? I know how I “feel” inside when I love someone. I know how I feel when someone loves me. I also find it rather easy to point out what love isn’t. If love is one thing, I’m sure that it could be defined as “selfless”. When we truly love someone and they are needy or hurting, we give of ourselves without any consideration for our own needs or wants. In my opinion, love is always an action verb, otherwise it is just another word in a poem that rhymes with ‘above’.
After pondering that love is the greatest thing we could aspire to, my thoughts went to another verse that expounds even further on the importance of love. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Wow! Now that is some serious sacrifice. I could give everything I own away to the homeless man on the corner, but if I don’t have love, I have ZIP. Even more seriously, I could be burned as a martyr for my own beliefs . . .but if I go up in flames while hating my neighbor, I’ve missed the boat and my sacrifice is meaningless. That is heavy.
And then the epiphany . . .
I immediately began to think about the biggest modern-day example of such a martyrdom. On 9/11, nineteen hijackers boarded U.S. airplanes. Each hijacker had tremendous faith in Allah, the one they call the one true God, the one they prayed to every day since they had been taught to recite the Koran. Even with such great faith, no doubt, their faith was equally matched and perhaps surpassed by their hope for great reward in the after life. The verse sprang to life for me. This is a picture on a very grand scale. Easy to recognize because of the enormity of the crime and the obvious evil associated with the deed. Faith? Yes. Hope? Definitely, yes. Love? Their hearts were so blinded by hatred for you and me, and every other American, including their Muslim brothers and sisters who were working in the towers that day, that they gave up EVERYTHING …for NOTHING!
So, what is there for me to learn from this middle of the night interruption to my much-needed beauty sleep? If I have a lot of faith and hope…who benefits? It seems that both of these are more for the edifying of one’s self. If my friend is depressed and really needs me to spend time with her, the fact that I have hope and faith are not really helpful to her in that instance. She needs action . . .she needs my love, displayed by showing up, hanging out and listening and holding her hand.
I also realize that when someone tells me how awesome the sermon was last Sunday but in the very next breath tells me how they absolutely hate the President of the United States or how they can’t stand their sister and never talk to her anymore…etc., I immediately feel a disconnect. It seems so inconsistent to me, therefore I have a hard time respecting anything else they have to say. Once again, I grapple with this question. If faith and hope are not completely enveloped in love, then what purpose do they serve? Apparently, a whole lot of nada.
After tossing and turning for over an hour, my mind was finally able to rest with a fresh respect for the beauty in the truth of “. . .and the greatest of these is LOVE.”