The capacity to love makes us uniquely human and uniquely God’s. I find our dual nature fascinating. That we are so intricately that of heaven and that of earth. Both woven into the fabric of our hearts…We spend a lifetime wrestling with this and we never do get it…We are unfortunate products of the fall.
I am learning how to love. Community life will do that to you. Rich Mullins wrote, “We have a love that’s not a pure as yours was, but we do love now and then.” I love that line. Something about it makes me cry. We are broken humans, and yet we do possess just a tiny bit of God’s heart within us.
It reminds me of my niece. She’s almost two, and she is such a beautiful expression of innocence and joy. So pure. Sometimes my heart just breaks with love for her. And then I realize how my imperfect love, while it feels overwhelming to me, is but a fraction of God’s heart. This is why we can’t comprehend love. We couldn’t contain it.
I’ve never been “in love,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. I suppose I am a bit behind in life. But early on in my developing years, some Bible study leader impressed me with the nugget, “God won’t send the Godly man, unless you become a Godly woman. After all, while you’re praying for a Godly man, he’s praying for a Godly woman.” I thought about this, long and hard. I realized she was right on more levels than she knew. I needed to be the wife he’s looking to find. So, I set out to turn myself into this perfect mutant artsy writer Stepford Wife that loves Jesus in a chic kinda way, but not in the annoying kinda way, and sort of got stuck. I’m still trying to figure it out. And so I am still single.
There’s something strange that happens when you’ve been single too long. It’s like you’ve run your own life for so long, you don’t really know how to make room for someone else. And by the time you’ve figured it out, you’ve nearly run them off. I’m scared of being that kind of person. So, as I think about love–love for my fellow man, love for my housemates, love for the assorted church people that run around here–I think a lot about what it means. What does love look like, Misty Edwards famously pondered. She finally concluded that love looked like Jesus on the cross. Good definition, but too deep for me.
Love looks like going out for ice cream with friends on a cold day, just so that you can spend time with them. Love looks like knowing someone is lying in an effort to impress you, and still acting impressed anyway. Love looks like playing with action figures with my nephew even though I didn’t even play with them in my childhood and don’t actually know how to play with them. Love looks like watching my nieces for a week while their mom recovers from surgery, and taking the sting out of “missing mommy” by painting and doing Disney re-enactments in full cosume. Love looks like figuring out how to do a complex craft so that my crafty junior high student finds joy in my homeschool class. Love looks like persisting through a “wall” of a new housemate’s heart.
So in all of these things, we see just a tiny glimpse of God’s heart. And we know him just a little better. Beautiful. I am learning how to love.