Monday, April 14, 2008

Wild Faith: Uninhibited Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

I approach this element of wild faith with trepidation. I must fight the maudlin emotion I am so often prone to experience and express.

How does anyone write about uninhibited love? One of my favorite bloggers wrote about this kind of love recently. Because I have been writing about Wild Faith, this piece had been saved, and after I read theirs I was reluctant to finish mine. But their thoughts made me think, ponder, and evaluate.

I have often failed miserably to love the people in my life who most needed and deserved it. How can I speak of such?

I have been most inhibited with the people I love and have loved. Holding back, clutching to my shallow breast this flimsy thing I have called love. I have guarded it with a fervor that now seems so ridiculous.

And does real, uninhibited love need to be guarded? Is it uninhibited if it is held close and tight—clutched in a tight fist and given away only if there is reasonable evidence it will be reciprocated?

Is this the uninhibited love of wild faith?

There is no greater need than to love and to be loved. And it seems to me that all other needs stem from these. All.

Inhibitions have to do with fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of censure, fear of ridicule, fear of inadequacy, fear of disclosure, fear of expectation, and fear of pain.

What pithy statement can I offer to dismiss all these fears? Who am I to offer a solution? How can I suggest that if you just do the right things…then all these fears will dissipate and you will be left with pure love to give and gain? I would be lying to you if I suggest that if you just love uninhibitedly then you will never experience these fears. Even if you do practice uninhibited love you will most likely experience these fears. The real key is will you love anyway?

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians—we read this long, beautiful description of love and we curl inward knowing at exactly what points we have fallen short. And we dismiss the whole piece trying to convince ourselves that Paul was simply exercising his poetic license. Surely, no one can really love like that.

David sure did not. Or did he? What about Jonathan? What about this friend, this son of the king—his rival for the throne? David’s love for Jonathan continued long after Jonathan died in battle. Jonathan’s crippled son was brought to live as a part of the royal family—protected by David. (And what about Mary Magdalene?)

Uninhibited love embraces another in spite of knowing that there is a chance of being hurt. This kind of love gives regardless of the knowledge it will not be reciprocated at all or in the same intensity as it was given.

This love weaves and wends an essential layer to wild faith. If you pull on this thread the whole garment unravels like the coat of a cartoon character caught on a wayward nail.

When this kind of love does experience the fears I mentioned, it acknowledges them…looks them straight in the face, takes a deep breath and decides to love anyway. This kind of love takes Jesus’ answer to Peter seriously—forgive seventy times seven.

Uninhibited love is not the tolerant-do-what-ever-you want kind of emotion. This is a sterner breed of love born out of decision and will. This love is made of more than the whispers and tendrils of whimsy and romance. This love is only romantic because it is eternal. This love is stronger and more enduring than people’s shortcomings, idiosyncrasies, addictions, and failures. This love is stronger than death.

When we allow ourselves to love someone without inhibitions we have invested in their eternity. And we have invested in our own.

Paul says three things will remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

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