Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Blogger: LOVE, part 1.

“I'm truly sorry, I’m only human!” Only human? Basically, we use this statement to point to the obvious reality that we are flawed and imperfect beings. But, is that what it means to be human? Is being only human a bad thing?

What if being only human is a good thing? The problem isn't actually our humanity, but all of the things that get in the way of being fully human. Perhaps what we mean is, I have this habit of making choices that inhibit me from being fully human. This temptation to trade our full humanity for something else, is something we all experience on some level.

So what is it that makes you and I fully human? What is our defining essence? I believe at the core of who we are as humans is our intrinsic longing for relational intimacy. And not just romantic intimacy, that's only one aspect of love. I'm referring to an expanded image of intimacy; our need to love and be loved, to feel as though we are truly known, fully valued, and completely accepted by others.

Love woos us, captivates us, compels us, moves us, and occasionally even torments us. It's possibly the most life-giving and most dangerous arena of our lives. No matter how unique and different we are from each other, center to our being is a craving for genuine intimacy. To feel deeply connected. Although, we may not want to admit that because our western culture values individualism, independence, and autonomy. To need connectedness with others almost sounds weak, doesn't it?

Isn't it interesting that the worst form of punishment we inflict on a criminal is solitary confinement? Removing an individual from interaction with others is torturous. It points to the need for the soul to deeply connect with other people.

Our western mindset preaches look out for number one, and it's your right to do whatever you feel like. All in the name of independence and freedom. However, a few years back I heard an entirely new way of thinking about freedom that's reshaped my perspective. It's the belief that genuine freedom isn't license to do whatever I want, it's the ability to live most lovingly — to live most human. It is when I'm free to love without limit that freedom has no boundaries. I am truly free when I live generously and am not bounded by greed. I'm free to be gracious and merciful, not feel the need to judge and prove I'm better than another. I'm free to take risks and live courageously, not become tempted by apathy or motivated by fear of failure.

Recently, i was hurt by someone i care deeply for. I felt rejected because the love i offered wasn't mutual. What was i supposed to do? At the time, I felt the safest place to be was to withdraw and disconnect from others. The rejection, the unmet expectations, the feeling of being betrayed by love, moved me to become embittered to love. Ironically, love was the ointment i needed to heal. My remedy of choice, however, was to hide in isolation. "I'm not going to be vulnerable and feel the pain anymore!" And sadly, i feel as though that choice caused my core to wither. The more disconnected i chose to become from meaningful relationships, the more indifferent I became to the welfare of others. I had extended the invitation for bitterness, envy, arrogance, and self-centeredness to take residence in my heart.

These spaces are void of love and are toxic. Because we feel at our gut level as though something is missing, we look for substitutes as an attempt to feed our longing; superficial acquaintances, cheap meaningless sex, empty religion, and uncontrollable addictions. Yet, our cravings are only temporarily satiated and ultimately we're typically left feeling more lonely and disconnected.

We become.... well, inhumane.

I firmly believe that we become fully human by embodying a life of love, not simply feeling love with our emotions. I'm talking about being and becoming love. When our whole person embodies love our thoughts are instinctively loving, our values become other-focused rather than self-focused, our actions are naturally edifying, and we shift from begin self-serving to showing others they are valued. Love is not passive, but active. The person who travels the way of love, doesn't approach relationships wondering "what can this person do for me," they ask "how can I be a gift to this person." They don't view people as products to consume, they see relationships as opportunities to invest.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful insight! I really enjoyed reading this and it pushes me to becoming more loving. I think you have some very valid ideas that we 'Westerners' just don't get. We can see the effects of self centeredness but don't realize the remedy is Love. Did you learn this from your mom? haha I'm proud of you son.


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