A higher love

Возлюбить (vahz-lyoo-beet).

We learned this word in Russian the other day, and at first I was quite confused. The definition given was “to love,” but we already knew the verb “to love.” It’s just любить (lyoo-beet). How was this word different? Our teacher explained that this is a bigger love, a greater love, the love with which God loves the world.

Russian is a language that loves prefixes. I’m firmly convinced at this point that any given word has at least a thousand variations depending on the prefix you put in front of it. This can sometimes be incredibly frustrating, especially for someone that doesn’t have an instinctual sense of what on earth all these prefixes mean. But yesterday, I learned that the prefix ‘воз-’ means roughly “higher” or “rising.” It’s the beginning of the word for resurrection, and for sunrise. So (as best I understand it) возлюбить is a love that is higher, that is risen above.

I have been all too aware lately I will never love my husband perfectly. I will never love my friends and those around me perfectly. I’m about to become a parent, and it is good to remember that I will never love my child perfectly. My love falters and fails, gets lost and confused, and at times feels helpless.

I had a dream last night (in case no one ever told you, pregnancy has a tendency to cause quite vivid, and often very strange, dreams) in which, in an otherwise normal dream I horrifically neglected my new baby, simply by not keeping their needs in mind. As I realized this in the dream, as I felt the ramifications of this terrible thing I had done, somewhere from my subconscious, up floated this word. Возлюбить. The love that is higher. The love with which God loves.

It is so good to remember that his love is higher than mine. That it does not falter. It does not fail. It is never lost or confused. And it is never helpless. He loves me—and those I love—with a perfect love. A love that is beyond my ability, or even my comprehension. A love that is higher than I.

So today I am resting in a higher love. For my friend, who is struggling but I just don’t know how to help. For my husband, who is due so much more than I can give (and deals with the failings of my love the most.) For my child that is coming, because I will not be a perfect mother. For myself, who feels all these failings and shortcomings so acutely. And I am praying that I will understand возлюбить more and more.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…

–Ephesians 3:14, 17-19

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