Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Even in the worst of my addiction, I clung to the idea that I was still a good father to my children. I hated who I was and what I was doing, but I soothed my conscience with the belief that even though I was using drugs, I still loved and cared for my kids. I did of course have a strong emotional attachment to them, but mostly, I loved how they made me feel – giving my life some meaning.
In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, someone close to me exposed my lie though, telling me that I’d not been a good father, because I’d loved the drug more than my children. My life was supposed to be directed at their well-being, but instead, I’d allowed my own self-destructive appetite to control my behavior. I pursued only what I wanted, while insisting that I still loved them.
This is often the case with the addict. He says he loves his kids, but he consistently makes choices that hurt them, putting them in a distant second place to the drug. Ultimately, he loves himself above all, placing his will before anything else. He may feel some emotional attachment to his children, which gives him warm fuzzies inside, but he doesn’t truly put them first.
Many of us have done this, even if it doesn’t involve a drug addiction. We say we love someone, but we love them because of what they do for us. We love people like we love pizza – because they make us feel good. Our love is self-centered which isn’t really love at all. It’s just that we really like what someone does for us, but ultimately, we choose not what they desire, but what we desire.
In today’s passage, Paul said that’s not love. True love isn’t self-centered. Authentic love doesn’t focus on me, but rather on the other. If we really love someone, we will seek, not our interests or what they do for us, but rather, we will pursue that individual’s good, seeking what we can do for him or her.
Loving someone means wanting what’s truly best for them and then living accordingly. Love isn’t simply an emotion that makes us feel good. Love sacrifices self, always seeking the good of the one to whom it is directed.