February is known as the month of love. Red hearts and valentines are everywhere. Valentine’s Day is mostly focused around romance, but yet it reminds us of the importance of loving others around us. Who doesn’t love the idea of love? The Bible tells us that it is the greatest commandment. First love God, and then love others as yourself. Love is beautiful, but love is also risky business.
The opening of our heart to another person means that our hearts become soft and vulnerable.
“There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve.”
Crippling hurt, now that is scary.
When I first became a mom in 1981, I had no idea the depth of love that my heart could contain. Nicole was my first born and, in a way, I grew up with her and she became a part of me. I believed I could never love another like I loved her, but eventually more kids were added to my heart and my heart miraculously expanded and so did my capacity for love.
I had always sought out safety and comfort, but then I fell in love these unique little individuals with an unreasonable, irrevocable love. I sometimes loved them so much that it hurt to love them, and I wasn’t prepared for eventually letting them go.
As my kids grew, I began to realize that they were their own distinctive creatures with their own hope for adventure that God had placed on their hearts. I asked my husband Larry one time how I was supposed to love 100%, not holding back my heart and still hold them loosely. He didn’t have an easy answer, but just said “you just have to do it”.
Love requires it. Love requires that you give what you have to another soul yet hold them with an open hand. That doesn’t mean enable or agree with their decisions, just simply love.
At 17 years old, when Nicole was in an accident that took her earthly life, I was forced to let go of that little human who opened my heart to love. Talk about “crippling hurt”; I was annihilated and believed I would never recover.
After Nicole went to Heaven, I became determined to draw in those I loved, along with my heart, determined to protect us from further pain. I reasoned if I was diligent enough and built a big enough wall around us, that we would be safe.
Over time I came to realize two things about the supposedly safe wall I had erected around my heart and my family.
Number One: We are never safe from pain on this earth. We live on a broken planet and we can’t build a wall high enough to protect us from suffering. Scripture reminds us of that in John 16:33, it tells us that in this world we will have trouble.
Number Two: There are two sides to love. Yes, on one side there is risk, but on the other side there is beauty and meaning and fullness of heart. You can’t have one without the other. Like William S. Burroughs said, “it is a duty to take this risk”.
What if I had never loved? Would my heart be safer, less scarred by loss? Maybe, but I would have missed so much – and lived a flat, dull and colorless life.
God created us to love and He promises He will help us do it. He also promises to carry us through when the risk seems to cost us far more than we are able to pay.
Is it worth the risk? I say yes.