On my way home from a fun night celebrating the end of a semester, I got into a cab and put my head against the window. Two blocks in, I hear:
“How can people think there is no God?”
Sigh. You’ve got to be kidding me… I’ve just had enough Sam Adams Summer Ale that I may need to undo my jean’s button, and this man is asking me about God.
I told him that I am sure plenty of people have good reason to think there is not a God…those that have tragedy befall them, those that are sad, those that have lost children in Iraq…. He replied that God is all around us. I said yes, if you can see God as both love and sadness, because there is plenty of both. We compared our knowledge about what the Bible reveals about Armageddon, and the insane amount of recent natural disasters. Turns out Mojohn and I have the same transfixion on the ash cloud, as well as the shocking amount of tragic natural phenomena that have happened in the last two years – tsumamis, earthquakes, volcanos. In our short tenure together, Mojohn enlightened me to one thing. “We have to live despite these things and know God.” I asked him what he meant, and he explained that, with the state of the world today, we have to live everyday as if there were an earthquake, live like we mean it…know that there is a God in the world, feel Him, and see him in both the good and the bad.
I have little else to write tonight as I’m beyond emotionally spent, and now have to study for finals. But I read something I would like to share that made me halt, and highlighted the sentence that resonated with me most. I hope you listen.
Often in our lives, we fall prey to the idea of a thing rather than actually experiencing the thing itself. We see this at play in our love lives and in the love lives of our friends, our family, and even fictional characters. The conceptualizing, depiction, and pursuit of true love are multimillion-dollar industries in the modern world. However, very little of what is offered actually leads us to an authentic experience of love. Moreover, as we grasp for what we think we want and fail to find it, we may suffer and bring suffering to others. When this is the case, when we suffer more than we feel healed, we can be fairly certain that what we have found is not love but something else.
When we feel anxious, excited, nervous, and thrilled, we are probably experiencing romance, not love. Romance can be a lot of fun as long as we do not try to make too much of it. If we try to make more of it than it is, the romance then becomes painful. Romance may lead to love, but it may also fade without blossoming into anything more than a flirtation. If we cling to it and try to make it more, we might find ourselves pining for a fantasy, or worse, stuck in a relationship that was never meant to last.
Real love is identifiable by the way it makes us feel. Love should feel good. There is a peaceful quality to an authentic experience of love that penetrates to our core, touching a part of ourselves that has always been there. True love activates this inner being, filling us with warmth and light. An authentic experience of love does not ask us to look a certain way, drive a certain car, or have a certain job. It takes us as we are, no changes required. When people truly love us, their love for us awakens our love for ourselves. They remind us that what we seek outside of ourselves is a mirror image of the lover within. In this way, true love never makes us feel needy or lacking or anxious. Instead, true love empowers us with its implicit message that we are, always have been, and always will be, made of love.