No one would argue that love isn’t risky. It’s the most terrifying thing on earth.
I took a chance when I fell in love for the first time – and thankfully it’s worked out well. I’m married to a wonderful man who I’ve been with for 16 years. But any relationship where love is involved has the potential to mess with your head, and your life.
I also took a chance by seeking to fall pregnant for the first time. I fell in love with the child growing inside me, and there was no turning back from that connection. No matter what happened to him, I would always love him. I could not avoid the love.
What, really, are the alternatives to loving? We are wired for it. We are born to it. It enlivens us, and can take us to magical places. But when we’ve been hurt we tend to shrink back, afraid.
In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says:
“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.”
When we keep our love ‘safe’ and unable to grow, we risk losing our ability to relate to others. But when we dare to put ‘our heart on our sleeve’, we give ourselves the chance to experience wonderful, healthy relationships. But there are always challenges.
This week, my family experienced a trauma. Our four-year-old fell through the window of our two-storey house, onto some concrete below. It was quite a height, and while he was very upset by it and had injured himself, our stay in the hospital revealed no broken bones or major damage. We are extremely thankful.
As I saw Thomas lying in the hospital bed, attended to by nurses, I realized afresh the pain of love.
When the person you love is hurt, you feel it too. When you think you might lose them – or if you do lose them – you face incredible trauma. Love is only for the brave and foolish.
But many would say it’s worth it.
Loving others, and the experience of being loved, gives us an insight into the all-consuming love of God, our Heavenly Father.
“God is love” (1 John 4:8) – and He simply can’t be anything else.
His love is shown through his actions:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
And he loves us deeply, and personally, as Augustine wrote:
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
And Henry Drummond states:
“God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.”
Love is not a rational thing, but flows from the deep-down knowledge that we are loved. May we rest today in the amazing love that our Father God lavishes upon us, and ask for His strength to love others in a supremely risky world.