Saturday, February 28, 2009

Love--God's, Others' and Mine

I just finished reading my son's latest blog entry from a couple of days ago. He quotes Henri Nouwen:

"The love that came to you in particular, concrete human friendships and that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic. It does not have to be denied dangerous and idolatrous. A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such. When human relationships prove to be unliveable because you demand that your friends love you in ways that are beyond human capacity, you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received. When you try to die to that love in order to find God's love, you are doing something God does not want. The task is not to die to life-giving relationships but to realize that the love you received in them is part of a greater love." [The Inner Voice of Reason, p. 28]


That's got me thinking. My "[not so] dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic." This agrees with other things I've read. God gave us this desire to be loved. It is part of being human. We were created to have it.

"It does not have to be denied dangerous and idolatrous." He's still talking about the desire for this kind of love. But what happens when this desire leads one into a dangerous and idolatrous relationship, such as I had with Pearl? What then?

"A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such." Even the love I received from Pearl?

"When human relationships prove to be unliveable because you demand that your friends love you in ways that are beyond human capacity, you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received." My relationship with Pearl proved to be unliveable not because either one of us loved the other in ways "that are beyond human capacity," but because of the way we expressed that love. The problem wasn't that either of us were unable to love in the way the other wanted but rather, that we lived that love in ways that dishonoured God and our husbands. Does the rest of Nouwen's sentence ring true, "you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received"? I think so. The love was real. What then?

"When you try to die to that love in order to find God's love, you are doing something God does not want." Does this mean I was wrong to walk away from her? I don't think so. If I believe in God at all and if I believe that God speaks to his children in various ways, I have to believe that he indeed told me to leave her. So what about Nouwen's statement? Did I try to die to our love for each other in order to find God's love? Well, what does it mean to die to love? If it means to deny it ever existed, then no, I did not. If it means stop loving, I haven't been able to. If it means ending the relationship, then yes, I have tried to die to our love, but it wasn't to find God's love, it was to honour God's love for me over hers.

"The task is...to realize that the love you received in them is part of a greater love." The greater love, of course is God's love. God is love and all love comes from him including my love for Pearl and hers for me. What doesn't come from God is the way we distort that love, as Pearl and I did and as many others do as well. The love itself is part of the whole--God is love. The distortions are not.

What are your thoughts?

3 comments:

Samantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha said...

I suppose I believe that Satan often misleads us by trying to counterfeit that which is pure and beautiful. In the case you've given, of your love for Pearl, and hers for you--I think it's vital for women to feel love from other women, and God intends us to love one another. He does not, however, intend for that love to imitate the sexual bonds he established for men and women, regardless of how natural and right it might feel.

Just my thoughts. I might also add that it's often so difficult to discern what is real when we are caught up in intense emotion of any kind--especially when it seems to fill a deep need or assuage a nagging thirst. I have found, in my life, that those needs and thirsts can only be truly filled when I drink from Christ's well, when I put him first, and when I recognize that I am the child who does not always understand what is best for me.

I love Henri Nouwen's observations. Thank you for posting this.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Yeah, I agree. I especially like and agree with your last sentence. Thanks, Sam.