It’s new year’s eve, and I’m sitting at home, taking down my Christmas decorations – my tree looks horrible right now, for whatever reason the kind of tree that I got this year, which is not the kind I normally get, dropped needles like nobody’s business, there are entire branches that are completely bare, it’s ridiculous – anyway, I’m sitting at home waiting for plans to come together for tonight and thinking, about relationships (not necessarily in the romantic sense, but in the more general sense), about India, about loving people, and feeling like I could be doing a better job at it.
Why is it that loving people, wholly completely, with no expectation of anything in return, is so hard? or is it just me that has a hard time with it? It’s definitely not for lack of desire, my heart is there, I want to love in that way, so then why don’t I more?
I’ve just been processing why I have such a hard time with it tonight, and I think it comes down to fear. Fear of several things really, one is being afraid of doing the wrong thing, loving the wrong way, making things worse instead of better, not really being/doing what they need, and I have a tendency to let that fear paralyze me – I just don’t do anything. Another fear is being hurt, what if they take advantage of me, use me, cause me harm. And the third is a fear of being alone, what if giving requires so much of me, that I’m left alone, that my own needs don’t get met for relationships and love because I’ve spent so much on those who can’t or just don’t give back. I fear these things, cause honestly, I’ve experienced them at times. We all have.
So I guess right now, I’m in this place where I’m having to choose where I want to be in walking this line of playing it safe, or taking the risk to love in that kind of God like, agape way, where I have nothing to gain.
In the next few days, this will play out in my trip to India. To be honest, there is a part of me that wants to guard my heart while I’m there. Sure I’d engage in all of the activities, I’d play with the kids, I’d hug them, and serve them, but I’d just keep my heart at a safe distance. I have no doubt that if I open my heart and let myself fully be present and feel everything that’s there to feel, that I’m gonna be compelled to love in a reckless kind of way, in a way where I have to put all of my fears on the line. In a way where, I’ll feel inadequate and wrong at times, where I’ll risk being hurt, and in a way that will require me to completely forget about my own needs. And some of me just wants to play it safe…
In fact, some of me isn’t sure I even know how to love with that kind of reckless abandon. I’m pretty good at being guarded, particularly with people I don’t know, and I wonder if I even know how to let all of those walls down.
At the same time there is a verse that keeps coming to mind. In 1 Corinthians 6:7 it says “why not rather be wronged? why not rather be cheated?” – the verse is talking about lawsuits among believers, but the questions haunt me in my decisions to play it safe or take a risk. Would I rather play it safe, and not love completely, and avoid the chance of being hurt, or would I rather love completely, unconditionally, knowing that there are times when I will be hurt, there are times when I won’t be enough, there are times when I won’t get my own needs met, and when I think of it that way, as difficult as it is – I choose the later.
A little easier said then done, we all have these built in defense mechanisms, but my prayer right now is that I would be able to overcome them, and do a better job of loving people, and specifically while I’m in India this next week. I don’t want to come home knowing that I guarded my heart, and played it safe. That means I might come home a complete emotional trainwreck, so be warned.