Monday, June 21, 2010

Chapter Ten: Loving Beyond Reason

(Since I was on a mini vacation last week with my hubby, I am playing "catch up" and publishing 2 posts back to back.  So, if you're following along with our book study, be sure to read the previous post as well.  Also, keep checking The Bloom Book Club for updates!)

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one.  It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. " C.S. Lewis

Paula starts off chapter 10 by saying that "our hearts are safe until love enters the picture.......The hope in becoming a strong woman with a soft heart is that God would set us free to love - lavishly and with wild abandon - the people he puts into our lives.  That's what we've been made for. But loving well is no small assignment."

How true is this?!  I can think of many close relationships in my life where I've loved and been hurt (and when I've been the one to do the hurting). Sometimes, we stink at loving.  And sometimes love just stinks.  It never feels good to be let down, abandoned, betrayed, neglected.....

"Loving someone is the one venture in life in which the more you succeed, the more you have to lose."

So so true.

But....

"The capacity to love - to really give ourselves to someone in a marriage, or even a friendship - is what God made us for.  He calls us, first of all, to risk our hearts with Him......to love others out of the love we've been given."

"We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts." Romans 5:3-5

Paula explains that the "greatest evidence that we know God is relational"....as found in John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

There is so much in loving each other and having (and sustaining) close relationships.  Love.  It sounds so simple, but because of our complexities and our JUNK, we make it complex and difficult at times. 

She quotes Henri J. M. Nouwen, a French priest, "We must hold each other as we would hold a wounded bird.  If we grip too tightly, we will crush the life out of the other person.  And if we don't hold securely enough, of course, the relationship will falter altogether."

I have a tendency to not hold securely enough.  I don't know what it is, or which of my JUNK drawers I need to look in to find the reason, but I usually step back when I should maybe step a little closer.  It doesn't come naturally for me to open up and share my most intimate feelings or struggles....maybe that's why I write.  I find it easier to share here. :)  Thanks for listening.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I sometimes offer advice too quickly in an effort to try and "fix" things. Because I'm a peace maker, and I like to help!  But that's not always a good thing.   "In a close relationship, we have to recognize the part of the equation that uniquely belongs to the other person.  It's their choice, their feelings, their responsibility, their painful past - that kind of thing."  In other words, sometimes stepping back is the right thing to do.  Sometimes loving is letting go, or at least giving a little room for God to do what only He can do.

"...close relationships always contain generous measures of strength and softness, of yes and no.  Love in a fallen world utterly requires them both."

Loving well requires that we say "yes" but that we also say "no" when it needs to be said.  The strength to say "no" is "a part of the equation."  Paula explains that setting boundaries in relationships is one way of saying no.  (If you are interested, there is a book about setting boundaries that is really good!  "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)

"Loving someone well is a kind of tending of the relationship, not unlike cultivating a garden.  The relationship itself is almost a third being: not you, not the other person, but a living thing itself.  For the sake of the relationship - for the sake of love itself - you offer the warmth and attention that would allow something good to grow, even though past hurt can make you wary.  But the relationship, like any good garden, needs cultivation.  And similarly, honesty insists that you tell the truth about the weeds taking over in certain spaces.  Any real relationship will take some back-breaking work in the hot sun with a hoe in your hand.  A good gardener knows that if she ignores the weeds, they take over.  The reward comes in small moments of intimacy and connectedness - moments only, as elusive as any summer butterfly - but they do come. We just cultivate the garden as best we can. And try to be patient."

Study Questions (pg. 229-232)

1.  When are the times in a close relationship that you are most reminded of the exquisite pain that loving someone well entails? 

2.  If your heart had actual walls around it, would those walls be too thick - meaning that it's hard to get close to you? Or would those walls be too thin - meaning that you are more easily taken advantage of and you require too little of others? Why?

3 friends had this to say:

Doris Plaster said...

Love, Love... such a complex subject. Great elements brought into the reflection. Thanks, Shelly.

Also, thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comment.

Blessings.

Doris
www.doris-socialworker.blogspot.com

starla said...

Two of the hardest people in my life to LOVE were my husband and my best friend. They have rubbed me wrong in everyway there is....and through it all God has taught me the MOST about LOVE through these two people. How to be faithful, loyal, honest even when you want to run, how to be vulnerable and not hide, how to stand up for myself, how to guard anothers heart, and how to be myself in the midst of such differences of personality. I wouldnt trade them for the world. They are my hearts key holders through whom God teaches me.

V said...

Hope you don't mind, I linked to this post in my post for today, here's the link!
From time to time I may do this, but I'll always let you know!!

http://siobhans-chillies.blogspot.com/2010/06/picking-bone-with-satan.html