December 23, 2018
You may have heard it said already – the opposite of fear is not faith, but rather it is love. Love and fear cannot exist in the same moment. Love and nerves? Of course! – ask anyone who has experienced a first kiss, a walk down the aisle, or been reunited with a sweetheart from long ago.
What I am Thinking About
Love. Surprise! I have had several love awakenings through my life: that first young love, the love of church community and God I discovered as a teenager, the long-term and deeply rooted love of marriage. After my daughter was born (10 years ago!) I experienced one of those awakenings. In the days after her birth, as the shock and adrenaline began to wear off and I learned to adapt to so much less sleep, I became aware of a new kind of love that came with this wee babe. It was a love I had never experienced, a love I didn’t even know existed. WOW! What a love! I began to see with new eyes: if I love this baby this much, then my mom must love ME this much! And my neighbour must love his kids this much! And that stranger, and that stranger, all those people are SO LOVED! I was suddenly aware of this other dimension of love that existed all around us to a degree that I could never have understood before. Previous to that, raised by a good feminist, I had struggled with the notion of a Father God. But this awareness of the love that parent holds for their child shed new light on the way I could understand God’s love for each of us on earth. Now I can relate to a Mother-Father God, parent of us all.
What I am Grateful For
Almost three years after that experience with my daughter, I sat on the beach in Vancouver, very pregnant with my second child, wondering how I could possibly love another small human as much as I loved that first one. It felt like my heart was already filled to the brim – how could I muster more? Maybe number two and I would just never have the bond that number one and I had. How would I be able to ensure they both felt loved even if I thought it was impossible for me to love that much again?
A few short long, hot July days later, our son came flying into our family (in our living room…but that’s another story) and I was hit with another love awakening: these babies come with their own supply of love! I was, once again, blown away by the capacity we have as humans for love.
What I am Inspired By
Perhaps it is the season of pregnant anticipation that has me reflecting on my own birthing experiences, but I cannot think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the coming of Jesus. If my little ones came with so much love, and enlivened in me a love beyond my previous understanding, then surely this Jesus, in his humanity and divinity, can bring that on a cosmological scale. Sometimes in the rushing of the season, the cleaning, preparing, forgetting and hurrying to do what was forgotten, our fears of not being good enough, not making Christmas perfect, not having enough distracts us from the truth of this season. That we are enough – not because of what we have accomplished or remembered or finished – but because we are loved. We are loved beyond our own understanding of what that means. We are surrounded by love, held in love, drowning in love. And we can allow ourselves to be steeped in love if we are willing to open our eyes to all that is already around us and what is on the way.
How I am Practicing my Faith
Today I want to surrender once again to that love. That love that doesn’t come from me but comes from beyond me. It is a practice, a weekly, daily, even minute to minute practice. Because we can so easily slide into fear, into expectations, resentment, and busy-ness. And when we do that, it is as if we become colour blind to the hues of love we are already immersed in. In a culture that is always railing at us that we need this or that to be a good mom/wife/parent/spouse/etc. it takes conscious and deliberate refutation of that message to say no – no, I refuse to live in a monochrome world of fear. I will be bold and live in the technicolour world of God where I am loveable and a lover of others, even when that love comes with great risk.
Jesus, inner light, let me welcome your love.