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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