Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulner- able. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life.... You give them a piece of you... your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so a simple phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love. -- Neil Gaiman

I've never been "in love," so in one sense I'm not the person to be writing on this. But I've been close enough to get a good idea of what it looks like. And one thing I'm pretty sure of - love, in its purest form, has a very dark, very unkind side.

As wonderful a thing as it may be on the sunny days filled with poetry and playfulness, night always comes, and the bitter consequences of the sinful world we live in serve to twist even the best feelings a human could have into truly the worst. No one who would choose to love could be immune from this. True love gingerly puts one's heart on the chopping block and hopes for the best. And there is no person in this world who is perfect enough to hold another's heart without damaging it. It simply can't be done.

And yet we are commanded to love. In fact, it is the greatest commandment that Christ gave us - to love God and to love one another as we would ourselves. The sad fact of the matter is that we can't love another person as we would ourselves without doing some measure of damage to our own self. Simple illustration: if I have bread, and my brother doesn't - if I give it to him so that he can eat instead of myself, I go hungry. Would that we were always able to give completely to others, but alas, we are human. And as such, we are programmed to seek our own well-being first, and then secure the masks of those next to us who may need assistance.

So it should really come as little surprise when someone deals shrewdly with the love you have given them. Could you be any better, in the long run? No one offers the perfect love of Christ. We all fail each other.

But Christ told us that those who mourn would be comforted, and even more, blessed. Love isn't something we can choose not to do, because it hurts. And this is a hard pill to swallow - why would (a loving) God command us to do something that He knows will cause us such deep grief, such accute loss?

So that we could know, in just a small shadow of the true sense, what kind of painful, passionate love Christ had to have for us, when we had played fast and loose with his heart. Love is something we must do, because we are commanded to do it, especially when it hurts...for only when we truly mourn in the deep grief of love can we be truly comforted and blessed.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to 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. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. -- C.S. Lewis


sara said...

I'm surprised that you've never been in love. Acutally, before I realized that was a quote in the beginning I was like, man what happened to him?! You make a really good point though about Christ's love. Good post. Hope all is well with you.

Dawn said...

Hmm, this would be a good one to expand into an article. :-)