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My (Im)Perfect Love

The thing with prayer is it always gets answered even if not always right away. I have been praying to God to improve my love so I may serve Him and my brothers and sisters better. I must say that today I am no longer the same person I was two years ago before I returned to the Catholic faith. Back then, I hated people. I imagined killing them as revenge. Oh yes! That was how bad I was back then. Not anymore.

The thing is, though, the more you improve, the higher the standards become. Back then I needed to stop hating people and wanting to murder them. Back then I thought it was enough to not hate people. Nope, said God. He told me I needed to love them too.

Ok, so now I’m loving people, and I’m loving the fact that they love me back. I thought that was enough. I thought I’ve reached the highest possible achievement for human love. Nope, said God. He told me I needed to love those who are difficult to love too.

I have failed that standard in many ways and I’ve always had to go to confession; but recently I have failed that standard in a way that truly shocked me.

I had just bought an ice cream cone at a convenience store when I came across a homeless kid. He wasn’t a cute, harmless kid. He was one of those kids who are jaded by the world’s indifference to poverty and know how to adapt to get a meal. He used puppy dog eyes to make me pity him, but being a city-born and bred girl, I knew that if I didn’t give him what he wanted, he would hurt me or grab my food or whatever else.

My instincts kicked in. It was fight or flight, but I wasn’t going to run with an ice cream cone in my hand. When he approached me, I said to him in an angry voice, “Get away from me or I’ll hurt you!”

He went away and the Catholic guilt trip started. Like I said, the more you improve, the higher the standards become. I had acted on instinct, but Catholic perfection must overhaul human instinct with Divine instinct.

That is why this particular failure shocked me. I saw myself as a sinner, as someone who instinctively chooses hostility over love. What would happen if God acts with human instinct? If people mock Him and get angry at Him, God acting with human instinct would fight back and hurt these people. Fortunately, God isn’t like that.

So my prayer remains essentially the same until my death, but I will add more to it:

Improve my love so I may serve You and my brothers and sisters better with a love that comes naturally and effortlessly, like the way You love.

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