In His Love

Friday, January 15, 2010

I do not love easily. My devotion to anyone is probably best described as "cautious." Sometimes I think this is because I am self-absorbed and I just don't notice others; sometimes I recognize my human tendency to shield my heart against pain.

After Piper was born, I wrote the following while I was reading through L'Engle's Two-Part Invention, the story of her love for her husband, Hugh.

"I write in my journal that the more people I love, the more vulnerable I am.

"Vulnerable--the moment we are born we are vulnerable, and a human infant is the most vulnerable of all creatures. The very nature of our being leads us to risk."

"When I married, I opened myself to the possibility of great joy and great pain and I have known both. Hugh's death is like an amputation. But would I be willing to protect myself by having rejected marriage? By having rejected love? No. I wouldn't have missed a minute of it, not any of it.

"The girls and I have acquired two kittens. They are vying for my attention. One of them starts diligently grooming me. The other bats at my pen. This is less an invitation to play than an announcement that it is time for bed. Even with the kittens I am vulnerable as they curl up trustingly beside me and hum their contented purrs."

~Madeleine L'Engle

"Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’"

~Luke 19:20-23
I finished Two-Part Invention on Tuesday morning. I cried as I read the above passage, almost the last in the book.

Suddenly in my focus was the fact that I am human. No matter how I have lost in the past or may lose in the future, there is no way I may protect myself entirely from the vulnerability that comes with opening my heart to love. And God is still God, and I can't decide that I know His ways, putting Him in a box and hiding even the one "mina" of love and faith He has given me.

At least put it in the bank...

That line has been going through my head all week. I don't even have to go out and invest my love in some huge project. I can let it grow. I can stop hiding. I have a husband and a baby who need my love. I just need to live it where I am, and let it go, instead of holding it to myself for fear of loss.

And I can love God as He is too. He doesn't want my fear. He wants me to know Him. This is eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. I don't have to store up my dreams for when He returns. I can love Him now, stop ducking His radar. Stop running.

No matter what I do, I will never stop being vulnerable. Better to risk pain than to refuse joy.


Now I have a husband and two babies, and I cautiously embrace joy. My heart is not ready this love, for the loss that must come because we are Adam and Eve and hold only the hope of redemption in Jesus just now. And we are never ready, are we, for we were not meant for this.

But even the loss I have lived before comes to fruition now, with comfort to share, with this alive that keeps me connected to the hearts in my home. I am not the woman I hear myself being these last few weeks. I'm the fearful one, not the brave one. I'm the angry one, the patient one. I'm the "safe" one, not the one who takes these risks to hold and cuddle and kiss and smell and invest my heart where it may be broken.

But if this gentling, this love, is what comes of knowing God and being moved by His love, then I am this woman. I am a redeemed one - Eve undone, Eve now-held.

It is quiet wonder.

Who am I that He should choose me to bear this fruit?

Who are any of us?

(Image © Informal Moments Photography)


Glynn said...

For my wife and I, part of that vulnerability was letting our oldest go, letting him test his wings and fly; and now we're doing the same with his younger brother. And they'll crash, too, but you have to love them enough to let that happen. The vulnerability remains forever, I think. Good post.

Cassandra Frear said...

Love anyone and it will break your heart.

The heart that is broken is ready to hold the glory of God.

And the glory of God is man fully alive.

And to be alive is to love as He loves and to be broken in it.

Maureen said...

"Love is/ the perfect stillness / and the greatest excitement, and most profound act, /and the word almost as complete / as His name."
~ "The Perfect Stillness" from Love Poems from God

Laura said...

Funny how this makes me think of Argus. :) The little doggie we nursed back to health, fell in love with, and then sent to a loving home. My youngest cried for three days.

"How can we ever foster again?" he asked.

"We can't not help because we are afraid it will hurt. We can't not love. It makes life richer, love does--no matter how it ends."

That's what I told him.

I think God sees every mark of love our hearts carry. We already know He collects our tears.

sarah said...

I'm almost afraid to leave a comment because everyone else said such poignant, profound things - to match your post - and all I can think of is that yours is the second post I've read this morning which mentions L'Engle. Duh.

You write with a beauty like rain falling on dry earth.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Kelly, people are surely skeptical about my effusive expressions of love. I was raised in a family that easily says "I love you" and easily shows it.

Genuine love indeed means vulnerability, which in turn means pain—pain which may run deep and wide and long. Scarring pain.

But all the love shared in the meantime is worth it.

kirsten michelle said...

This too was my struggle when my heart first began to open to my James. The longer we are married, the more I see the still-closed places, the places guarding against being hurt (but also barring love from being received there). Right now, I can only imagine how having a child magnifies the sense of wanting to protect, wanting to guard from pain, wanting to be impervious.

I admit that I want this more sometimes. But even with the pain it inevitably invites, I am learning to give and receive love even more: inch by excruciating inch.

Thank you for these beautiful thoughts. I add my amen.

Jessica said...

I am one of those whose personality tends to open up fairly easily. Yet, I have also experienced the searing pain this vulnerability can bring. I think what I have learned (and must frequently learn over again) is how easily I can turn people into my god, my source of happiness and satisfaction. It inevitably leads to pain and disappointment.

How does one love without loving *too* much? I'm not sure I know... except to know there is One whose love is perfect -- who IS Love -- and if I am His and He is mine, I can always be satisfied. And through Him, my human relationships can be that much more breathtaking.

Great post.

dawn said...

Ohmy. I cried through Two-Part Invention. LOVED it. It is worth the vulnerability and pain to have loved another. The alternative is not life.

Lyla Lindquist said...

Thought I commented during a basketball game tonight, but it must not have taken... But, oh my. This thing about thinking in some same ways... And now this? What am I to do with this?

Kelly, you ruin me.

God bless you for that.

Joy said...

As happens most often these days, I read this post and then had to continue on through a maze of things yesterday- many of them relating to my husband's new job. Changes all around. But there were these moments, with him, my love, yesterday. And in prayer.

Suddenly, your post came to me, and the tears began to flow. All I can say, is yes, yes, yes. So very much. I will have to read Two Part Invention.

livingpalm said...

"No matter what I do, I will never stop being vulnerable. Better to risk pain than to refuse joy." -

Good words. Thank you.

H Curby said...


I enjoy reading your blog so much. This post especially struck me because I have been realizing that I am guilty of trying to protect myself from hurt--and so, missing out on the blessing of God's comfort; keeping Him out along with the pain. After reading this I went and looked up L'Engle's books on Amazon, and just finished reading "A Quiet Heart," which I enjoyed tremendously. Thank you!

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