I found a tiny leaf floating in one of the fountains on my college campus. Even though it was smaller than an inch, it immediately caught my eye. Excitedly, I plucked it out of the thin film of grime covering the stagnant water. A small tear on its top right corner had allowed all its color to be fully washed out by the fountain water, leaving it almost completely translucent. Bleached of its color and utterly lifeless, it must’ve been a pity inducing sight to the leaves nearby still clinging tightly to their tree’s branch; nevertheless, its very state of being so far from what an ordinarily beautiful leaf looks like caught my eye. Its lack of chlorophyll gloriously displayed the perfection of the structure of its veins and its tiny tear beautifully showcased its delicateness and resilience. Still wet, bleached, and torn, I held it against the sun; it was breathtaking—magnificent.
The other day I was telling my friend how amusing I found the fact that many of the couples I encountered resembled each other in physical appearance. I laughed this off as proof that the ego loves to see itself reflected in interpersonal relationships.
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
As an enneagram type 4, I bask in the tension of difficult questions which may lead to introspection on an area needing growth; however, I’m slowly realizing that for others the experience may not be so pleasant. I usually ask my friends deep, pointed, sometimes uncomfortable questions. Thankfully my friends understand these questions come from an eagerness to better understand them, and out of love, they tend to indulge me with an answer.
This morning I came across this powerful Thomas Merton quote in one of my favorite podcasts, Typology, hosted by Ian Cron. “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them”. It inspired me to begin to text my significant other a good morning message which included this quote and an investigative question— What aspect of me is something you love simply because it is a reflection of you?
I do agree that sometimes it’s difficult to face inward and acknowledge our shadow self because it chips away at our desire to believe that we are good. Nevertheless, I challenge you to reflect on the why behind your love.
Is your love conditional to whether or not people allow you to twist them in your image?
If so, I encourage you to think and make a conscious effort to love and accept each person you encounter as the unique individual Christ created them to be and likewise grant yourself the same kind of freeing love.