by Alice von Hildebrand, By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride

04f1769a745fb9d23e776768b7471bb4Dear Julie,

Don’t allow yourself to be upset by the remarks you overheard at the Fourth of July picnic. It’s not surprising that your co-workers can’t understand why you fell in love with Michael.

Keep in mind that the person who sees is qualified to pass judgment on the thing he sees; but he who doesn’t see is by his own admission blind. You perceive Michael’s goodness and beauty; they don’t. Trust your sight, not their lack of sight.

They can only perceive neutral facts about Michael (such as how tall he is, the color of his eyes, how he laughs, and the kinds of activities he generally engages in). This information is available to everyone. But you can see more, including Michael’s nobility and goodness.

As I suggested in my last letter, even on a merely factual level your vision of Michael is more complete, for it includes things others can’t know just by looking at him. They must ask to gain this information: where and when he was born, whether he has brothers and sisters, what sort of persons his father and mother are. The closer someone gets to Michael, the more such information he’ll gather, but a friend has to be very close – and he must be trusted very deeply – before Michael will reveal his private life, his disillusionments, his joys and hopes, the wounds he’s received, his inner self.

Things such as these belong to the intimate sphere in Michael’s life, which includes much of his spiritual, psychological, and even physical being. Many things in these areas are so deeply personal that they call for veiling in front of strangers; they’re simply private by their nature and should be revealed only in an environment of love, where they’ll be treated with reverence and awe.

The closer we get to another person and the more we trust him, the more we desire to know about him, to penetrate his intimate self, and to have him know us in this way as well.

When you fell in love with Michael, you were granted a vision of his true self, the self which he usually hides from others, both because it is his secret and also because he doesn’t want to make himself vulnerable to persons who fail to approach him with reverence and love.

It’s right to hide oneself from an indiscreet and unloving gaze, but it’s also right to reveal oneself to a person whom we trust and love. This is happening between you and Michael. You now know him better than any other person because he has trusted you enough to reveal himself to you in ways that he’s revealed himself to no other human person.

This mutual self-donation is the ideal of marriage and the reason why your love for Michael isn’t blind, but is the opposite: it’s based on a deeper knowledge and a clearer vision of him than any other person has. Only those who love see; and those who see most clearly, love most deeply.

Your special vision of Michael allows you to love him profoundly. Trust this love and nurture it. It will bring you profound joy.

Affectionately yours,

Lily

A-great-love-between