He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Monday, February 22, 2016

Love it to Death: The Rock of Love

In Christian circles, God is sometimes referred to as not only our salvation, but also our Rock.  The image of the rock invokes stability, firmness, and strength.  It suggests that we can trust God to stand with us forever, that we can build our lives on Him because He is a sure foundation.  This image is often used to explain to us that we should feel perpetually secure in God's hands as we journey through life.  And so, we think, we should.

But we often don't.  This feeling of perpetual security is not something we generally have.  We often feel insecure, especially when our survival is threatened, when our loved ones are suffering, when our sense of our own talent and power is laid to waste by failure to reach a goal, and sometimes even when we face minor inconveniences.

If our feeling of security is only fleeting, then is God really the Rock?  Does God really love us if he allows us to experience all these things which prompt feelings of insecurity, of instability, of uncertainty?  Don't we know from our feelings that we are not secure, that we are unstable, that our future is uncertain?

I would suggest that we do in fact know that we are insecure, but that this doesn't tell us what we usually intuitively believe that it tells us.  Our feelings only tell us accurate information about ourselves, about whether we are secure or insecure in a particular set of circumstances, about whether we are fearful or confident in the face of a distinct challenge.  Our feelings don't tell us unerringly about the intentions of other people, or about their feelings toward us and others, or truths about how the world really is.

That said, what little information is does provide to us is very important information.  It tells us whether or not we are secure enough to trust God when our survival is threatened, when our loved ones are suffering, when our sense of our own talent and power is laid to waste by failure to reach a goal, and sometimes even when we face minor inconveniences.  This is information we need in order to grow and change so that we can trust God as our Rock, so that we can learn to let our fears go and cling to Him.

It is so often our fears, our insecurities about who we are and those we love, that we truly cling to in many moments throughout our daily lives.  And while we cling to our insecurities, we often don't want to let them go because we believe that those insecurities are part of who we are.  We often believe that acting in accord with our feelings, be they feelings of insecurity or security, is the way to be authentic, that living in line with our feelings is the only way to be genuine.

We have two ways to be authentic in this sense: we can change our behavior to match our existing insecurities and securities, or we can change our insecurities and securities to match some standard external to ourselves, following a moral compass which points unerringly in a certain direction, unlike our feelings which point in many directions and are hardly unerring.  For the Christian, this moral compass is the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is Love; by the power of Love we can gradually be transformed and order our behaviors to God's will.

This process of theosis is a gift of the Rock, the God who saves.  And it is He who is Love and Rock who can be both the rock which is a sure foundation for our lives and also the rock against which we shatter our insecurities.  In embracing Christ, we embrace a love which spells death to the ego, the ego which is the seat of our insecurities, ever protecting us from growing in love by building walls of addiction to small pleasures.

These walls allow us to feel secure, but these walls of addiction are also shattered by the Rock of Love when we turn to Him in repentance and return the love He has shown us.  Love will not let any wall stand between Him and the beloved who seeks His love.  And we who love will happily shatter our insecurities on the Rock for the sake of our love.

So many of us gladly gradually give up our insecurities for the sake of our children, our spouses, or our parents because the relationship is more valuable to us that our insecurity, because our love is far stronger than our attachments to the transient pleasures of the ego.  And in the same way, we who love God gradually give up our insecurities because His love is so precious to us that the world is not enough, so beloved that we gladly give up the cares of this world for an eternity with Him.

When our love grows stronger than our insecurity, we begin to step closer to the Rock, placing our feet ever nearer the firm foundation and walking away from the weak and unstable ground upon which we make our journey to the Father's embrace.  When we reach out in love and because of our love to others rather than lashing out from our insecurities to protect ourselves, we are gradually transformed, loving to death our insecurities one act of love at a time.

When our love participates in the divine love of the One who loved us unto death, uniting our sufferings to His for the sake of Love, then just as we broke down the walls between us and those we love by the strength of our love, so too Christ will break down the walls between us and the divine family, welcoming us into the the heavenly home which stands firm on the Rock of Love.

No comments:

Post a Comment