Sunday, August 08, 2004

Melanie Hamilton Wilkes - the Literary Embodiment of Love

Yesterday I read the "Love" chapter of I Corinthians again (I Cor. 13) and saw it in a slightly different light than I'd seen it before. I could have quoted the "love is..."es to you when I was in elementary school, but I don't think I ever really paid much attention to them before.

Yesterday I noticed something about them though - most of them have to do with trust and/or endurance. They basically say that, if you truly love someone, you will trust that they would never play you falsely (...never jealous, ...suffers through a wrong, ...bears all things, ...believes all things, ...hopes all things, ...endures all things). It's almost like through Paul, He's saying "the ones you love _will_ hurt you...but if you truly love them, you must look past those hurts to the point that you don't even see their possibility."

This brought to my mind the only person I know who really epitomizes this kind of love - Melanie Hamilton Wilkes from the book Gone With the Wind. The people and things that she loves - Ashley, Scarlett, Rhett, the Cause, etc. - may do terrible things to her or to other people, but she always sees in them good motives and refuses to believe the bad things. When Ashley and Scarlett were "caught" in their first passionless embrace, she never believed that either of them could have been doing wrong because she loved both of them so much. Eventually, because she had such faith in them, and since the rest of the community loved her so much, many people came to believe that perhaps Scarlett and Ashley _had_ been blameless in the matter.

This seems like a very innocent look on life. You'd think that people who truly loved others in this manner would constantly be put upon and taken advantage of. Maybe they would. But what would the world be like if everyone lived this way? If everyone believed the best in people and never even thought of needing to forgive because you never even registered the offense?

I guess this comes down to our feeling of "rights." We feel that people who hurt us "owe" us an apology. We feel that we are "deserving" of fair treatment. But as believers, we're supposed to have recognized that we "deserve" nothing and have a "right" to nothing.

But that sense of "right" is hard to get past, isn't it? And it's _much_ easier to love someone perfectly when you're a character in a book than when you're a real, flesh and blood person.

I don't really have any epiphanies on how to live a life loving others perfectly...just the idea that maybe we should try.

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