At a seminar, a young Jewish woman named Miriam tearfully reported that she was in love with a Muslim man, but her father forbade her to see him. This created a terrible quandary for her, since she could not reconcile her love for this man with her desire to honor her father’s wishes. Miriam wrestled with this issue for a long time and a year later returned to another seminar, still distraught.
A few months afterward, Miriam mailed me a copy of a letter she had written to her father. The letter was a masterful communication of honesty, clarity, compassion and purpose. She told her father that she loved him very much and appreciated all that he was to her, but she had to follow her heart and be with the man she loved. As I read Miriam’s letter, I realized that she had finally claimed her power and stood up for her truth.
A year later I received a photo of Miriam’s wedding; and a year after that, a photo of her newborn child. Meanwhile, Miriam’s father came around to support her.
Miriam’s journey to marriage and motherhood, including healing her father issues, was perfect for her spiritual growth. She had to dig deep into her heart to discover her truth and live it, and she ended up with what she wanted. Her coming to make her monumental choice was an exercise in love.
A Course in Miracles tells us: “A happy outcome to all things is sure.” That may seem hard to believe if you fear that if you do not control every detail of your life, and perhaps the lives of others, things will fall apart. But when you trust the process, things usually fall together. That may seem unlikely if you are in the middle of a difficulty, yet easier to recognize over time.
At some point each of us must decide which is more powerful: love or fear. This can be a difficult decision in a world that worships at the altar of fear. Turn on any newscast, study financial reports or listen to conversations at the water cooler and you will hear a pervasive agreement that things are bad and getting worse. Yet, if you do not go into agreement with such a dire belief, you do not inherit its results. You have the power to live in a love-based universe even while others pander to one that seems fear-based.
Gandhi said, “The pure love of one soul can offset the hatred of millions.” I saw a literal demonstration of this universal principle when I watched a video of Mother Teresa, who, during a war in Beirut, decided to go into the ravaged city and rescue a group of children from a hospital. When she informed the media that she was going to enter the city with a group of nuns in several trucks and remove the children, the warring factions declared a cease-fire. The video showed soldiers standing humbly on the streets watching the trucks pass. Mother Teresa and her entourage completed the operation and departed the city amidst a rare silence of gunfire. As soon as the nuns and children were outside the city limits, the soldiers began shooting again. Behold the power of one pure act of love to silence a war.
Love does not fight against anything; it simply stands for itself. At another time, Mother Teresa was invited to speak at an anti-war rally. She refused, stating, “I am not against war. Being against war is just another form of war. If you had invited me to speak at a pro-peace rally, I would gladly come. But I will not add more war to war.”
Consider if you have any choices before you that can be boiled down to fear or love. Human beings have a certain propensity to move from fear at first instinct. Yet, if you can take a few moments to step back from the upset, breathe, and ask yourself, “What would love do here?” you will likely see options that you did not recognize when you were embroiled in upset. It takes two people in fear to keep a conflict going. If one chooses love, that ends the conflict. I know many couples who were getting divorced or already divorced, and were engaged in ongoing warfare. When one of them decided he or she would rather give love than attack, everything changed. It takes two people to fight, but only one to end the fight.
February is Valentine’s month, a time when we celebrate love. While the holiday generally focuses on romantic love, there is so much more to love than romance. What we call romantic love often gives way to pain, while true love gives way only to healing and freedom. How powerfully we could change the world this month if we chose to deny the ranting of fear and act instead on the quieter, but infinitely more powerful, voice of true love.