Love, Fire, & Salty Puddle Pools.
It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Why would God love someone who doesn’t know how to love him back? Why would he fall in love with people who would inevitably leave and betray him? Not once but time and time again. Why would he love someone who can’t love him back in the way he deserves? Why would he subject himself to the imperfect love of a prodigal?
Why would he choose to be the fool? Is his delight so strong?
It’s true: the love of God is folly. All lovers are fools. Any of us who are lovers will fall into that same category at one time or another. God’s love is absolutely foolish. A stunningly, bewildering act of brave vulnerability. To invite intimacy is also to welcome rejection. To want someone like that… fearful, apathetic, broken, wayward. To want be in communion with someone like that… It confounds all reason.
(“The heart knows reasons that reason knows not.” -Pascal)
Why would God love us who have made it so terribly difficult just to receive it? Why would he lavish his love on us, pouring out goodness and unwarranted grace on us like a rainstorm when our hearts are just like cement sidewalks unable to receive? Why does his love wait for us when we’re so ready to run and hide?
Why are we so scared of love? Why are we so scared of being open to it? I’m not afraid of being foolish; I’m afraid of not recovering. I am afraid of the beating in my chest that haunts me seemingly without my consent. I am tired of being interrupted by feeling. I’m just trying to keep the waters calm, and at a moment’s notice I’m ambushed by this pulse inside my chest. I wish I wanted less! I wish I could hardwire my desire to God and God alone.
I wake up every morning with a heart of ice and everyday God has to melt it. I wish my heart could remain ice-like all the time. It’s the intermittent melting that gets me in trouble. I know it’s God’s goal for me to live with a heart completely thawed. But to do that well requires a measure of courage, strength, wisdom (and perhaps foolishness) that I’m not sure I possess.
There’s no getting around it. Love begets love. Love feels like fire; which sounds romantic and poetic until you actually experience touching a flame. It’s painful and unmistakably interruptive, like the best art. Its presence will always change something. Its presence, and its absence, matters. And love means suffering. If not, it’s just affinity. It’s not a fire, it’s a breeze.
And now I understand- I understand the appeal of an unfeeling, selfish existence. I understand not wanting to be touchable. I understand feeling threatened by anything that really makes you feel, anything that gets too close and melts your defenses. Because in the end there’s nothing more terrifying than being truly vulnerable. Care about anyone and you give them the power to hurt you.
But there’s no way around it.
So where’s the resolve? Somewhere down by my shoes in salty puddle pools. Someone much wiser than me once said that our tears are our best prayers. (Even the ones we wish we didn’t have.) There’s no resolve for feeling. We were made to feel.
So as much as I have, of late, bemoaned feeling how I do, I have to open my hands and offer it up to the God who created the heart He gave me. And until a resolve comes, God can catch my prayers in his salt-stained hands. I hope he will.