Love and other Dangerous Goods

Love isn’t easy. Especially when you don’t feel like loving. I’ve heard it said that Love is not an emotion, it’s a choice, though. Sadly, it’s a choice that I have to actually make, sometimes in spite of emotions. Sometimes in spite of strong emotions:  anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. Through all of these reactions we have to the people we find ourselves among and situations we find ourselves in, we’re called to love.

Love when the one you love has taken advantage of you. Love when love means placing boundaries. Love when love isn’t going to gain you anything but a heart softened, when it wants to callous.

The Callouses on my Hands

My heart wants to callous. I know this, because immediate reaction to rejection, insult, or deception is to close myself off. To say “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what they think. I don’t need friends.” But, oh, I do. And they need me too. They need me to be patient, kind, generous, humble, and other-serving. They need me to bear with their weakness, and I need them to bear with mine.

Relationship with God is not solely vertical. It’s clear from the first commands God gave to his people after freeing them from slavery. Half of the commands are about relationship with God, and half of them are about being in right relationship with other people; parents, neighbors, strangers, and enemies. God doesn’t want us to separate ourselves from other people so that we never fail, are never hurt, and never distracted from him. Rather, when we fail, when we hurt, and when we’re face-to-face with other people, God is there softening our heart. God is there, sometimes peeling off the callouses so we remember what it’s like to trust.

A calloused heart has no room for kindness or humility, a calloused heart keeps a record of wrongs. When I feel rejection, I want to be protected, and callouses protect my hands well enough, but only love protects my heart. Only love can help me to trust, hope, and persevere when I feel angry, when I feel afraid, when I am sad.

Because callouses help to protect against the emotions I don’t want to feel. Love makes space for every emotion, and helps them to serve others first.