C. S. Lewis once said, “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.”
To be honest, it took me a really, really long time to fully understand that quote. For years I read it and thought, “who doesn’t want a heart that’s unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable?” Truthfully, I didn’t get it. The quote made sense, but it didn’t hit home. I had never really understood what it was to love, to be truly vulnerable. Sure, I thought I loved…until I realized it was based on conditions.
It was always for a reason.
It was always until someone did or said something to lose the privilege to be loved by me.
I had gotten hurt plenty of times. Plenty. People did really hurtful things towards me, and I to them. Pain wasn’t unfamiliar to me. But loving was. I “loved” until that moment came—the moment that they stopped deserving my love—suddenly, the “love” would magically disappear. The pain stayed. The “love" left. I “forgave” but only with the condition that the person who hurt me would be gone from me, along with the “love” that was already out the door. I “forgave” as long as there was no chance I had to forgive them again.
I walked alongside the world in their misconceptions about love. I retweeted and reposted quotes that boasted about “living, laughing and loving” or ones that claimed that “all you need is love.” I sang along and agreed for years. I mean, doesn’t “love” make you happy? Isn’t it cuddles and flowers and standing hand in hand? “Love” is beautiful, isn’t it?
Or is it only beautiful when it’s unflawed—when it comes with conditions? Do we only celebrate “love” when it comes without pain? Do we “love” only when it’s deserved?
Do we praise love when it’s agonizing and painful and beats you down and gives you more than you ever thought you could handle?
I think about how easy it was for the humanness of Jesus to show love when crowds followed him, pushing through each other to touch him. I can’t imagine how simple and beautiful love was for him when he healed a leper and people gasped and rejoiced.
I’m sure that kind of love was celebrated—the love that let an adulterous woman go away without being stoned to death. It was probably easy for Jesus to love on Good Friday when he rode through the crowd in a donkey and all praised him saying, “Hosanna!”
That’s the kind of love the world likes, doesn’t it? They like love when it heals and restores and accepts and doesn’t judge—and that love is beautiful, necessary and real. We should all like that kind of love.
But what about the kind of love that turns the cheek when it is slapped? What about the kind of love that doesn’t yell a hurtful word in return after they are verbally attacked? What about the love that forgives and embraces with tears in its eyes after its been wronged? What about the kind of love that makes you feel weak? And not the “weak-in-the-knees” type of “love”, but the kind that makes you feel weak…and vulnerable.
Would the world celebrate a love that puts itself to death?
Does the world really like that kind of love? Does the world even know that kind of love? Would the world sing along to that kind of love if it was in a song?
Would you? If you could tell the future, would you hang out, befriend, and do life with someone that you knew would one day deny, betray, and ultimately want you dead? Or even if you knew that one-day the person would tell you stinging words that would pierce a deep wound in your soul? Even then, would you love them knowing beforehand?
I think about how difficult it must have been for the humanness of Jesus to love in that type of way. The type of way the world detests. I wonder how he woke up every morning and healed, restored, and made new to the very people that would one day yell, “Crucify him!”
Reflecting on this kind of love leads me to think: is love actually light-hearted and pretty-looking? Or is true love gruesome, grueling and painful? If so then, does the word love actually equate to the word forgiveness?