UNENDING JOY – THE HALLMARK OF HEAVEN

The silver lining beneath every dark cloud conveys a glimmer of hope to succor anxious hearts. Silver linings become prominent only when the clouds are the darkest.

The pains and gains, sorrows and joys of life are relative and subjective. When the Covid pandemic struck the world towards the fag end of 2019 resulting in lockdowns and shutdowns making normal life difficult, nature had a gala time. There were images and videos being widely shared over social media of birds and animals moving around fearlessly in areas of otherwise busy human habitations, skies being clearer than in the decades earlier, seas healing up and natural colours appearing vibrant than ever before. Nature lovers savoured each glory that nature displayed – all while there was pain, suffering, deaths and tears going on in the background.

There is a cost for joy! Joy is never offered free on a platter. Consciously striving for joy never fetches it. You and I pass through numerous hardships and sufferings in the course of this lifetime, only to recognize ‘joy as joy’ when we come face to face with it (provided our senses haven’t been numbed by the intensity of hardships enroute meeting ‘joy’).

The story is told of a rich girl who married an aspiring young lad hailing from a poor family. The girl encouraged her husband to pursue his dreams and invested in all his pursuits. While he strived to fulfill his ambitions in a far away land, she waited patiently for him. Years passed by before fortune struck gold and days of prosperity flowed in. The man returned home to his wife with the jubilation of success, only to see his wife living a life of misery, sickness and loniless. She had sacrificed her all to see her husband joyous!!

No pain, no gain. No thorn, no throne.

However, it is not always so!

Not all pains end up in joyous gains. Not all thorns yield golden thrones. A woman having borne her child for nine months has short-lived joy of child birth when the same child raises his hand against her. So, I say that the concept of sorrow leading to joy is highly subjective and relative.

Having said that, I would also say that when joy does come after misery, no matter for how short a time span it may be, it is phenomenal.

We all yearn for joy in life. We wish and pray for misery to be shooed away from our lives and others. But if truth be said, as long as we are in the flesh, the pains of the life will cling on to us. We cannot taste ‘joy’ for what it is while we are in this world. The little trinkets of happiness are just silver linings which create within us cravings for joy.

Being a believer in the existence of heaven and hell after earthly life ceases, I look forward to the place ‘what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him’ – a place of absolute joy sans poverty, worries, anxieties, sicknesses and sorrows.

Our earthly cups of miseries would yield vials of joy in eternity if we strive to live our lives in acknowledgement of the Creator’s designs.

HOW TO MANAGE AN UNAVOIDABLE BARRIER IN RELATIONSHIP

We had a great week discussing the barriers in any sort of relationships, especially marital ones. As I was thinking about those barriers, I realised they are to be very common and known to all and we always can try to rectify our relationships by breaking them at some point in our life. But there are a couple of barriers that are unavoidable and unbreakable in life. I am gonna talk about one today.

Usually, a sickness enhances any sort of relationships. How? When someone is sick in the family, all others in the family display their love and care for that sick member and that exchange of loving emotions enhance the bonding between each member in the family. This happens when the sickness is temporary and short term. But in the case of prolonged sicknesses, the exchange of emotions take a different turn.

The whole world now knows I am born with a cardiac issue. Being so, I was the centre of attraction, love and care in the family. But for how long? There were frustrations, bitterness, impatience and irritation that I had felt in my family members along with their immense love and care. Their love and care for me were supreme but they did feel negative emotions creeping in, at times.

My Mom, for example, had to stay back from all the family functions or travels all because of me. I used to be sick and she used to be taking care of me all the time sacrificing all her fun and joy. She never showed it, never made me feel. But at times, it did show up through her anger and behaviour which were natural and unavoidable though I was just an infant to understand those feelings at that particular stage of my life. I heard the stories of her sacrifice later when I grew up.

In schools and colleges, generally, boys and girls rely mostly on their friends. My friends didn’t have that reliance on me when it came to any physical activity, helping someone or in sports. In that regard, my health condition became the biggest barrier to establish friendships with many. I never had the guts or condition or state of adrenaline rush which define teenagers or young boys and girls. This is the foundation of my bonding with peers at that stage of human life. I missed or rather failed to either build or even sustain a friendship basing on it.

The unavoidable barrier of sickness which I was carrying with me was still manageable or can be ignored in all the above relationships or friendships at those stages of my life but when I became a man and there was a need for the higher level of relationship, I faced a real challenge. I reckon I missed out on establishing many possible relationships in my life when I became an adult. And probably for my sickness, many have fallen out after falling in for me. That’s an assumption, I don’t know it correctly, so let’s cut it out.

When I actually got into a bond, a marital knot, I realised how my sickness became such a deadly barrier in my relationship with my better-half.

I remember, we went on a trip to the mountains. And at one point we had to climb up to watch the sunrise on Kanchenjunga peak (Part of the Himalayas). She had to stay back because I can’t climb up. She did it for the sake of love but there was a tiny trace of frustration and unfulfilling desire that remained in her heart. I encouraged her to go up with others later. She climbed up with others but there was a trace of not being together or being alone imprinted in her heart. In my case, I had that anger and frustration within me for not being a man for my woman when she needed me to be the one. And there were many such incidents that brought bitterness into our relationship.

Was there a shortage of love between us? No, not at all. But the charm or the glow of our love was missing. Blame it on the barrier, the unavoidable barrier called, sickness.

Almost all the time of our life till now, she has been doing the outside work, household work as well as taking care of me. Her love and sacrifice for me add so much value to our relationship but the bitterness, frustration, stress out of doing everything all alone and being deprived of a few of joys in a relationship suck off all the juices out of our bond. Blame it on the barrier, the unavoidable barrier called, sickness.

Individuals like me, who live with chronic sicknesses are always very aware of how much our partners do for us. I often feel very selfish and guilty for being such a burden to others, to my wife. One husband says, “My wife lives with the illness, and I live with her. So, in a way, I live with the illness, too”. And these reactions of our partners hit us all the more as we can’t do anything about our own illness. Although if we think from their point of views, we understand how hurting it is for them as well. Again, blame it on the unavoidable barrier called, sickness

How to deal with this barrier in a relationship if we can’t avoid it or break it forever? I can share TWO major ways how I deal with it, though I struggle a lot at times even when I apply all my own tactics.

ACCEPTING the fact
It is applicable for both the sick partner and for the healthy partner. A sick partner should not feel bad or feel guilty of being a burden to his or her partner and the healthy partner should accept the fact s/he has to live with it. Instead of grumbling s/he should find ways to live with it happily otherwise it becomes more taxing for both of them. Accepting also means, keeping the communication channel open to talk about each other’s deepest and darker feelings considering the vulnerabilities of the relationship they both are in. Due to ill health all the time, a couple often feel sad, angry and overwhelmed and it is of utmost importance if they both open up and encourage each other to talk about their feelings without being judgemental.  Accepting is also knowing and understanding the painful thoughts and emotions that pop into our heads due to the presence of chronic sickness of one partner in a relationship. I haven’t seen her treating me as a sick person but have always considered my ill-health by doing things before even I ask her to do. That is her way of accepting me and my share of responsibility on her shoulders.

ALLOWING unthinkable space (or grace)
These kind of relationships are rare and should be managed differently as well. A person like me who suffers almost all the days of the year needs space to regain my strengths, joys and happiness to live further. And this happens almost regularly as the sickness is a regular affair. Similarly, the other partner, who does everything for his or her sick partner needs an enormous amount of mental space and strength to stay encouraged. Instead of terming it as Allowing Space, I will call it Allowing Grace to each other to pacify the barrier of sickness in the relationship. I’ve learnt to just eat whatever she cooks. That helps her not to be so worried about what to cook and how to cook. I don’t even interrogate her about where she goes and what she does. That is my way of allowing space or grace for what she has been doing for me all these years. Allowing that grace to her is in my hand and I do it wholeheartedly. When I shout or don’t talk with people, she makes others understand the reason and they understand it. She doesn’t look into my mobile or inspect what I do all day. This is her way of allowing grace to me.

Have I overcome this barrier forever? No, I can’t. But I am still managing to break a hole in it to keep my relationship with her alive and kicking.

It will be amazing when we take responsibility of managing to break through any barriers and make each of our existing relationships a sanctuary where each person can be seen and loved for who they are. 

Stay Blessed!

MAKE SOME SPACE FOR LOVE

Set the alarm for the next day, have put the kids to sleep, hand cream ✔️, moisturizer ✔️, time to hit the sack and before calling it a day one important ritual to perform. Praying ❎, Reading a book ❎, Writing diary ❎, it’s a ritual followed more religiously, relentlessly – social media surfing. Yes, this is my confession laced with a teaspoonful of embarrassment and gallons of regret. What is so embarrassing and regretful about surfing the social networking / media sites, the world is on it. Yes it is but somehow it is not being utilised the way it was intended to. I understand this is becoming quite a confused narration and preachy by miles. Let me make it more comprehensible, let me give you a detour of my state of mind few days back.

Scenario 1: I have a moderately right leaning ideology when it comes to political view. So when I find material vis a vis reflecting or condonig the same, I proceed further to check the comment section. That’s the trigger point!! I find people disagreeing, that is still fine but people abusing particular ideologies, preferences, religious beliefs hurts and anguishes me the most. The level of discord within reaches to an extent of leaving me fuming within myself. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Youtube – the content I am consuming is giving me information but the anger /resentment it fans is unmatchable. Looking at disturbed me even my husband expressed his fear of me being overtly getting effected or absorbed by sort of lunacy that seeks validation of viewpoints.

Scenario 2: Due to my family issues I have no social life whatsoever. And a peek into others’ lives via Facebook or Instagram made me feel “what a life!!” (Others’ life) and “what life😔” (my side of the fence). This emotion is not a regular affair though, yet been quite an acquaintance.

So in the first instance it’s the anger and resentment and in the second scenario it’s self pity that filled my heart. And these strong negative emotions are nothing less than weeds that once start yielding can empty our hearts of its rightful owner – LOVE. Anger left unattended turns into hatred, self pity whereas have many cousins like dissatisfaction, jealousy, pessimism. And together they are toxins of higher order that engulfs our wisdom, dwarfing us to mere numbers for government records.

So what did I do? I deactivated my twitter, uninstalled my Instagram, Facebook (account still active, me not so ), unsubscribed from many channels on YouTube and watching roast, reviews, creative stuff for entertainment and otherwise

Did it help? Yes, to a great extent. Mind is slowly decluttering. I don’t see countries falling Left, Right and Centre the way it was being projected. I have no idea about the mood swings or brawls taking place before or after that rosy picture that’s being posted on Facebook, then why I am losing out my mind and peace instead of enjoying the knitty bits of my life. My mental detoxification trial period has given me an important realisation :

There’s more to life than lifestyles and a set of ideologies.

Then what is impeding us from loving our life? Probably consuming the content without filter and discretion. Be it propaganda, entertainment or simply brand endorsements, vulnerable minds are the targets. Conscious and continuous efforts are put in to fine tune our minds sometimes to an extent of us belittling and putting down ourselves (and others too). This slow poison slowly drains out the logic and love out of her head and hearts. This is one of the prime reason for so much discontent, dissatisfaction, disorientation, hatred, abuse we see around. Respect and love for the most precious gift of life is lost!! This calls for a caution:

Consume the content, don’t get consumed by it.

End Note: Be pragmatic precisely. Devaluing the life itself is highly unpardonable and no amount of regret can restore the time lost in drawing parallels and nursing grudges. Loving your life have varied connotations. Self love – from skin care to designing and deciding career it’s more about “me” and “myself”. And nothing wrong with that because it’s always better to be a participant in your own life than a mere spectator. Whereas the deeper and profound aspect of loving life means to respect it, to be content from within, to appreciate it, finding peace within and reflecting / spreading it to everything and everyone around. Being content doesn’t necessarily mean not driven in life but what makes a difference is what is that driving force – jealousy/competition or service/token of gratitude. If we love our life the factors mentioned later are our drivers. Spend some more time with yourself, do something that you love or always wanted to do, infuse the lost interest in your life, rekindle your love for your life.

Social media isn’t demonic or forbidden ground to foray. There is a plethora of useful information that we can very well put into use for our skill or knowledge enhancement. So many instances of inspiring lives (not lifestyles but lives) get featured on these platforms that not only touch or motivate people but capable of changing life stories of many. To say the least a good source of entertainment. But it all depends on what we absorb, what amount of restrain we can put forth, how conscious we are. The idea was to make lives better, isn’t it? Then why we are letting toxins fill up our hearts and pouring out the nectar of love – love for ourselves, love for others and love for life itself?? Something to ponder.

I have learnt my lesson, have you?

SHUN THE BARRIER

Love is a beautiful feeling, an integral emotion and a wonderful experience altogether. Yet, love isn’t everything. And people come at the crossroads where they realize that love isn’t working anymore. Disagreement, turmoil, shortcomings and other disturbances ruin love, the basis of every relation.

Ujjwala, found her love during her yoga classes. A man used to learn yoga along with her. It was love at first sight. Both got attracted to each other and became close friends. Though she was madly in love, she refused to settle down with him because his nationality was different and there were many religious and social constraints too. Consequently, they went their separate ways.

Many relations succumb to the pressure from the couples and end their relationships. But, some people also stand up against such barriers, not caring about how they will be judged and treated. However, when the people in relationships become the barrier, the relation is bound to break.

Another friend of mine was highly disturbed lately because money was being a problem in his relationship. It was getting difficult for him to live on a foreign land and maintaining an expensive lifestyle. Though his wife was earning equally good amount, she wasn’t contributing in household expenses and refused to do so. As a result, my friend has got an aversion for his wife now!

Emotional barriers also make the relationships vulnerable. Fear of rejection, lack of faith, past experiences, etc., can impact the current relation and resist the people in developing a deeper connection. 

Love is a vital energy, yet the feeling of being loved can be often taken for granted. Love knows no boundaries, yet the boundaries get created sometimes in a relation, knowingly or unknowingly.

Be understanding, forgiving and appreciating to remove the barriers to love.

“OUR Love must be TRUE and WE SHOULD shun all the barriers AND WHAT IS EVIL IN RELATIONSHIPS.”

THE SELF – A BARRIER IN EXPRESSING AND EXPERIENCING LOVE

Love, being an intrinsic human attribute and need, cannot be effectively caged behind bars. It always yearns for expression. However, love cannot always be expressed and/ or experienced sans roadblocks. Though love faces many barriers in its way, I will talk about one major hiccup to expressing and/ or experiencing love.

The fly in the ointment is none other than SELF.

A few examples –

Joy could never love his wife, no matter how hard she tried to please him. Joy knew this was injustice for his wife, but he did not want to deal with it. The emotional baggage that he was carrying was proving hazardous for his marriage. His mother had deserted him and his father when he was a child. His devoted father had raised him up single-handedly. He had often heard his father lament about his wife of few years whom he had loved a lot. When Joy got married, he decided not to love his wife so that if she deserted him (as his mother had done), he would not whine away the remaining years of his life. Joy erected HIMSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. In his desire not to get hurt by his wife, he was hurting himself and his wife and was leading a lovelorn life.

Koyna never wanted to enter into a relationship with a man. She saw her friends in stable relationships, but spurned all proposals that came her way. She had grown up seeing her mother at the mercy of her abusive father and had decided in childhood itself that she would never be with a man. There were times in which she felt lonely and in desperate need for the arm of a comforting man around her. But, she had determined that it is better to be safe than sorry. Nightmares of her childhood haunted her all the while. Koyna had erected HERSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. She chose to stay away from smelling flowers, lest she ended up being stung by a bee.

Shikha had an avoidant attitude towards all her colleagues. No one’s hospitality could prompt her to socialise with others. She sat alone during lunch hours, never went for staff picnics, never attended official parties and never spoke beyond work with anyone whenever she spoke at all. She was fighting an emotionally draining legal battle with her estranged husband. Her health had begun to slide downhill. Her colleagues knew it all and few of them showed genuine concern and love. But, Shikha had erected HERSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. Her aloofness was killing her from within and from without as she refused to admit entry to genuine care.

Robin was a chain-smoker. No attempts by his devout parents to make him quit smoking were ever successful. He had screwed up his academics and had no fear of God or man. His younger sister had fallen off the terrace to her death when he was six years old. He had never been able to come to terms with it. Initially, he had held God responsible for not saving his sister. Later, he went on to proclaim himself as an atheist, going out of his ways to defy the existence of God and condemn anyone who spoke of God. He held his parents responsible for having built no parapets on the terrace of their new house which led to his sister’s death. Robin had erected HIMSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. He could not experience God’s love. He was bitter within and venomous without as he rejected the healing that love provides.

The names mentioned in the above examples are fictional, but the stories are not. When we hoist ourselves as barriers in the way of love, the natural inflow and outflow of love is hindered. A build up of plaque in the arteries reduces blood flow to the heart which can eventually cause a heart attack. A blockage in the pulmonary vein obstructs blood from flowing out of the heart and similarly leads to heart failure. It is only when the obstruction or the blockage is treated and removed that smooth inflow and outflow of blood to and from the heart is resumed and the person gets better gradually.

Life events are not always fair. We do not have answers to all the ‘whys’ of life. There are episodes which are within our control and some which are out of our control that leave us shattered. When we carry the baggages of these events and obstruct the expressing and experiencing of love, we start stifling ourselves towards a death of our souls.

SEEK HELP REMOVE THE BLOCKAGE

It is injustice to self, to wallow in the bitterness of life events when help is available to deal with those emotional baggages. At times, the issues are ongoing ones and a one-time cure is not sufficient. At times multiple surgeries are required to remove blockages completely. Seek constant help from the source available to you (it may be from a friend, a colleague, parents, Counselor or any mature understanding confidante) so that the blockage is removed and the barrier-less inflow and outflow of love is resumed.

HELP REMOVE THE BLOCKAGE IN OTHERS

We may undoubtedly have people around us who have erected themselves as barriers to expressing and experiencing love. Sensible sensitivity on our part would help them come out of their self-made cocoons. A hurting person would not instantly welcome your intervention or accept your suggestion for seeking professional intervention. What helps make the way in such cases is prayer. There is no barrier that is impossible for God to remove. Fervent intercession on behalf of such people would gradually make them open to work towards demolishing the impenetrable SELF that has stood tall long enough to make their lives loveless.

There are many barriers to love, but a conscious erection of the SELF as a roadblock mostly goes unnoticed or is often ascribed to other more obvious causes.

SELF-LOVE IS NOT SELFISH

Self-love is a constant choice. It’s not a magical feeling that appears on one day. It’s a commitment to have your boundaries, your well-being, your mental and emotional health, and your body.

Let us first establish that self-love is very different from being selfish. I have struggled with this concept for ages. The way I grew up, I believed that I will be the nicest and most loved person on the universe if I put my own needs at the very end. The result was that at one of point of time in my life I felt like I was being used as a doormat by every other person in my life. I would hear my near and dear ones tell me – “Why are you doing it to yourself?” And I would just put up a smile and say that – “This is how I am”. 

Even though I believed that I was being the nicest person by putting my needs at the end of my priorities, it is not humanly possible to ignore your needs. My needs and desires manifested in other ways and I ended up committing some of the huge blunders which caused further complications in my life. I learnt it the hard way that if I would have taken care of myself in a healthy way at the first place, maybe everything would have fallen in place. 

Being selfish means being nice to only yourself at the cost of other’s wellbeing. Self-love means loving yourself and others keeping in mind your own and other’s wellbeing. A selfish person says – “I am the most important person and nobody else matters”. A person with self-love says – “I am as important as everybody else. My needs are as important as everybody else’s. I need to ensure that I am healthy so that I can take care of others.” 

There was a time when I would feel immensely guilty for spending money on myself. Any additional shopping or spending few extra thousand bucks in beauty parlor and I would end up feeling guilty overnights together. However, I would feel happy if that money is spent on my family members’ needs. 

It took me years to realize that I was indeed in a very unhealthy situation. It further took years of constant monitoring of my thoughts and actions to get myself on the right path. I had to come to a position where I could demand what I thought was right for me. I had to change my mindset to believe that my needs are as important as everybody else’s. 

3 years back when I started going to gym for the first time after my son’s birth – I realized how much I had ignored my body since last few years. 

Now, let me tell you a few things that I do for myself and myself alone:

  1. I take time out to meditate and do affirmations every day. It helps me reset my brain.
  2. I take time to work out every day.
  3. I ensure to budget some money for spending on myself every month.
  4. I keep a packet of dark chocolate that nobody else (even my son) supposed to eat. ☺
  5. I define boundaries in every relationship. I observe and monitor my decisions to ensure that I didn’t step on any of the boundaries. 
  6. I invest in my hobbies regularly now. 

This is just the beginning of the list, with everyday this list keeps growing.

My journey of self-love started a little late after I had already made a lot of mistakes over and over again. I was so busy blaming everybody in my life for not taking care of me and I didn’t even realize that I myself wasn’t giving any importance to my own needs. Once this realization came, a lot of things fell in place.

Love yourself instead of loving the idea of other’s loving you

HOLINESS IN LOVE

Love and holiness are concepts that might seem polar opposites of each other but are in fact intertwined with each other.

Love served on a platter of holiness tastes ambrosiac.

However, it is just as difficult to love wholly as it is to maintain holiness in love. Holiness in love does not refer to chanting the name of God ceaselessly or sermonizing on spirituality at all times. Holiness in love is a call to guard the sense organs and mental perceptions against unholy intruders just because you have decided to present your unalloyed self to a special person.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN HOLINESS IN LOVE?

· When you love a person, s/he is special. S/he occupies a place in your life like none other. It would be an injustice to present a deliberately defiled unrepentant self to that special person. You wouldn’t gift a broken pen or half-eaten chocolate to anyone, would you?

· There is a moral standard set in place against unholiness. Does it really matter? It does. Entertaining unholy intruders sears the soul and the spirit, just as it defiles the body. But, then who decides the moral standard? What may be unholy for you, may simply be fun for me. Why then drag morality into the picture and make a big deal out of it?

· We are created in the image of a holy God, who is love. Holiness is a part of our DNA. When we think of ways to fiddle with holiness, we fiddle with our DNA which is more than mere biology. Consequently, love gets the beating.

· Pleasures of holy love are richly rewarding. While the pleasures of unholy love offer momentary gratification, pleasures derived out of holy love are perpetually gratifying as it soothes the soul and strengthens the spirit.

HOW TO GUARD OUR SENSE ORGANS AGAINST UNHOLY INTRUDERS?

First, it is important to identify the unholy intruders. Be it having fun at the expense of a dirty joke, flirting, watching soft/ hard porn, mere sexual fantasizing or physical intimacy before/ outside the marital relationship – these are unholy intruders into the holiness of love. These intruders destroy all the potentials for enjoying love to the fullest extent. Hence, it is vital to identify them.

Second, erect mental and physical barriers. The next step after recognizing the unholy intruders is to block their entry. If you have more idle time, develop a constructive hobby. If you have peers who challenge you into entertaining any of the unholy intruders, part ways with them. If your body secretes high levels of hormones which push you towards welcoming the unwanted intruders, build up a regimen with the help of professionals to deal with it.

Third, say NO to experimentation. Thomas Alva Edison once burned down his lab in the course of his experimentation to discover the incandescent bulb. Alfred Nobel blew up quite a few rocks and boulders while experimenting with dynamite. Neither Edison’s lab, nor the rocks blown up by Nobel were restored to their previous forms ever. There are enough explosive precedents of experimentations in love across all cultures and generations. Need we experiment further?

Fourth, tap on the strength from God. God is Love. He provides the necessary restraint to safeguard our minds and bodies so that we can cherish love in its totality and holiness. It is not easy to prevent the unholy intruders from sneaking into our lives merely by self-determination or vows of chastity. Missiles cannot be encountered with rifles. Missiles need to be encountered with missiles. That is precisely why all nations keep their military arsenal well-stocked with missiles!!

WHAT ABOUT THE SLIPS?

It is easier to give a dictum to follow than to follow the dictum. Slips do happen!! Big stalwarts have fallen flat in surrender to the unholy intruders. Temptations often knock at the door. Discernment between mood uplifting fun and unholiness is rarely pondered upon. When slips do happen during unguarded fragile moments, it is vital to recognize the sin, admit to self and God, repent for the same and resolve never to repeat them. And the, of course, to erect stronger barriers than before.

SHOULD YOU ACCEPT DEFILED LOVE?

I know of a man who had guarded himself against all possible unholy intruders, just to be able to love the special person who would come his way. When he realized that he was in mutually reciprocal love with his friend, he also realized that she had been emotionally bound to two others before (which he already knew as her friend).

It was a tussle for him. He remained true in his love as he was in his friendship with her, but it took a while for him to come to terms with the fact that he would be receiving what he called ‘a third-hand gift’.

What helped was the fact that she was true about her past, was true with him all through and admitted to having sought God’s forgiveness for those seemingly silly affairs. Overall this was God’s strength that helped him brush off her past and accept her with loving holiness.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, remember truth and forgiveness are vital keys. Genuine slips need to be forgiven when truly repented for. Unintentional unholiness needs to be forgiven in acceptance as well. Victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse deserve the healing and bliss of holy love. God heals the broken with His love, and so He expects that we give the scope to the broken for healing by showing our love.

Love is an intense emotion which rules the world. The consequences of love dying in the world that we live in would be disastrous. What can keep love from dying is holiness. This is not only true about romantic love but also true for all relationships.

When there is holiness in love, all the other virtues discussed earlier in the week – Justice, Truth, Equality, Kindness, Respect and Acceptance, Patience would be largely visible.