God led the Israelites out of slavery and into the desert. There, they complained and grumbled: we would rather die in Egypt with our fleshpots, than starve out here in the desert!
Sometimes, we would rather die than truly, genuinely, extend ourselves to another. We have to leave the comfortable—yet isolated—land of the self. The process is so painful. We risk embarrassment and rejection.
Pope Benedict says that everyone has to undergo his own Exodus. “The path we follow toward genuine loving leads by way of losing oneself and through all the affliction of an Exodus” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and Love)
As we prepare for another Lent, we should take a hard look at the ways we avoid the Exodus journey. How many opportunities for love have we lost, simply because we didn’t want to go outside our comfort zone?
What is your Egypt, your zone of selfishness? Do you have a list of attributes that your future partner must fulfill, or you won’t give him a chance? Do you hide behind your introversion? Do you push others away by the force of your personality? Do you wield your faith like a club? Are you so fearful of rejection that you never take the first step? Is your Ideal spouse an impossible dream?
Loving another means transcending ourselves, coming out of our isolation and selfishness. This doesn’t happen just once in our life, when we “fall in love,” but instead is a rather painful process of letting go of ourselves. We are on this journey throughout our entire life. Every day that we are alive should bring more opportunities to love.
Let’s begin today.