Learning to Love
This past Sunday, one of my good friends’ parents hosted a small, intimate ‘thank you’ brunch.
Her father began (as anyone born between 1950-60 would) by quoting a famous Streisand
song: “People who need people are the luckiest in the world.”
Wait, what? How is that true?
That challenges my every instinct. Needing people makes me, well, needy. Right? Maybe not. I’ve been learning the hard lesson that the degree to which I allow myself to be available and vulnerable to others is a direct reflection of how available and vulnerable I am to the Lord: To His teaching, healing, filling, fixing. Ah, but being vulnerable to others opens us up to be hurt and disappointed! Yes, but it also opens opportunity for deep relationship and authentic community…allowing God to move through us in deep and powerful ways together.
Truth is, my friend’s father was thanking a group of friends for helping to keep his daughter alive. She has Type 1 diabetes and within the past year or so has developed a condition known as ‘hypoglycemia unawareness’–which means her body has lost its ability to alert her when her blood sugar is dropping. If left unchecked for too long, dangerously low levels of blood sugar can result in seizures, loss of consciousness, or far worse, death.
Every morning, for a couple years now, my friend texts a group of about eight people letting them know she woke up. Once every couple weeks, that text doesn’t get sent and one of the eight need to go over to her apartment and literally pour orange juice down her throat to get her blood sugar levels back up and help her regain consciousness.
My friend’s diabetes forces her to need friends in a very real and daily way. And the truth is that her friends appreciate the opportunity to give, serve, and love–and she has learned to receive that love gratefully, humbly. The irony is that, for most of the people I know–including this friend and including myself- admitting need and asking for help is an incredibly hard and humbling exercise. No one I know likes to need something from others. Even more ironically, in my immaturity, I have worn that as a badge of honor.
Yet these past years have been a lesson in vulnerability and availability for me. I have found that there is a strong relationship and parallel between my availability to the Lord and my availability to those in my life. And, in relationship with one another, deep sharing and giving is only possible when we are courageous enough to be vulnerable.
When His love fills us, with joy we begin to see others as He sees them –as He sees us– daughters, heirs, made beautiful in the image of God for his glory. And as we learn to see each other the way He sees us, by the grace of God, we will begin to learn to love each other as He loves us–fully, freely, deeply, richly.
All of us need–and all of us can more generously give the love that has been freely given to us through Christ.
“Lord, give us eyes to see each other and ourselves more nearly as thou sees us, to see beneath each face we meet, and beneath even our own faces, thy face.” Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark.
Do you believe it takes courage to be vulnerable? How have you been courageously vulnerable in your own life? Are there areas of your life you feel challenged to let others into?