I believe in the healing power of love. I believe in love’s ability to transform and mend a broken life. I believe that we’re called to love one another, beyond ourselves, with a love that only comes from above. As Gandhi once said, “Where there is love there is life.”
I’ve spent a majority of my life feeling like I’m unlovable. Rarely would my parents hold me or tell me that they loved me, and through this I perceived their behavior as a lack of love for me. The weight of feeling worthless fell heavier on me with each passing day, and I began to search for anything to take that pain away. Countless nights I’d stay up alone in my room, trying to understand what I might have done to not deserve their love. An overwhelming self-hatred took over my mind and spilled over into my actions. However, I didn’t want anyone to know how badly I was hurting because I didn’t want to be rejected. In the presence of others, I learned to carry myself happily. But when I was alone I could no longer pretend. Often I would wait until everyone was asleep and I could take a few pills to relax. Many times I just wouldn’t come home at all. My nightly behavior took over my days, as well, and I became addicted to various drugs to get me through. The hatred I had for myself grew, and I couldn’t stand to be in my own skin.
In the midst of this, a married couple that taught at my high school began to spend time with me. They spent time with me daily. They were fully aware of my drug addiction and watched as each day I detached myself a little bit more from life. Never once did they try to change me; they simply loved me, in spite of myself. No one had ever done that before. At first it irritated me. I didn’t understand it; however, they still loved me. After a while, I told them of my plans to end my life. I told them that I didn’t want to do it, but I felt that I had no choice. They didn’t judge, nor did they plead with me to reconsider. Instead, they loved me unconditionally and truly listened to all of the thoughts that no one prior had taken the time to ask about. As theologian Paul Tillich has said, “The first duty of love is to listen.” This couple took time daily to listen to me and through that taught me what love truly is.
It has been five years since I originally met this couple. I’ve been drug free for two and a half years now, and I’m loving life more than I ever imagined possible. Life is a battle, but it is worth the fight. I believe that love offers redemption that heals. And I believe that love truly has the power to transform a broken heart and give it life.
Elliana Grace is studying counseling at Liberty University. Her desire is to work with troubled adolescents. In addition to writing, she enjoys music, reading, and spending time with loved ones.
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