The Fruit of Love
By Z Zoccolante
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” – Galatians 5:22-23
I’m going to write about these things for the next few weeks, starting with LOVE.
The Bible verse above was one I heard as a kid. Growing up in Hawaii, I’d picture all kinds of tropical fruits in the garden, all these ways in which trees show the world who they are. A mango tree produces mango fruit. A lychee tree, lychee, and so on.
People are the same even though we don’t have branches and fruits. We have words, actions, and behavior that become our character. These things become who we are.
As an adult, one of the phrases I hear frequently is not to believe someone’s words but their actions. Anyone can tell you pretty words, dripping with all the honey, promises, or love your insides may long to hear. But what do they do? Watch how they treat themselves, others, you. People tell you who they are, audibly or not. But often we choose to ignore it. Watch the fruit. What’s their character? . . .
Today’s tiny thought is on LOVE.
With everything in life, I believe there is a spectrum. There are different levels of love across the scale. How do you know you love someone? How to do you know someone loves you? When do you feel most loved? How do you know that you are someone you love?
I’m not going to define love because there’s no concrete answer. It’s many things and has written about for thousands of years. But yet we all seem to know it when we see it or feel it, know that we are experiencing a part of this vast moving ocean we call the word love.
About two years ago my heart was impaled when I lost my xLove without a choice in the matter. Watching myself wander bloody through the broken glass bomb that was my life was a process. Through it, I learned how much love there was all around us.
I think lots of us have this idea that we’re alone in the world, and maybe experiences that back that up. But I think maybe we are all offered a chance to see through this story that we’ve believed. Even if the chance comes through a glass explosion shattering everything in your world – there is the opportunity to see a different story.
For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to receive. It came in many forms – from a woman who voxed with me, shared her own story, encouraged me to keep my heart kind, and made me feel like I wasn’t alone. There were a handful of women of all ages from my church who prayed for me and alongside me. There were my closest friends who supported me like a mast when I was a shallow sail. I still remember my friend waiting outside her house at 2a.m. in her pajamas as I picked her up sobbing. There was my friend who told me she’d be at my house in 30 minutes and immediately arranged for her kids to be picked up and came to see me.
There was my dog who touched her head to mine and we slept alone in my bed. There was my friend who always included my dog in any invitation to me and who encouraged me to keep her even though it felt terrifying to take care of a living thing when I didn’t even know where my next home would be and when I was barely taking care of myself. There was my family.
There was God and my closet and the hours of prayers and tears that made my broken heart soft and kind. There was God’s hand in everything that followed. There was love. There was so much love even if it wasn’t from the sources I’d given to, expected, or wanted. There was love all around me and I was exhausted and open and so thankful to receive.
It’s a few years later and the events have become a part of my story, woven into my bones. I realize that once you love deeply, fully, with full trust and heart open, that doesn’t go away. Today, I told someone a detail of the last conversation I had with my xLove, the one I knew I needed to say the most important thing because he was gone and wasn’t coming back, save a miracle. And that neuropathway burned and I was in front of the couch in the dark and I could feel my black fuzzy bathrobe wrapped around me as my voice quivered.
Memories don’t die. If you’ve had real love with somebody, you’ve had real love. And even though you may never see them again, it doesn’t stop existing. It doesn’t die, even if the person isn’t even here on earth anymore. The brain and the heart and the soul are magical things. Love is woven into us, etched on the insides of our veins, carved into our bones. It is a part of us.
And at the end of the day, it’s ok. It becomes something we can carry, that we can mark time with, mark the people we’ve been with interest and wonder. Love can involve pain because it opens our hearts and when they’re open they risk being hurt in that vulnerability. And we carry on.
And Love is brilliant, beautiful, heart opening, stunning wonder. It’s simple and complex. It comes from all around us in tiny ways every day. We just have to look for it and it’s visible everywhere. God’s fingerprints everywhere.
So what have I learned? Receive. People are amazing. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Keep your heart open. Pray. Love more than you ever thought you could. God is there. God is going to give us Love. Keep your heart open.
*And check out a new episode of the Throwing Up Rainbows Podcast Season 2 here.