Love and Fear

Sometimes when my son hugs me, I feel com­plete­ly hum­bled and un­de­serv­ing of the love he shares with me. My love for him pours out in an un­stop­pable and un­end­ing tor­rent; it is easy to love him be­cause it is in­vol­un­tary. My love for him is so con­sum­ing that I don’t have the spare neu­rons to ex­pect any­thing back. So, when it comes back in the shape of his smile, its like get­ting the wind knocked out of you — it is be­wil­der­ing, ter­ri­fy­ing. So, when Christians talk about liv­ing in fear of the Lord, I imag­ine it’s a fear en­gen­dered by be­ing over­whelmed by a love you don’t un­der­stand.

Love can make you hum­ble when you re­ceive it, but it can al­so make you hum­ble when you give it. Sometimes you give, and some­times it gets pulled from you. You can­not con­trol it, you are over­awed by it, you fear look­ing at your face, fear your lips, fear your hands be­cause you’re not sure what they’ll do. Fear that the love will cause it­self harm, or harm to those it is in­tend­ed for, or that it might not be re­ceived at all.

But this ter­ror noth­ing com­pared to when your love is re­ceived and then giv­en back to you. Love is hon­or­ing some­one more than your­self, it liv­ing for some­one or some­thing else, some­thing be­yond you. It’s not re­al­ly sur­pris­ing then, that, when the per­son you love al­so loves you, that the ac­knowl­edge­ment and re­cep­tion of that af­fec­tion is con­found­ing. How could I, who am con­vinced that this per­son is more im­por­tant to me than my own be­ing, com­pre­hend that they might feel a sim­i­lar way about me. How could I be wor­thy?

That must be like stand­ing in­side a bell as it is rung. For what could sus­tain love bet­ter than re­ceiv­ing it back, am­pli­fied, from the one you give it to?

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