It is another type of pain when someone you want does not want you, when the feelings you share is not reciprocated, when the effort you are giving out is not returned to you.
I think everyone in some way or another has experienced the above. Applying for a desired job and receiving a rejection, putting a lot of effort into a friendship only to realise that person does not consider you as a close friend, and arguably the most painful of all, loving a person who does not love you back – unrequited love.
When I hear the phrase “unrequited love”, I can’t help but think of Iris in the opening scenes of ‘The Holiday’, pining over Jasper, totally committed to him, clinging on to every bit of hope that he feels or will one day feel the same way as her, only for him to propose to her colleague. Ouch! I’ve seen ‘The Holiday’ so many times and each time I watch it my heart breaks and I cringe over her unrequited love yet at the same time, I am always thinking “seriously Iris, I don’t know how you could love a guy like Jasper in the first place”.
Psychologists say for the most part unrequited love isn’t real love because people usually experience it towards someone they don’t actually know very well, or someone who has never really opened up to them. In some, but not all cases, unrequited love is closer to infatuation rather than real love. Unrequited love based on infatuation is easier to overcome but trying to get over unrequited love based on real love must be… ineffable.
To really know someone, to see all their faults and shortcomings yet love them anyway and to have that person not love you back and to live still loving them and knowing they may never love you back must be a completely ineffable amount of pain.
These last two to three months I’ve been thinking about unrequited love for various reasons and I realised that I know someone who experiences real unrequited love every single day. He loved me knowing every single awful thing about me, yet I used to loathe Him knowing little about Him. He kept loving me, kept choosing in, kept putting in the effort consistently, never missing a day; hoping but never forcing me to love Him back.
Unrequited love is awful in every scenario, nobody would choose it. Think about that person you loved that didn’t love you back or that job you wanted that you got rejected from or that group you wanted to be involved with that didn’t included you. If given the chance to go back and there was an option to not love that person who would never love you, to not spend hours applying for the job you were never going to be given and to not have the desire to want a place in a group that didn’t want you, would you still choose unrequited love? I’m telling you now, it would be an immediately no from me, I would press that opt out button so fast, I would not click apply, I would cross the street, I would never say the hello. I couldn’t imagine a scenario of choosing in knowing the outcome would be painful.
Yet He did choose unrequited love. He still does. Jesus loves every single one of the 7+billion people on this earth and the ones that came before and still to come knowing millions of them loathe him, millions deny his existence, millions pick him up and drop him, millions treat him like a genie, millions give him a bad reputation, millions tell lies about him, millions reject him and millions will never love him.
His reality of daily rejection has brought me to tears many times these last few months. I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how God still loves me on days when I am like Jasper from The Holiday. I don’t know how Jesus being fully God, knowing the future and that many He would be dying for would never believe Him, He would still choose the most painful death of crucifixion for you and me. I don’t how He loves us, I just know that He does. I’m grateful that the One who sees me at my worst, who sees all the reasons I am not deserving of His love still loves me anyway. It’s an overwhelming kind of love, a leaves you lost for words kind of love, a put you back together kind of love, a confidence boosting kind of love, a selfless kind of love.