I once said that the measure of a man is found not in his strength, his wealth, or even his wisdom. Rather the measure of a man is found in the depth of his love, for it is in love that one discovers the enduring strength to overcome all obstacles, the joy that makes the smallest nothing seem greater than all the world's riches, and the most intimate truths that lend meaning and purpose to life itself.
While I do not disagree with my previous sentiments, I suppose an addendum must be made: for also in love can the deepest pains and most heart-wrenching sorrows be found. The nature of love is to be made vulnerable, the person that is loved is essentially handed the keys to one's heart, and may freely access any part of it. While the dynamic of a loving relationship with God is one sided in the respect that only one of the two partners in such a relationship is capable of failing the other, not so in a relationship between humans. I was once told that I must always remember that we are all human, and by our very nature we are capable of utterly failing each other at any given moment. No one is perfect, and sometimes our imperfection seemingly brings the world crashing down around us and those we treasure most.
The key, and consequently the truest test of love, is found in redemption. Through actions of repentance, selflessness, and care we are able to rebuild from our mistakes. Like a broken bone, once healed, we are stronger than we ever were before. The process takes time, effort, and more often than not considerable amounts of heartache, and we will always be tempted to simply flee our problems, hoping they will vanish. If only it were that simple.
Redeemed love is the most powerful force in the universe, it is the nature of our relationship with God, and it is the most concrete bond possible between two souls. The dynamic of redemption is matchless as, through rebuilding, flaws can be hammered out, oversights can be accounted for, and trust can be forged more purely than ever before. The easy road never leads to the best results. While a gentle stroll down a mountain path can lead to a pleasant meadow, it is only through the toil of climbing the mountain to its summit that one can bask in the glory that is the world laid out below him, and see farther than he imagined. While it is possible to find contentment in taking the easy road, the road filled with hardship is the one that leads a man to something astounding.
It is easy to trust someone who has never wronged you, it is difficult to build trust with someone who has wounded you deeply. It is simple to find happiness in a situation that has never afforded heartache, it is wearying to find solace amongst tumult.
However, the question that must be asked is -- without adversity, is it possible to understand peace? Without pain, is it possible to understand joy? Without betrayal, is it possible to understand love?
God answered that question for us. He, being the omniscient Creator of the universe and of every single one of us; He, the One who defines selfless Love based upon His own person; He, who has never wronged any creature in existence, allowed His most prized creation to stray, so that we could know how wonderful it is to be found. God could have taken the easy road, He could have not allowed Adam and Eve to fall to sin, He could have wiped them from the earth and started over, but He didn't. Instead, out of the selfless love He bore for His children, He not only pursued them into darkness, but ultimately accepted the full penalty of their mistakes upon Himself. The Author of history, the Inventor of life itself, the perfect God of the universe, out of the love He bears for His children, chose to Himself endure agony so that we might fully know the depth of His love.
So, while love is the source of our fulfillment and purpose, it is also through love that we experience our most devastating heartaches. The important thing is to remain steadfast, to sacrifice of the self for love's sake . . . for it is through selfless sacrifice that we find redemption, and it is through redemption that we encounter the deepest, most gratifying love of all.