Sunday, July 13, 2014

Less Of A Theory, More of A Love Affair

Believing in anything is kind of strange.  As the human race, we pride ourselves on being reasonable.  We are the smartest creatures we know of.  And we know a lot.  We've proved (or at least made educated guesses about) almost everything we need in order to explain the world around us.  We've established incredible scientific and psychological theories. I think in our world today, and especially as a college student in academia, the mind is idolized.  Many forces fight to occupy our thoughts, and then we think to figure out which ones are important.  To "take something on faith" is a risky business which is to be avoided when possible.  And we get told that our hearts are really dumb sometimes and that love is blind, so we try to rule everything via the brain. 

So...what is the heart doing there? Why do we need it? Why do we feel things, and why are we unhappy when we don't feel, when we experience emptiness or indifference?
We have both a head and a heart, and we try so hard to separate them, to cling to our reasoning. That can protect us from making dumb, overly emotional decisions, but it can also protect us from making changes, from challenging ourselves, from becoming vulnerable.  I think the over-emphasis on understanding everything empirically is a form of fear.  As valuable as it is when used correctly, the brain can justify anything if it tries hard enough. But the the deepest movements of the heart can't be manufactured.  At one level at least, we can't lie to ourselves.  We can use distractions to evade the heart's stirrings, but they never go away completely.  Instead, we get used to being unsatisfied.  We accept that these feelings are going to surface on our bad days and don't bother to deal with them when they do.  We grow comfortable enough living halfheartedly that we rarely remember: something is missing and we aren't fully happy.

Guys! Since when was comfort better than happiness? How did we get to the point where nobody dares to get out and really live, really experience freedom? I think in order to do that, we need to restore balance and start accepting that we are more than a brain. 

Have you ever noticed that most internet debates are fruitless?  People either get overly emotional and start rants and personal attacks, or they go all brainiac and boring on you and list a bunch of impeccable (not really) but yawn-worthy facts and reasons.  Really, any controversial topic gets ugly when strangers are discussing it together.  But, if you have the same conversation with a close friend, even if you disagree, the results are much better. (*raises hand sheepishly* I speak from experience...)  Anyway, I think there's some significance to that.  Love is more powerful than knowledge.  People want you to care more than they want you to convince.  People with passion are more attractive than people with conviction. 
Saint Paul sums it up better than I do in 1 Corinthians chapter 13:
"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophesy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing."

It's just that it's counter-intuitive because we think "knowledge" and we think of Einstein and diplomas and success...but think "love" and "the heart" and instantly the image we get is rainbows, kittens, and the whiny, sappy, moody people on Facebook and...

...We think putting love before knowledge will turn us in to that ignorant person that nobody respects.

But real love is not ignorant.  Seriously.  If you want to have a terrible love life, try ignoring the facts and cling to your own idealized, distorted version of the person you love--which isn't really love at all.  No, to love someone you have to see them as they are.  At that deep level where your heart won't leave you alone, love and truth are inseparable.  And honestly, Saint Paul's description of love sounds like the opposite of those annoying people on Facebook:
"It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
Not exactly the kind of love you can roll your eyes at.  In fact, if I met anyone who could love like that, the amount of respect and admiration I'd have for them would be immense. You guys, I want to be like that.  I want to be somebody whose love is so strong, so pure of ulterior motives, that it never fails. That's why my heart won't leave me alone-- it's longing to give and receive the same kind of love that brought it into existence in the first place.  And as much as I like my brain, I won't let it stand in the way when it comes down to it. 

We are taught to be desperate for proof in order to believe anything.  But ultimately, we're more desperate for love. So let love win. You don't have to understand everything to believe.  If your heart is empty and you know you need faith, then I dare you to go for it.  God has not disappointed me yet and he doesn't play favorites, so He will do His part to help you.  I'm sure of it.  I still don't have my faith figured out completely.  It was a relief to me when I realized I don't have to "get it" all in order to be good enough for my Church. God isn't going to get mad if I ask questions as I go along.  I'm constantly pursuing a deeper faith by learning more.  But ultimately, my belief is based on love.  It's a desire in my heart for something I can't get anywhere else.  It's realizing God is the source of my purpose, fulfillment, and joy.  Maybe that doesn't make perfect sense yet...but it works.  It makes me happy and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

So, from G.K. Chesterton and I: "Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair." Because that's the only kind of religion worth having. 

~Sarah 


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