What I know is that love demands vulnerability, and I cannot know the former fully without understanding and embracing the latter. But as Capon pointed out, playing it safe is not Divine. If we are to be imitators of Christ, we must become vulnerable as Christ was vulnerable. And if we are to learn anything about his vulnerability, it’s that it’s painful and humiliating, and that’s the sort of willingness needed when love is involved. It’s not just this happy thing that floats. It’s real life and corresponds to real life actions that have real-life consequences.
The funny and ironic thing, I suppose is that even the most careful of us cannot avoid heartache. People can still hurt us in spite of our distance, detachment, and defenses. I know. I’ve felt it. People can do dirty, rotten things, and they can be incredibly selfish and mean. And we cannot escape it. The worst we can do is pretend not to care. All of us will feel pain, and I suppose the better effort would be spent on navigating the waters of love’s demands and pains rather than playing blind and dumb in hopes that it leaves us well enough alone.
We have so many silly notions, but all it really comes down to is putting another before self. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and it’s not unlike what God requires of us anyhow (love your neighbor as yourself). So, I suppose it could even be said that love is simply an exercise of gratitude and vulnerability, a display of faith.
While it’s entirely understandable to fear other sinful human beings, it’s ludicrous to imagine that God is not capable of watching over and caring for all of his children at every step along the way, and in a very real sense, opening up one’s world to embrace God’s moment-by-moment care for us is part of learning to trust Him fully and learning to recognize that nothing happens apart from Him.
I know my greatest fear is to step out into a world I cannot navigate on my own. But this is nothing short of practical deism if we’re being honest. God demands that we leave the God-business to God and that we get back to doing what we’re called to do which is love God and love our neighbor. Really, truly, vulnerably love God and love our neighbor. And my guess is this looks a lot different than the way many of us live our lives every day.
The practical things we can all do are probably going to vary from person to person because we each have our own areas of weakness. But it’s something just to start looking for them, to take note as they make their appearances. For me, I know I need to stop pushing people away out of fear. I know I need to embrace the situations God’s put me in and to make the best of them even if it requires an uncomfortable sort of honesty. Because this is how we grow up. This is how we mature. This is how.