Learning the Role of Active Love

Learning the Role of Active Love


Amid the swirl of papers, deadlines, friendships, late night discussions, early morning caffeine overload, disappointment, and triumph, I forgot to ask myself “what’s next?” For me, college was a time of wonder and discovery—one that I did not want to end. As graduation neared, I was increasingly aware of the demands that my future would have on me.

Orthodox young people everywhere wonder, “What is my vocation?” While many of my peers chose great careers, they still searched for a way to integrate their faith into an atheistic workplace. As I scrolled through Craigslist, I looked for something that challenged my talents and cultivated my interests—yet I also wanted it to coincide with my values. This, I learned, was not an easy task. As someone who majored in English, loves creativity and generating ideas, I had two options: to write or to teach. Hello, starvation and goodbye, savings account.

As I began a job as a Teacher’s Assistant, a few things happened—I saw more bodily fluids than I had hoped, but I had also learned about love. Although my other college jobs had taught me general workplace values, I was now challenged with protecting the minds and hearts of young children. While there are numerous methods and ways to learn how to teach, there is one way to learn it most effectively: active love.

My senior thesis in college was written on the topic of active love in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The hero, Alyosha Karamazov, the youngest of three brothers, was the witness of ultimate depravity and secularism. He witnessed his family reach ultimate depravity, yet he always actively loved—unconditionally. While unconditional love is easier in theory than in practice, it requires action. Although modernity preaches a tolerant love, Christianity preaches one that calls us to work for love.

As Father Zosima, the spiritual father of Alyosha imparts, “What is hell? And I answer thus: ‘The suffering of being no longer able to love.’”

While I navigate through the exhaustion and demands of young-adulthood I try to keep these words in mind. I learn that difficulties give me the opportunity to love more deeply and grow towards Dostoevsky’s ideal of living, active and steadfast love.


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About author

Liza Kotar

Liza Kotar is a recent college graduate living in Seattle, WA. In her spare time she runs, travels, bikes, cooks and reads philosophy (and Julia Child's cookbooks of course). She hopes to answer the question "What should I do with my life?" in a way that is both Christian and creative. If only C.S. Lewis were alive to respond...