There is a longing in every human heart for relationship that is sure, stable, and maybe even eternal? In a quick-fix, fast love and get-ahead society, the closest many come to meaningful relationship is a heart shaped emoji and a surprisingly satisfying “Lookin’ Good!” posted in the comments section of their latest selfie. We want others to believe in us, encourage and affirm us, even while we whisper secretly about their latest life troubles (which are all too easily discerned given that they were inevitably smeared across every occupiable social media platform). There are foundational attributes of real relationship that need be embraced and embodied if we desire to move beyond superficial and unfulfilling encounters with others. Faith, Hope and Love are not words or feelings, they are substance, action, and power. Experiencing these for yourself and offering them to others creates a cycle of Life and an inner security that can sustain us even beyond death. As Paul the apostle once penned, “There are three things that will remain, Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.”
Faith is not blind belief and it does not apply only to spiritual pursuits or an invisible God. Faith has been touted in the past as acknowledgement or consent to ideas or beings that you cannot see so you just need to “have faith.” In reality and practice, Faith is one of the three pillars of relationship that apply both to the seen and unseen realms. Faith is Trust. Trust is critical to healthy relationship primarily because of its cyclical nature. As we trust others it demonstrates that we value them, honor them, and acknowledge that they are worthy of our trust. Offering this faith to and in another invites them to have faith in us in return; people are willing to place trust in others who they are trusted by. If one harbors a lack of faith in us, we probably won’t be quick to place our trust in them. It doesn’t feel good to know someone doesn’t believe in you.
Hope is the sister of faith. Hope looks forward and with joyful expectation! Hope doesn’t need someone else to prove they are good or worthy of our kindness and love, hope already sees beauty in others. Our hope in others calls into being the best parts of them, their truest and most wonderful self. It is often a life changing moment for those on the spiritual path when they realize that God hopes in them. To feel goodness being urged out of your depths by an invisible force that you can only call Love is a glorious and transformative experience! This Goodness hoping in you can cause you to place hope in The Great Goodness as well. At the point of maturity this Hope causes us to know ourselves as “One with God.”
Love is the great trump card of the universe. Hate, evil, bitterness, or darkness; none of these hold any power over Love. Love trusts and hopes in all things and in every circumstance. Love is not bitter or envious, nor is She ever arrogant or rude. When we love we look past the faults of others, not because we are blind to them but because we have decided to focus on the Beauty in them, on their truest self. Love is not ignorant. Love simply makes the choice to honor in spite of short comings and to not hold the faults of others against them. Here is a really practical way we can all amp up our practice in love: Love does not gossip. I believe the entire spiritual journey can be summarized in a single phrase, “Experiencing and learning to Love”. To experience Love is to experience God, and to offer Love is to participate in God.
If we desire meaningful relationship; for others to have faith and hope in us and love toward us, then we must be willing to offer the same to those around us. We can share our hearts and lives with others (Faith), choose to assume the best about people (hope), and be willing to believe them without keeping record of their wrongs (Love). These pillars, these realities, are not selfish. We can offer them even before experiencing them, trusting that whatever we give will be given back to us. Such is the cycle of Love and Blessing that is, as Jesus proclaimed it, “The Kingdom of God.”