How do you love someone who doesn’t want your love? Liz Gilbert has the capacity to love the whole world, but she is struggling to love herself and to love and let love in when it comes to Felipe. She can love anyone she meets, so why was her heart closed to one man? Why was her heart closed to herself?
Felipe recognizes that Liz is afraid of losing herself to someone else. She has worked too hard at creating herself in the past few years (breaking herself down and building herself anew). It makes sense that she would be afraid to share her new life with someone before she is even sure that it is hers. But then, why is she so afraid to love herself? Is it possible to lose yourself in yourself? Are we the snake that’s chasing its own tail? What is Liz afraid of? Rather, why is she afraid of herself?
Liz knows first-hand that it is possible to make yourself miserable. When she is crushed and haunted by her own loneliness and depression, she almost forgets how to even greet herself as a friend. She needs to remind herself to even be friendly to her reflection as more than an accidental encounter with a mirror. She remembers this particular incident in Italy. In India, she learns to forgive herself by making peace with the ghosts in her past. It isn’t until Indonesia that Liz simultaneously learns to love herself and someone else. But how?
There is a boy in my class at Acts 4 Youth who has yet to speak to me. I have been going for months and he still treats me the same way he did on the very first day. How did he treat me on my first day, you may ask? I was walking over to help him with his resume on a computer that was clearly proving too frustrating for his temper. Before I was even close enough to see the whites of his eyes, he saw me coming and he shouted to the teacher, “Tell everyone that I don’t need any help.” But what I heard was, “Stay away from me.”
It’s hard to stay away from someone you love.
I am not a creep. I am not in love with an eighth grader. However, there is something lovable in all of these wacky, high-strung, goofy, gentle, loud, obnoxious, nervous, nerdy, eager boys. And even though this boy tries to act so tough, I even find his resistance to my love as loveable. I find it sad, but loveable.
I often find that I, like Liz Gilbert, love the whole world. I came home when I was younger with scratches all over my arms because I tried to hug a wild cat. Even as he was struggling, I was convinced that if he could only experience how reassuring some love could be, he would stop struggling and love me back. I have since learned that you cannot smother someone with love. Sometimes, the love they need is quiet and constant. Sometimes it’s silent. It’s invisible. I cannot stay with this boy forever (I can’t stay with him past April), but I hope that someday there is somebody more qualified to wait out his toughness or to hug it right out of him because he is not unlovable. He can’t escape love forever. Liz Gilbert learned to invite love in. That cat hopefully learned the comfort of a good hug. That boy will let someone get close enough to help him with his homework.
And so, how do you love somebody who doesn’t want your love? You love them anyway. You love them until they learn the meaning of ‘unconditional.’