Love is a gift both amazing and precious
Rabbi Mark Gellman, God Squad
Rabbi Marc Gellman was recently questioned regarding the definition of “love”. Probably the recent Valentine’s Day contributed to evoking the question at this particular time. He related that his favorite definition of love is borrowed from D. H. Lawrence who called love as “having the courage of your tenderness.” Is that not a great definition? Love invites one to possess or have the courage to manifest one’s tenderness or sensitivity to another.
Rabbi Gellman further stated that a connection exist between love and faith. Faith expands one’s experience of love by teaching the person to love God. Loving God is a big order but it allows us to see the universal power of love as we begin to humanize others while simultaneously seeing others’ potential through the love of God. By humanizing others we can embrace others and ourselves with a more forgiving heart. The love of God or loving God expands the capacity to love others and ourselves. The Books of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Leviticus (Leviticus 19:18) recognizes this theme of spiritual growth by commanding us to love God and in doing so we can utilize that love to help us love our neighbors and strangers in our midst. Jesus Christ knew these foundational Jewish teachings and advocated they are the heart of Christian ethics. Matthew 22:35-40: Jesus said unto him, you shall love the Lord your God with all heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (notice love others as you love yourself). On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets. Loving oneself occurs as one experiences recovery for persons with a history of chemical dependence. The shame and guilt is impossible to by pass without recovery and love.
Rabbi Gellman further added that he did not want to ruin anyone’s Valentine Day but he felt compelled to move beyond dark chocolate to the dark gift of love, which is the pain we feel when those we love die. Love makes us exquisitely vulnerable to loss. Rabbi Gellman quotes C.S. Lewis, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully with hobbies and 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, and irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations (worries, alarms, trepidations) of love is Hell.” (From “The Four Loves”)
When counseling mourners broken by grief, one can ask if they would trade their present pain for never having loved that dearly departed, nobody has ever said they would take the deal. Love is a courageous choice to become eventually wounded. Rabbi Gellman spoke about a letter from a paraplegic friend, Will Jenks. Mr. Jenks expressed the following, “I think it is likely I am not the most seriously wounded among us, only the most conspicuously bandaged. Sooner or later, every one of us will be made to feel flawed, inadequate, and powerless. The solution is to let your self be loved. Not pitied, not indulged or pampered, but loved. It is sometimes a matter of asking others, even those we have no claim on, to carry part of the load, to make room in their plans for our needs. It is sometimes a matter of not asking, but waiting and trusting others to sense our wants; it is always a matter of expecting to be loved. And the time to begin is now. It will put us in touch with the truth about ourselves and about every other human being. We are precarious, we are mortal, but we are loved.”
Is not that the great gift of love? Despite the inadequacies, flaws, and weaknesses someone chooses to join us and/or we choose to join someone in the journey of life through the avenue and risk of love. Love is the power waiting for the soul incarcerated by doubts, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and/or addiction. One witnesses that power in 12 step meetings and at Woodlake Addiction Recovery Center as the extension of hope and commitment and concern is expressed. Recovery is about being able to love oneself again. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism/addiction, Woodlake Addiction Recovery Center would like to join you in the journey of recovery and discovery of your genuine self apart from that bondage.
On a personal note, I would like to wish Lydia well in her new journey of love that she began a few weekends ago in getting married. May the revelations of the heart that occur through love be a continuing inspiration and release to a greater life that can only be lived or encountered by the courageous and rewards of selflessness….
Thomas Estis, PhD, NCC, LPC, LPC-S, LMFT, LMFT-BAS, LAC