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Past the Lovely Side of Love

“Love costs all we are / and will ever be” declared Maya Angelou in her poem, “Touched By An Angel”. It’s a statement that can make one discouraged after fully realizing what it means. No one would want something that costs everything he is; if we could gain everything we ever wanted without paying a price, we would. Why would we sacrifice when love is supposed to give us joy and satisfaction?

Not once have fairy tales told us that the prince and the princess had to go through more struggles and hardships during their “happily ever after”. Fairy tales have left us the impression that once you’re together with your beloved, everything that follows — loving and staying in love with that person — is easy, effortless, and yet, everlasting. But, it’s not like that in reality.

Many times in our lives we realize that a person isn’t as likable or lovable as we first thought he or she was. For example, someone who seems to be the perfect friend may turn out to be an irresponsible group mate; an acquaintance you may have found respectable could actually have an unpleasant personality; and newly-wed couples find out all the tiny, annoying details about their spouse which make living together difficult. Why would we put effort into those relationships with people who aren’t anymore likable and are so difficult to love? Why can’t we just cut ties when we are no longer happy being with those people?

We want to be happy so we form relationships. But, relationships aren’t about our own happiness — they shouldn’t be about us at all. We must go beyond enjoying being with another person with all the memories, conversations, and kilig that come because a person deserves more than to be liked for what is likable in him — a person deserves to be loved in spite of all his defects.

It is difficult to go from considering only our own sentiments to truly trying to help the other person grow and become the best version of himself. After all, feelings and infatuation — what motivate us initially — wear off. Feelings only leave us though to allow us to choose to love. And the love that every person deserves starts when we stop thinking of ourselves, of what we can gain from our relationships, and of what the other person is to us. It is especially hard to love in those moments when someone is least likable, when he is least lovable, but, those moments when we most want to give up on the person are the ones when we can love him most.

It does hurt. It always seems that there is no immediate consolation for sacrifice; what there is is a consolation that comes gradually — one that comes in the form of joy. It comes with knowing that your love is making your beloved happy and is changing him for the better. It is a happiness that arises when the worst parts of ourselves have been destroyed by the love we have given. There is also bliss in forgetting ourselves because that is when we can start to see the world as it is.

The reality that the price of love is heavy and that it requires us to be the last person in our own thoughts is daunting, but it is also worthwhile. And now, we can understand why Maya Angelou ended her poem with this: “Love costs all we are / and will ever be. / Yet it is only love / which sets us free.”