Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Abiding In Love

In her excellent post, "Love, Limits, and Loss," Elizabeth Scalia (better known as The Anchoress) briefly explains her own struggle with a neurological condition brought on by untreated Lyme's Disease, and meditates on the hard calling to remain faithful to a spouse who no longer knows your name.

My generation has grown up with the knowledge that had our parents made different decisions, had our conception been too "inconvenient," we would never have seen the light of day. We have seen our own parents and the parents of our friends divorce and remarry, sometimes repeatedly. Many of us grew up hearing whispers of Doctor Kevorkian and euthanasia, and wondering why some people were willing to let a doctor kill. We are all too familiar with love that knows limits. My parents have often remarked on an interesting phenomenon: whereas members of earlier generations responded to "thank you" with the phrase, "you're welcome," members of my generation instead offer the assurance that it was "no problem." This seems rude to my parents, but I can't help wondering if it stems from our subconscious awareness of what our society does with inconveniences. We are very eager not to be a problem.

If we do not know how to love without limit, we also do not know how to receive limitless love. I have a condition of my own: I was diagnosed several years ago with bipolar disorder. I can spiral down into the depths of despair at the drop of a hat; I've found that it makes it almost impossible for me to believe in love, to trust that I am loved, no matter how strong the evidence may be. On my good days, I can accept that God might tolerate with my existence. On the bad days, all I can think of is the inconvenience that I pose to those around me--how could anyone love a stone in the road?

Love demands both a giving and a receiving. We must be willing to "give and give and give again," in the words of the hymn. But we must also be willing to receive, to owe, to be in debt to another. This is a hard thing. I fear that kind of receiving; I do not want another to have any claim over me. But even that fear is a revelation: to fear control is to be concerned with power, not with love. The universe is not a banker's ledger, toting up debits and credits; our purpose is not to end our lives owing nothing and being owed nothing.

To love without limits is to stop keeping score, to stop worrying about who's done more for whom, and to no longer fret about whether or not one is receiving his own fair share of love. It is not a zero sum game, but we have become accustomed to thinking that it is. We will not risk such a radical love, for fear of being used.

I believe; help Thou my unbelief. I want to love; help Thou my unloveliness and warm Thou my cold heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment