In recent times there has been somewhat of an appropriate backlash against the idea that a girl is supposed to be an idle “princess” just waiting around for her Prince Charming. In fact, not to long ago I wrote a post about how we don’t actually have to wait another minute for our love story to begin, because Love has been waiting for us since the beginning.
But along with the well-meaning advice of being told to first be confident in yourself before diving into a relationship, I think we’ve been getting some not-so-good advice regarding what will lead to true happiness.
I hear way too much talk of being selfish as an antidote to losing your identity in another person. Now, instead of being told to change who we are in order to please others (which, by the way, is also not-so-good advice), we’re told things like: be selfish, put yourself first, and don’t let others “get in the way” of your own success.
Ladies and gentlemen: This is not the message of the Gospel. Nor is it a recipe for lasting happiness.
We’re supposed to love ourselves, yes. But that’s not the same thing as being selfish. The idea that another person is an inconvenience, or something to be overcome for the betterment of ourselves, is a poisonous one. We’re called to love and to service—not selfishness.
Now, this doesn’t mean we’re supposed to be pushovers, or that a poor or ill-formed understanding of “love” should be an excuse to settle into unhealthy romantic relationships. But throwing love of others out the window in favor of selfishness will ultimately lead to emptiness, no matter how much material success it may bring you.
If you want to know the secret to lasting fulfillment, Jesus already gave it to us in the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…[and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).