To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
To love is to be vulnerable.
You put your heart out there. I give you a “10” for enthusiasm, a “10” for intentions, but only a “2” for execution. If you’re honest, you’ll note you’ve been quite inept in your performance. Rather bungled it. You stepped out of bounds on several occasions. You fell on your third point of contact a couple of times. Once you face-planted directly in front of the person you were hoping would love you.
For a moment, I felt mortified and embarrassed on your behalf. But only for a moment.
When we offer our heart to someone, whether it’s romantic, or parental or in friendship, and that person is unable or unwilling to accept it, we have a choice—withdraw and save as much of our surface dignity as possible (genuine dignity can never be stripped from us), or forge ahead stupidly knowing we’ll likely become clumsy. Very clumsy. Sometimes irrational. And angry. And unreasonable.
Maybe I’m projecting my own experiences onto you—if so, I apologize.
I’m not writing to criticize. Not the validity of your end goal. Not your method of execution. Not your judgment. Only you and God know your heart. And God is a pursuer. Some of the people He pursues can make a person wonder: really God? Her? Him? No, in these matters, I try not to interject what I would do. I try to remind you (and me, continually) of what He would do.
And He tends to be a God who pursues.
There’s been a marked shift in what we pursue these days; pleasure and comfort having butted up to the front of the line. Not that man hasn’t always desired pleasure and comfort, but their essence has mutated. How could it not—fifty years ago, family and the Christian faith were the chief influencers in American life. Today it’s friends and media.
Ergo, in the midst of what people in general pursue, the act of offering/pursuing love is more skewed and mangled than ever. And yet, our bad attempts and misguided methodology still contain elements of goodness and beauty—at least they do to me.
Some may say humans have adulterated love to the extent that they are not pursuing it, but merely deriving gratification from a shallow version of it. That we don’t love whom we should love and we don’t express it how we should express it.
And I would agree.
Some people have executed love (almost) perfectly—they’ve received all tens and occupy the high place on the center podium. And if they can be humble in their success, they are extraordinary examples to follow.
I haven’t "done" love perfectly. I’ve had relationships I shouldn’t have had. I’ve behaved inappropriately, selfishly, absurdly, self-destructively, immorally, and irreverently.
Though in the quiet of my spirit, I believe I acted in love—to the extent I understood what it was. And as diluted and impure as it was, it led me to stop running from He who is pure love.
My Friend, I could talk to you about how foolish you’ve been and continue to be, that if you had pursued love the way it was meant to be pursued, you wouldn’t find yourself where you are. I could say: Buddy, you need to give up. This is a lost cause and self-destructive. I could add a frankly for emphasis.
But I won’t.
For three reasons, maybe four.
1. Your heart doesn’t need to make sense to mine. I can hope with you in the possible.
2. You are engaged in love, as in the noun—the greatest pursuit. My job is not to be critical of you, but to love you. To pray for you—as I do for myself—that how we understand love will continue to grow and that our desires and actions, our very lives will continue to keep pace with that increased understanding.
3. There’s not enough pursuit of people in this world. We let one another go swiftly and harshly. If I left my life for some reason, you my foolhardy friend, are exactly the type of person I would want present. You wouldn’t give up on me, or let me go, no matter what I said or did. You would be a shadow of God for me. You would be a tangible reflection of His love.
4. I thought there might be a four, and there is. Like C.S. Lewis alluded to—I would rather witness you love with no finesse, or wisdom, than to watch you selfishly lock your heart away in a casket to die irredeemably.
Go forth and love, my Foolish Friend whose heart breaks a little more each day.
There is Someone waiting. There is Someone who can mend the brokenness.
All in Goodwill,