My first understanding of wild love came with the birth of our firstborn, my only daughter.
After 2 hours of pushing, and the threat of a trip to the operating room, this beautiful, pink, screaming girl was delivered into my life, and into my heart, and I'd never known love like that before.
Instantly I understood how much my parents loved me. Why they protected us. Why they worked hard to provide for us. Why my mom stayed up late, stenciling "ESPRIT" on a white sweatshirt from Kmart, so I could have a designer sweatshirt like the other 5th-graders. She loved me like crazy.
It doesn't matter whether your babies came from your body, or came from another: when you become a mama, and when those little munchkins wrap themselves around your heart, your understanding of love changes. Suddenly you get it, on a totally different level.
I write about love, because I have been loved and cared for my entire life. And the knowledge, or revelation, rather, that there are MANY who don't know that love, or protection, or security makes me woozy.
As I read about orphanages and slums and girls being beaten and sold for money, my stomach lurches and I wonder if my heart can take it. I never knew. I mean, I guess I kind of knew, but I didn't understand. I didn't know. How much of this understanding can I stand?
I have been given so much. We eat good food, and sleep warmly, and safely, and I am loved by many, and I am valued by many, and I have a whole 38 years of being filled up.
These gifts, this grace, this love, that has molded and grown and harbored me, has reached maximum capacity in the vessel that is my life. I am full to overflowing, and I have more than 99% of the world and yet I don't feel fully alive. I ache for more joy, more fullness. Something in me remains unsatisfied.
Maybe because written into the fabric of my being is knowing that you can’t be happy unless you give it away. That all of those blessings, all of that grace, is not meant to be hoarded and kept safe and locked up in my little life in Minnesota.
Maybe because God knows that there are so many who lack so much of what I’ve always had.
It’s like there is a wild, rushing river inside of me, pulsing and begging to be released, and it’s the 38 years of blessings that have just piled up inside of me, and it’s crushing me, the weight of it all, and I HAVE TO SHARE IT or I will explode.
Yes, she was right when she said that fire in the belly can come from gratitude for the blessings. That when we are crazy, radically grateful, there is born a fire that cannot be contained. And wasn’t it that old philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, who said it best:
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
And that quote, which I have loved since high school, which spoke to me then, and brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat then, screams to me now: Love is a fire that cannot be contained. There is nothing more powerful, more catalytic, more consuming, than crazy, God-induced, crazy-thankful LOVE.
We love because He first loved, us, right? And greater love has no man than this, that He lay down his life for His friends, and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself, and it really all comes down to this:
LOVE CHANGES LIFE.
And I knew it, 17 years ago, sitting in Perkins with my roommate, studying and eating up the Word which was so new and fresh to me then, we had underlined it in the latter chapters of John, where we discovered that it all boils down to this simple, profound truth: LOVE is what matters, because Love is what moves us to change things that matter. Love is what motivates us to extend grace, to extend hope. Love is the beginning and the end, and He has a name, and He is the Word, and by Him all things were thought up and created and ARE.
And Love covers over everything, and Love is what draws us to repentance, and it’s His Love that gives grace, that gives gifts, and His Love compels us to gratitude and loving back, and it’s the circle of LIFE:
He loves and gifts us, we love and receive with gratitude, we pour out and His gifts to us become gifts to others. Repeated over and over again, this crazy, grace-filled love pouring out from God,
back to Him,
and it just. keeps. going.
Love in action. Love as a verb.
This, I think, is where the secret of joy comes from: being crazy-grateful for God's crazy-good grace-filled, love-laced gifts, and pouring out that grace, that love, to the world around us.