Imagine sending a fighter into the ring without a coach. There is no one in the audience rooting for them. They are completely alone. How will their morale survive the jeering? Say, somehow, they find the courage and strength to defeat their opponent. Nobody is waiting on the other side to embrace them. No one will share in their victory.
People crave community: we need connection and encouragement like we need water. I believe the core longing of our hearts is to be known; to be fully seen - yet valued and loved. We want to be heard. We want to belong. We want to find those rare people whose heart resonates with our own.
When you find these people, they become a home. They are friends who are bonded over time - not by blood - but by choice. And I suppose that choice is what scares us the most.
So often I find that relationships are ruled by a fear of rejection. We are terrified that over time those we care for deeply will grow weary of us. We are afraid that we will lose our fascination. We fear loss, or that the people we love most will be taken from us. We fear isolation - that we will live like a shadow - that we will go unnoticed. Unneeded.
If I am honest, I have experienced these fears far too often, and the ways I’ve responded have hardly been helpful. I spent months building walls to protect myself from being used; walls to keep myself from freely trusting anyone; walls to hide my heart and soul, and guard against any opportunity for betrayal. I have walls for every insecurity and doubt. I have walls that force people away, and walls that keep people from getting close at all. I’ve let myself be ruled by the fear that people are dangerous - that they will always hurt me - that they should never be allowed too close.
But God has a way of breaking down walls.
C.S. Lewis said once: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
God sees us for who we are to our very core, and still, he values us. We should want to see others in the eyes of such love. If you have a moment, read 1 John 4:7-21. John talks about coming “to know and believe the love that God has for us”. In love, I think we need to put our faith and trust in the right place. God is the only one who will never let us down, and it’s that overwhelming security we find in him that allows us to finally love others unconditionally.
If we have truly come to know and believe in the love that God has for us, then maybe we can begin allowing ourselves to believe in the love we have for others also. I think we should listen not only with our ears, but also with the Spirit. We should stop admiring so many people secretly without ever saying a word.
And when the fear begins - “They think I’m annoying; They think I’m flirting; They don’t care how I feel…” - do not let it rule your willingness to love.
I pray that courage and affection would revolutionize the Church. Invest time in people, and when you are ready (or maybe when you’re not), invest your heart. Trust the affection of God, and share yourself - not just the surface things - but the passions, the fears, the dreams and quirks. Ask people about their journey with God. Ask them about their highs and lows. Let people know that they matter. Let’s choose to choose each other. Let’s prize each other the same way God lowered Himself to call us His own.