I tear up every time my daughter watches Frozen and gets past all the blockbuster songs to the climax of the movie. What gets me is the scene where Olaf the Snowman explains, “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.” Within minutes of this epiphany Anna is willing to sacrifice her life for her ungrateful sister, who in turn finally realizes that perfect love drives out fear. It must be the most profound and Christian 10-minute segment ever found in a Disney princess movie.

Maybe part of the reason this movie chokes me up is because, by that definition, I can’t think of any human being who truly loves me.

I grew up in a broken home and my parents are still a mess. My husband has changed dramatically since we married and no longer even goes to church. My closest friends have moved away and I struggle to build new friendships.

My children do love me, for which I am very grateful. But I long for the self-giving love of adult relationships.

I do not write all this because I am looking for pity, though I admit self-pity is a constant temptation that I fight. I write this to personalize the painful situation that I believe most souls face!

Large swaths of the population have families just as broken and often much more so than mine. Thinking globally, it’s possible that the majority of the 6 billion people in this world probably go through their adult lives never feeling “truly loved” by another.

In a recent confession I was told that God calls some people to heroic sacrifices to make our hearts larger. And at the start of Lent Pope Francis warned us that those who are comfortable often forget about others and breed the “globalization of indifference.” So I am learning to give thanks for these challenges because my heart has more space for God’s love and can be more sensitive to the suffering of other souls.

In Scripture, God often explains himself to us by analogy to family relationships. God our Father, Mary our Mother, Christ our Bridegroom, fellow believers our brothers and sisters. But what happens when our experience of these earthly relationships is one of emotional pain far more than true love? Is it still possible to experience God’s true love?

I write to witness that you can know the infinite wonder of God’s true love in the Eucharist, even without having the experience of being truly loved by any other person. Many times after receiving the Eucharist, I have mystically and ecstatically felt the Real Presence of Christ flood my heart. Fed by the Bread of Angels, I am not empty – I can share this true love with my family and others.

At the prayer vigil before the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of sharing Christ’s love in today’s culture:

“[Evening is] the most weighty hour for he who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of broken dreams and plans: how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes was the wine of joy less plenty, therefore, the zest – and the wisdom – of life….

“To search for that which today the Lord asks of His Church, we must lend our ears to the beat of this time and perceive the ‘scent’ of the people today, so as to remain permeated with their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility…

“Grant us this creative charity which consents to love as Jesus loved.”

Have you ever been truly loved? If you have, challenge yourself to share that love with the hurting souls around you who have not been so blessed, and consider prayerfully how to “propose the good news … with credibility” to those who lack an experience of human love.

If you haven’t ever been truly loved, know that God does truly love you, and He can fill your heart even if nothing in your outward circumstances changes. Go with your empty heart to the Sacraments and let it be filled with the Grace that surpasses all understanding.

smaller ice love

Editor’s Note:  This story was originally posted in March.  It was lost due to some technical difficulties.  I reposted it today, April 8, and have tried to repost as many of the comments as I could find.

10 Responses to Have You Ever Been Truly Loved?

  1. MaryRuth says:

    Thank you for sharing. I found this very illuminating as I have a very different background. I pray my children grow up feeling deeply loved by my husband and I, as well as being able to experience God’s love through the Eucharist. I will keep you and others in my prayers today!

  2. Ginny says:

    Yes. When I noticed Jesus loving me at Mass and during Communion. I open my heart at simply let Him love me. Sometimes it isn’t easy and other things easily crowd in the way and cares and worries often distract me to ask instead of listening. However, His love for me is very obvious to me. I know I am loved. Sometimes it scares me when I notice His gaze resting upon my soul, but at such times I have to trust Him all the more because there is nothing I can do to make me measure up to that kind of love. It really is awesome, but it isn’t like the love I feel for my children or others, not at all. It doesn’t diminish those loves either. It clarifies them and let’s me know how to love them in a better way than I once did.
    On another note, the love I thought I needed from other people in my life I found in God. THAT was the love I truly needed and expecting this from others always left me feeling lacking. You cannot get apples from lemon trees no matter how long you stand under the lemon tree, it will not deliver a sweet, juicy apple into your hands. Realizing that the love I needed wasn’t available to me from others caused me to stop seeking it from them and thusly I ceased being hurt by their inability to give me what I thought I deserved or expected or for that matter what I saw so easily happening in other, less dysfunctional households. I sought the love in needed at its Source, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It took a while before I learned to stop looking longingly at the lemon trees and sought the apples I needed. I found it wonderful when I looked at a red delicious one day and realized it resembled the shape and color of a heart, the Sacred Heart, Source of all love and Who loves me with a Divine Love that loves beyond all telling. I’ve grown a bunch past all my old stuff and I am healing. Jesus is the answer. He heals in a gentle Way. Seek Him where He can be found. God bless. Thanks for the good topic. Ginnyfree.

    • Monica says:

      Ginny, I love your apple and lemon tree analogy! It’s so true that is the way to find the love we need and stop being resentful about what we don’t have.

      The only problem I’ve encountered is taking this perspective with my husband. While looking to God and not him for my “apples” helps me have peace and love him regardless of whether he loves me well in return, it seems like it has also enabled my husband to just keep tossing rotten apples my way. That isn’t good for HIS sanctification, which I’m supposed to be helping along, or for our children to see. It’s a fine and difficult-to-see line to walk.

      • Ginny says:

        Hello Monica. Yes, it is from the sad but true dept of life. Sometimes those we most need apples from only have lemons. Yet when we turn to God for the love (apples) we need, and fo accept that Love from Him, we become more loving towards those who are having lemony days. In lifting us up with Him, we find what we need and the pressure comes off our loved ones to supply what they haven’t got at the moment. It also allows His SUPERNATURAL Love to fill us and this Love which cannot be contained, pours out in new ways towards all of those around us. We find ourselves more loving and charitable towards everyone and the healing comes. And we do need healing in this way especially if we’ve soured a bit on a diet of lemonade lately, when we really wanted a nice warm apple pie. I love the analogy myself and have used it for a few years to heal from my own days in the lemon grove called my family. God’s love is transforming and it has begun to work on some in my family besides me. One thing I noticed for certain is that they notice the neediness I used to feel that caused me to smother love my two daughters is gone and they are comfortable just being themselves. I know they notice, though they don’t verbalize it as such, but we are healing and I thank God that He found a way to reach me to help me begin the process of change that was needed so He could heal us all. Understanding that some persons only have lemons to give at sometimes in their lives helps. Another analogy that I find healing is this one: you don’t go to the hardware store for bread. That means to me basically the same thing only I stretch it to mean the Bread of Life. People don’t have that, yet I need it to have life in me, so I meet Him in His Body and Blood and let Him be Himself in me. I let go and let God. It works. It really does. God bless. Ginnyfree
        P.S. Thank you God and Beth for the opportunity to share some healing words that work with others.

  3. Claire says:

    I have been truly loved and I thank God for blessing me in this way. I agree that I must strive to share that love with others who have not been similarly blessed. As Luke’s gospel tells us “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Thank you for sharing your story. I will say a prayer for you and your family.

  4. Leslie Sholly says:

    When I feel disappointed in the people around me, I “cast my cares on God.” But by the definition above, I have been truly loved–at least some of the time, because people are not perfect. Prayers for you.

  5. SL Hansen says:

    Really moving words. Just what I needed. Thanks.

  6. Therese says:

    Thank you for sharing this….I find your story very touching and relatable because I feel like it’s my life looking back at me. I’m so sorry you’re going through this…I wish I could do more to let you know that you’re not alone

  7. T says:

    At one point in my life I was focused on what I had not received. I was angry and hurt and I didn’t even recognize it because I had always been that way. I continually looked for what I had not received from my parents and what I wasn’t getting from my spouse. I was very aware that I had been short-changed and like you I “… longed for someone to care for me, or even just lend a hand with a cheerful spirit…”.
    Like you, I had been blessed to have “…mystically and ecstatically felt the Real Presence of Christ flood my heart. ..” But it wasn’t constant and I still longed for more.
    This is what helped me;
    1. I went for counseling with a Catholic therapist. He wasn’t surprised by what I thought were my husband’s most grievous transgressions. The dr. thought my husband’s actions were not optimal, but were common, and he taught me how to respond differently in order to maintain healthy boundaries and to help some of my needs be met. He helped me to see that as long as I looked to others, my longing and resentment and anger took up space in my soul, and prevented Jesus from inhabiting that part of my soul. He helped me to see that I needed to forgive and to let go in order to be able to move past this longing and anger. I got this intellectually but had trouble living it.
    2. I began to frequent the sacraments, particularly daily Mass and confession. I recognized that I needed constant grace.
    3. I read the book Unbound by Neal Lozano and sought Unbound prayer ministry. It helped me to forgive people more deeply and to erase many of the lies that I had internalized in my youth and brought with me to my marriage. It helped me to move the things I understood intellectually (from therapy )from my head to my heart. It freed up all this space in my soul to give and receive love.
    4. I asked the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph to adopt me. When other people call their parents, I talk to the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph.
    I think that coming from a dysfunctional background, I didn’t know what functional looked like and I tended to idealize it. All of the “longing” for love blinded me from the love that was available to me.
    I wouldn’t wish my background on anyone, but I have become very grateful for it. I think that if I had a more perfect life, I never would have turned to Christ. I guess He probably knew that and allowed my childhood to happen for my own salvation.
    My life is far from perfect but both my husband and I are changing and I can now see the love in his imperfect actions. I pray that he can see the love in my imperfect actions!
    You are in my prayers!

  8. Gemma says:

    I have never felt truly loved with that self-sacrificing love of a fellow adult, and it almost makes me cry to say that. But it’s something I’ve had to face and embrace after realizing it.

    Sometimes I get so tired of loving other people, of sacrificing, and going unnoticed. Does nobody see what I do for them? That has been so, so hard for me, especially because acts of service is how I often love others. It hurts when they NEVER notice.

    But I suppose, if nothing else, we can unite our suffering with Jesus’ passion. The concept of redemptive suffering brings me great comfort, as I see no near end in sight of my current state of life. I’ve gotten to a point where it comes more naturally to offer what I go through for other people. It’s still very hard, but I know Jesus can make me a saint if I try hard enough to develop heroic virtue. We can’t have an Easter Sunday in our life without a Good Friday. Maybe that Easter Sunday won’t come until the final judgement, but even then – it will be all worth it if we truly strive to be who He made us to be.

    There have been night where I have cried myself to sleep, and wrote angry letters to God. It’s okay to honor those emotions and get it out. But I have to remember everything happens for a reason.

    Earlier this year I was extremely burnt out and felt utterly unloved. It wasn’t until I was sitting in adoration (for 6+ hours) one day on retreat that I could remember feeling truly loved. It was so beautiful. Those moments are few and far between, but just remember my sister that we stand in solidarity with each other and God will make something beautiful of our lives offered to Him!

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