Love is all about risking. However not all risks are well founded. Falling in love is like falling over a cliff. It is a letting go, an abandonment, a release of some brakes. When we fall in love we expose our deeper and more sensitive parts and lay ourselves naked to both deep hurt and deep healing. In a word, we become vulnerable, extremely so. We let another person penetrate deeply into our life, our heart, our psyche, our spirit and perhaps even our body. It is a powerful and threatening experience, an experience which can make or break us. Indeed, nothing has power to transform a life so totally, for heaven or for hell, as does love. It always leaves one either deeply hurt or deeply healed, more redeemed or more damned. Love carries with it the healing fire of God and his Holy Spirit. Because of this it can heal wounds, fill emptiness and give meaning in a way that nothing else can. Conversely, it can also wound and damage in very deep ways.
It is a risk which needs to be taken, though never lightly. Love needs to be calculated. I say this last line with tongue in cheek. I am aware that few things are as challenged as is that last statement, namely, that love needs to be calculated. Without immediate qualification, it is a dangerous and irresponsible statement. Heaven knows, and we know too, that we go through life too uptight, too unrisking, too timid about love and about exposing ourselves. We all would love to love, but we are so afraid of rejection, of hurt, of losing control, of abandoning ourselves, of being vulnerable, that we seldom take the risk. As well, many of us have already been hurt and, burnt once, we do not want to approach the fire again. Thus, we need constant challenge to move out and risk. However, with that being submitted, I want to submit another item here, a cautionary one: More persons are being hurt, degraded and burnt by over-risking (in stupid ways) than are being genuinely healed by love’s redemptive fire. Love implies risk, but risk implies trust. Trust must be well founded. One can only trust another person if that other is mature, genuinely respectful, and capable of commitment.
When we let ourselves fall over a cliff it is imperative that the person designated to catch us is capable in fact, and not just in fantasy, of catching us so that we do not bruise or hurt ourselves too deeply. In brief, there is too much foolish abandonment and destructive letting go in the name of love. We abandon ourselves emotionally, sexually, spiritually and psychologically to each other when there is not nearly a sufficient basis of trust and maturity present. Hurt, not healing, results. Recently a friend of mine told me why he was breaking up with his girl friend. “She’s too controlled,” he submitted. “She will never let go of the final brake. She’s too uptight! She needs to control her own life. I can’t handle a girl like that!” Knowing his immaturity, sexual impatience and self-preoccupation, I suspect his girl friend is rather fortunate that this particular relationship is ending. Her uptightness, in this situation, is not a fault. Rather it should be called by its proper name – virtue. The final sin against the Holy Spirit is a closing off of oneself from love, a final refusal to be vulnerable, to let others penetrate and share our being.
Our age understands this, but it too often uses this truth both as a weapon and as a camouflage. It uses it as a weapon to force premature and irresponsible submission in love. It uses it as a camouflage to cover its emotional, psychological and sexual immaturities. How many persons, of both sexes, have been had (sometimes for extended periods of time) because they believed that by not submitting they would somehow be judged, by themselves and by others, as uptight, Victorian, lifeless, dried up? Nobody wants to be these things. Yet nobody is going to convince me that some irresponsible, immature, self-seeking, sexually promiscuous and impatient person, capable of great risk and abandonment in love, is more loving, and more of an instrument of healing in God’s kingdom than are that infinite number of God’s genuine poor, the uptight, who go though life struggling, unable to fully abandon and let go. To love is to abandon oneself to the dance, but that is not easily nor often achieved. It requires great maturity, great chastity, great forgiveness and a long period of time. We are still young and we live in the unconsummated phase of the kingdom. Give yourself as gift only when you can do it respectfully, lovingly, and chastely. Otherwise, the love will not lead to hope, but to despair. You will not be healed, but further wounded. Risk loving, but calculate whether this particular relationship, this particular penetration of love, will leave within you the imprint of God’s spirit or of some other spirit.