Tuesday, May 5, 2009

To love or not to love...that is the question

I don't think it's a secret that I am a bit dramatic. Who am I kidding? I'm definitely more than a bit dramatic - I'm a lot dramatic. The serious nature of most of these blog posts function as testimony to this very fact. It's part of who I am...and my time at MHGS has enticed me to embrace all of me...even that part. Maybe intense, passionate, or easily-excitable are better descriptors of my personality. I like to think that I simply feel things deeply. Maybe deeper than some...or less deeply than others. I can't be sure because I'm only familiar with my own experience. But for whatever reason, I've come to believe that I feel deeper than most (if not all) others in whom I find myself to be in relationship with.

This way of perceiving my own little world probably began in my early formative years. A little over a year ago while visiting in Colorado my mom's husband told me that while cleaning out the garage he came across a time-capsule that my mom had constructed with all of us kids on New Years Eve in 1989. He said that my mom had written a letter about each one of us kids and he thought I'd be really interested in reading what she had to say. I was 10 years of age when my mom wrote of how her oldest daughter had an ability to love deeply in a way that exceeded her age in years. She saw this part of me as a glorious thing.

Not surprisingly, at the age of 10, I experienced my first break up. I've just always had a penchant for entering into certain stages of life before most others commonly venture into them. His name was Jason Rioux. We were boyfriend and girlfriend for the duration of the summer prior to his 7th grade and my 5th grade school year. The relationship was destined for failure once we returned to school and were no longer able to spend the long summer days riding our bikes through the neighborhoods, building forts out of the dirt piles behind our houses, and playing Truth or Dare every evening until there was no longer a trace of sun light. I recognize this reality now, retrospectively of course, but no one could have prepared me for the pain that followed his disclosure that he liked someone new...someone older. I cried every night for weeks.

I listened to Richard Marx' song "Right Here Waiting For You" at least a million times during that season of my life. One Friday evening, Jason actually happened to be hanging out with my older brother. They were playing basketball in our driveway which happened to be located just under my bedroom. I sat there watching (read: stalking) him for who knows how long. I did what any heartbroken young girl would do - I hit play on my cd player, opened my bedroom window, and turned the volume up as loud as I could get away with. The whole neighborhood heard my declaration of undying love. This was not the first time I humiliated myself in the name of love (When I was six I called my childhood boyfriend shortly after moving to Colorado from California and sang the chorus of "I just called to say I love You" by Stevie Wonder on his answering machine) and it most certainly wasn't the last time (oh...the memories are flooding me now - Jason McClurkin, Kevin Maas, Chris Crosby - my obsession with basketball players began when I was in junior high).

Though I'm laughing as I reminisce right now, my laughter is coupled with a wincing pain I can still locate deep within my heart - a pain I've been all too familiar with for most of my life. It's a pain I've tried many times to anesthetize in countless ways - some less self-harming than others, but as hard as I've tried - the wound is still present and I'm aware of it even in this moment. It is a pain that has felt unbearable at times and has had a history of leading me into black holes where I've doubted the possibility of ever recovering.

When I was 16 I purchase a self-help book titled, Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood. I was convinced that I had discovered my pathology. I was a woman who just loved too darn much. And that was a serious problem...because I had determined that in any given relationship, the one who loved the least held all the power. From this particular vantage point - loving too much (which equated to loving someone else more than they loved me) meant that I held little power within the relationship. And having little power seemed to inevitably lead to my own victimization. So how exactly does one stop loving so deeply? How can I pull back on the reigns of my heart? How can I become more powerful? These are the questions that have echoed in my head and reverberate in my heart - sometimes on a conscious level but more pervasively on an unconscious level.

A few weeks ago while I was cleaning our apartment as Krisalyn was entertaining herself in her bedroom, I was overwhelmed with this sense that I could be "content" being only a mom and taking care of household responsibilities. I don't mean to suggest that being "only a mom" is any small task - what I mean is that the role of a mother is a role that feels very safe too me. As a mother I feel free to love my children whether or not they reciprocate that love. I actually don't think it's possible for my children to love me as much as I love them, for it was my own body from which they came into existence. And so I'm thinking about my relationship with God and my relationship with others in a different light these days.

We are told that God loves us much more than any of us could ever even fathom...and I don't view him as having less power as a result of that love. It is his capacity to love even when it's not reciprocated that makes him so undeniably and beautifully powerful. I imagine that God painfully longs for reciprocated love from us, but our inability to love him that deeply does not cause him to tone down his love. Ironically, this relational predicament seems to heighten his love or at the very least it creates a dynamic where his love becomes more vividly expressed (I'm picturing Rembrant's Prodigal Son and the imagery constructed in my mind of a God who goes after the single sheep).

So what does this mean for my relationships today? I want to learn how to let my heart love deeply without being repressed by my fear of powerlessness. It is true that I cannot control whether or not another loves me back, whether they leave me, harm me, or reject me. I have no power over them and what they do with their own power. But I do have the power to love - and I'm learning that there is no greater power than this.

I came home last night from school after 9.5 hours of class completely exhausted. So it's possible that my exhaustion led to an emotional response...but all I could think about as I rested upon my tear-soaked pillow was how much I have grown to love the people in my life (both from the past and in my present). When I gave birth to my second of three daughters I was in awe of how the heart seems to have an infinite capacity to love as long as it remains a heart of flesh willing to let life enter in. Despite my best efforts at hardening my own heart and killing it's proclivity to love deeply - a portion of it has remained flesh. And I think that portion has the power to awaken and re-open the parts that stopped functioning long ago. One can only hope...


P.S. I couldn't resist posting this video. So classic. And yes...I still know the song by heart.


:::No Longer Mute said...

yes, brilliant! i know we've discussed the idea of loving less = more power and yet we have never examined it from God's point of view. he is no less powerful because he loves the most, you're right! so, yes, embrace your great love and be aware others will love less - but in knowing that, maybe the wounds of their less love won't be so deep...maybe...not likely, but at least you have an idea that it can be different than what you've thought before. hooray! i'm holding hope for you.

Lindsey said...

I love this posting.