~ An Introduction ~
I would like to do a small series of posts on the subject Love. Such a little word for such an endless topic. Possibly because love is not just a sentiment but a Person. An infinite Person.
My most recent lesson I have learned about love is that love makes me vulnerable.
I have always been a “people person”. People intrigue me, and I naturally am drawn to them. I have always made friends fairly easily, and people's good traits have always been clear and obvious to me.
Yet, people are undeniably human! Novel, I know. But over and over through my growing up years, I have become disappointed in those I thought I knew so well and loved so much. It left me feeling naïve, childish, gullible and taken advantage of. I would eventually move on and make more friends and then inevitably be hurt once more.
This led me to be more careful in who I allowed to become close to me. And yet these selective people, because they were so special, now hurt me even more when they did the unthinkable: sin.
What pain to realize that someone you thought so highly of is capable of something so petty. How hard to accept that someone you cherish is so immature. How shocking to be stabbed in the back by someone you would have sacrificed everything for. Their good traits were so real, and then suddenly it all comes crashing down. So often I had heard criticism toward them but I grew defensive for them, only to have it proven true later on.
Not once or twice but multiple times this has happened to me. And what have I learned?
There are two methods on how to deal with this inevitable problem.
One -- you can shut out every person from becoming close to you. I know this sounds pathetic, but it is easier to do than one might think. You can even subconsciously bar people from getting close. This is an effective protection. Unfortunately, this also bars you from loving. Love bears all things. It sacrifices itself to vulnerability so it can reach and be reached. No bars. Jesus subjected His Spirit, and His name to be taken on by us. There is a possibility for us to drag Him through the mud of sin. How grievous to a Holy God. And yet He took the risk because He loves us. With love comes a cost – vulnerability.
We can protect ourselves by building walls and by severing ties, but we will not heal. We will become bitter. Bitterness is a grotesque disease that eats away at our souls. Bitterness does not bring peace. It does not make our wound known to others. It does not make others sympathize with us.
When we start to reject love, when we stop communicating, when we can no longer make eye-contact with someone, when they say something loving and it is repulsive to us...we are bitter. We have built walls. We are becoming self-destructive. I know that it can take hold of anyone's heart. Age and spiritual status have no bearing on bitterness. It can take hold of you. In the smallest of ways. It is a parasite. Don't willingly become a victim. You will be destroyed.
Two -- we can choose to love anyway. To be vulnerable no matter the risk of pain. I'd like to add here that just because the criticism is correct in the person you thought so highly of, doesn't mean all of the good traits you originally saw are now null and void. The good you saw in them was Christ or a Christ-given personality that is still just as real now as it was then. But just like you, they have an old nature that they allow to reign sometimes. Seeing the positive first is not a weakness. It's a gift. This is how Jesus sees them too!
But the lesson to learn is to realize that even good people have the ability to hurt you; no matter how dear a friend or sweet a sibling or good an authority. In fact, the closer you get to them the more likely it is for them to hurt you. If a random stranger came up to me and said, “You know, I really think you are a good-for-nothing and I don't want to be your friend.” I'd be pretty shocked and maybe even affronted, but certainly not crushed like I would if my best friend came to me saying the same thing.
I don't think Jesus intended for every human being to be your best friend. Best friends that you can share your whole heart with are far and few between. But He had compassion for the crowds. He saw them as individuals. He loved them enough to sacrifice His dearest for their best. This is love, and with Love living inside of us, I believe He does intend for us to love the world and share Love with them. Is it worth it? Definitely! Is it costly? Absolutely. But Jesus has showed me that embracing people, no matter how sharp a sword they may be, is so sweet and even healthy and, believe it or not, addicting and enjoyable. Bitterness and bars are only hurtful and lonely.
In my next post I hope to share the beginnings of my discovery of this complex yet amazing concept of Love.