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."
"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?’"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)