Friday, August 15, 2008

Being Turned Inside-Out

If rational souls are designed to love, why is it that we so often fail to love, or love only imperfectly? Why is it that love often feels like it's going against every instinct we have?

Here, I am not talking just about romantic love. I am talking about everything that requires us to engage another living being on a personal, relational level--whether that being is God or another human.

Love is natural because we are human. Love is hard because we are fallen. We are all of us born with broken souls and our souls have to grow as well as they can but often there is still some imperfection, something that did not grow straight the way it should. If we are to love perfectly, we sometimes have to rebreak and reset some part of our soul.

All love requires vulnerability, all love requires surrendering some part of ourselves. Often, when I am being stretched by the demands of love, I get a mental image of being turned inside-out. The stuff on my insides is being slowly pulled out and given to the other. It hurts sometimes, for the simple reason that I am broken. In order for me to love my heart needs to be broken and reset. So far I'm not even through all my "operations", if you will. Each time I'm broken I get a little closer to the ideal of love. My soul looks a little more like it's supposed to look. But so far I don't love perfectly, and until I do I must continue to be broken.
I've prayed for brokenness before. That might sound strangely masochistic, but I wouldn't keep doing it if I didn't see that it was actually more like medicine. For example: As I was contemplating my life just before this past Lent started, I prayed about what I needed to accomplish spiritually speaking during Lent and came to the conviction that I needed to have my heart broken. I had gotten too settled into my comfort zone of little vanities and would have to be shaken out of that if I wanted to get anywhere in my relationship with God. So I prayed and sure enough I emerged six weeks later rather raw after having had all the accretions scraped off--some of them none too gently. Two weeks after that I embarked on the adventure that is loving the Cobbler. I don't think I would have been ready for him suddenly changing the direction of our friendship if I hadn't gone through that Lent. It's only been a few months since then, but I have grown so much it seems I must have lived through a few decades.
That's why I keep praying to be broken, to be turned inside-out, because things always happen in the same order: 1) I get too complacent with living in my own little well-defined world. 2) God shatters my sense of order (either with my cooperation or without) 3) God shows me a new world so much broader and more beautiful than anything I could have imagined before. I figure I might as well cooperate with Step 2. In conclusion, since I don't derive enough from C. S. Lewis on this blog, I'll leave you with a quote:
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want
to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an
animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all
entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But
in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be
broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be
vulnerable.

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