LOVE & AMBIVALENCE
“Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 8-13)
But what about unrequited love? Or some other unhappy, or ambivalent, or misunderstood-in-some-way love? Is the Apostle also talking about the “messy“ cases of human love?
Yes, I think that is precisely what he is talking about. He is talking about love in the ambivalent context of this world, in which “now we see in a mirror dimly,“ and we only “know in part.“ The Apostle has come to accept this ambivalent context of love in the now, which is frustrated by our “imperfect knowledge,“ both of one another and of God, – rather than to reject, in bitterness or resentment, love’s abiding presence among us. Because he no longer “reasons like a child,“ and he’s given up “childish ways.“
So today let me accept the whole ambivalent business of human love, – which I don’t “understand fully“ in the now, – in peace. Because “I have been understood fully“ by God alone, Who knows all about me, and will give me to “understand fully“ His perplexing gifts, like love, imperfect in me, “when the perfect comes.“ Glory be to Him.