I’ve just written to someone “you are plain bloody marvellous”.
But what is even more marvellous is that I acknowledge it, believe it, and can say it. And I know it to be true. Here is a person to trust, to celebrate, to thank God for.
Writers aren’t known for their high level of trust in their fellow man. We are not the most gullible or impressionable. Indeed we may be the most cynical of all people. And I, personally, am not a loving and soft person. I’m not easily won over and there’s about … oooh… let me see…. three people I have ever, ever wholly trusted in my whole life. And this person is number three.
Writers, or at least dramatists, see the games people play, we poke and ferret around under the surface of every conversation. We are not ‘nice’ people, us writers. We see the sins of the world and find them banal and dreary, much as a priest might regard the weekly confessions of petty meanness and shabby sin. We are unimpressed by appearances, and not easily fooled by words. And that means we sometimes (often) hold ourselves apart, or above, the people around us. Like I said, we are not nice people.
If you had said to me, a few years ago, “one day you will find it easier to love your fellow man, easy to look at your companions with affection and acceptance, and your heart will be suddenly and expectedly tugged by the smallest thoughts, your eyes prickling with tears, by the tiniest mentions of God’s love” then I would have said “Oh, per lease!” or maybe “Phuuuut!”
But it seems that all this has changed. I am like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, I have found my heart. Mind you, that lion was a terrible scaredy cat and coward and I don’t think I’ve ever been that. I’ve faced my fears, or at least learned to defy them and give them the finger. Survive them. But we learn our emotional responses in childhood and I don’t think- until now – I ever learned to love with anything like courage. I don’t think I’ve loved with trust.
If love means courage and trust, then this is hard.
Certainly I loved my husband, and I sure do love my daughter and grand children, but there’s a difference in that old love and this new love….. An indefinable difference…. so should I even try to define it?
Maybe I’ll try to define what it isn’t. This new love isn’t sentimentality, or piety, or softness, or even sociability, or inter-dependance. I’m still Luce after all, a bit impatient (!), easily bored, quite demanding…. I still avoid small talk, duck out of group conversations…. can’t cope when people are hypocrites or liars, or say daft simplistic things… See? I have a long way to go.
But just this last few weeks I’ve realised that I’m in the middle of a miracle;
My greatest miracle, after a strange hard childhood, a defiant growing-up, an independent adult life, is that I am at last learning to love with tenderness, not ferocity. I’m learning to love with vulnerability not self-protection or a sense of ownership. The world loves because we need each other but this new love is not about need, it’s significantly stronger and exists because I need only God, no one else at all. Yep…. I don’t need anyone else at all. OK, day to day I am lonely and a bit fed-up with this 27 years of single living, and I’d love companionship, of course I would, but His love overflows, fills me to the brim, and then – unstoppable – reaches out to others. I don’t need, but I do love.
Is that what we mean when we talk about transformation? I think it’s part of it.
Have I got it right yet? No.
Have I got it all yet? No.
Do I grasp how great this gift of God’s love really is? No, but I’m getting there.
With God’s love, life is truly and irrevocably transformed. When once you have accepted and known the love of God, nothing, nothing, will ever be the same. You will never be the same, and your understanding of the world will never be the same.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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.
We love because he first loved us.
That’s from the first letter of John. That last sentence used to give me a bit of trouble – I argued that I didn’t love ‘because He first loved me.’ I loved because he is God and entirely loveable. But I misunderstood, I read lazily. (btw, I’m learning to read less lazily. 70 and still learning) The sentence isn’t ‘We love HIM because He first loved us.’ it’s We love because he first loved us.
I love my friends now because Jesus first loved me, because He gave me His love, He enabled me to love. This love is from Him, and of Him. And it has no beginning and no end.
It just is.
Our perfect God, our whole and complete Gospel.
It’s never too late.