Why is love greater than anything else? Because love alone meets man’s deepest need, woman’s deepest need, and a child’s deepest need, and that need is to be accepted where I am, as I am.
Loneliness is a battle that takes place between two persons who live inside you within your soul. No person is so integrated that he is only one self. But deep within us, there are many conflicting persons. Life is a crew of people within us, struggling to take over the helm.
Look at these two people within you. There is one person reaching out for love, like a little child in a candy store grasping for candy. This person reaches out desperately, anxiously, almost hysterically for love and understanding. But there is another self who, like a father holding back a child’s hand in a candy store, says to your grabbing self, “Look out! Don’t grab so fast. You might get hurt. You might be rejected. You might not be accepted. You don’t want to love and be rejected, do you? Love is a risky business, you know. To love is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be accountable. To be accountable is to run the risk of being rejected. To be rejected, you run the risk of all risks, and that is that you might end up hating yourself because others don’t love you.”
And so the lonely person is the one who listens ultimately to fear instead of to faith. The lonely person is somebody who listens finally to the self that says, “Be careful. Don’t take any chances. Don’t make any commitments. Don’t get involved. You might be rejected. You might get hurt.” And if that’s the voice you listen to, you will have your freedom intact, but the price you pay for your freedom from involvement is loneliness. One reason our society is so infected with loneliness is that the spirit of selfish freedom has become so widespread. So we don’t want to lose our freedom by getting involved. We don’t want to lose our freedom by running the risks of making long-term commitments.
We have a lot of lonely people today because the price of unwillingness to make permanent commitments is to live on a level of interpersonal relationships where all relationships are temporary. When you are hurt, like infantile children who pack up their marbles, you can go your way and find yourself free again. But remember, one day you may land in a hospital for major surgery and discover that nobody knows, and nobody cares! Unless you are willing to surrender some freedom to make permanent commitments, prepare to pay the price, loneliness.
Love ends loneliness, but love has a price tag. The price tag of love is commitment to continuity. Like say in marriage, what makes it more important than a piece of paper? One thing, and that is when you say, ‘I love you and always will love you, even when your skin is wrinkled.’ That is when you are going to need it more than ever.