C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves: “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.”
My heart was hidden quite deep under the ground. I numbed myself out by keeping busy producing things: crocheting baby blankets, quilting, canning jams and jellies, knitting, writing letters to pen pals around the world. When was this? When I was a grandma? No, I was in junior high and high school. I lived with my family out on a 200-acre farm where we were quite self-sufficient. We grew animals that we butchered, we grew vegetables and fruit, we collected firewood to heat the house and rainwater in a cistern to use for our water.
Being self-sufficient is a useful thing, but if it is rooted in fear of people, it is unhealthy. After I moved out of state for college, my tendency toward self-sufficiency started breaking as I let people come in closer. I had a lot to learn about love.
I had seen some love, but this vulnerable kind that C.S. Lewis describes was new to me. Love that let itself get hurt? Love that laid down its life for others? Was what I thought had been love all along really been love? How do I learn to be vulnerable? You learn to be vulnerable by learning how to trust people more and by just doing it.
A mixture of people’s love and God’s love softened the ground around my heart, then eventually the box was pulled out, then God’s love softened away the rust around the lock, unlocked my heart. In just the last year I’ve been able to open my heart in deeper ways than I ever had before.
It’s a process to soften a heart. It hurts. Sometimes you might scream it hurts so much, but let me tell you, now that my heart is out and open, the joy I feel from being loved is SO worth the pain of working through the issues that hardened and hid your heart.
Giving and receiving love is so beautiful. Loving is worth the risk.