“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to 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.” ~ C.S. Lewis
First of all, let me say that this is a beautiful quote. I stumbled across it the other day, and it really made me stop and think. And I agree with it. I do. At least, I agree with it on one hand. But on the other hand, I struggle with it. Not in concept but in connotation.
To me, this is kind of a dreary take on love. It’s true. Yes, it’s very true. And Love is a very serious thing. It’s very sobering. And it’s a huge responsibility. And it’s an action. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Check to all of the above. But love and joy go hand in hand. Granted, joy doesn’t always mean you’ll be happy, but even in the direst circumstances the truly joyful should be able to remain joyful. It’s all about perspective.
And that’s the way I feel about love.
Love takes perspective. If you don’t have perspective on love, you’ll think either everyone loves you or everyone hates you. You’ll see the world through rose-colored glasses or you’ll live your life in the gray shades of the abandoned.
Situation: Jane and Jill disagree on some topic (it doesn’t matter what it is)
Perspective 1: Jane knows Jill loves her 100%, and Jill knows Jane loves her 100%, and when they disagree, neither of them know how to handle it and their friendship falls apart.
Perspective 2: Jane thinks everyone hates her, and Jill thinks everyone hates her, and even though they’re friends, they’ve always been too scared to really share anything with each other because they assume they hate each other no matter how much each of them denies it. So not only do they not know when they disagree with each other, they never actually build their friendship, and they sink deeper into depression daily.
Perspective 3: Jane loves Jill, and Jill loves Jane, but they both realize the neither of them are perfect. So when they disagree (which happens a lot), they have faith in their friendship, that it will withstand the small bumps of life, and love each other enough to work through what they disagree on, and their friendship turns out deeper and stronger than it was before they disagreed.
It looks simple in writing but in practice it’s harder. And in a relationship that’s more like Jack and Jill (as opposed to Jane and Jill) it gets infinitely more complicated, but the same rules still apply.
Nobody’s perfect. And that means that no love is perfect either. But just because someone disappoints you doesn’t mean they love you less. And conversely just because someone does something nice for you doesn’t mean they love you more.
Absolute love is beyond the realm of human imagination.
And I think that’s where some of our trouble begins: we expect absolute love from each other. But people aren’t absolute. And trying to grasp the things that are absolute is impossible. The finite trying to comprehend the infinite is a wasted effort.
We can only do the best we can.
So let’s look at Mr. Lewis’s statement again. Basically he’s saying that if you don’t want to get hurt, don’t love anyone. Which is true. And he’s also saying that if you lock your heart away, you’ll turn into a big meany. Which is also true. I agree 100% with his entire statement. But I still hold that this is a far too stiff-upper-lip, defeatist mentality opinion of love to leave it at that.
Love is never defeatist. Love is victorious. And instead of focusing on how much Love hurts (which it does), focus on the Joy you receive from it. Maybe it’s not popular to be unswooning and steady in love. Maybe it’s not perceived as romantic to cry for a little while but then get on with your life. Maybe you’ll be thought of as cold-hearted if you are able to manage your emotions to the point where you can function in life when your relationship circumstances are less than perfect.
But that is victorious love, the kind of love Westley spoke of in The Princess Bride: “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
And while I should probably be shot for using a quote from The Princess Bride to respond to a quote by the legendary C.S. Lewis, I still feel that they are relevant. Because you can look at Love either as a challenge in an opportunity or an opportunity in a challenge. But that choice is up to you.