The quote lead me to wonder which side of the coin is better: being loved deeply, or deeply loving another. There’s no question that the ideal scenario is one in which both things happen simultaneously. Certainly, deeply reciprocated love must feel the best. Through my faith, I know that is true.
But what if we had to make a choice? What if we could pick only one? Do you choose to love deeply? Or do you choose to be deeply loved?
The scenario, to me, is sort of like a Christmas present. As I’ve gotten older, my favorite part of the holidays lies not in the presents I receive. Rather, my joy lies in the giving. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Despite the fact that gift giving involves some level of risk (Will it fit? Will she like it? Is it the right color?), my heart swells with a certain happiness when I hand someone a neatly wrapped package. Imagine offering your heart to others in the same way.
Of course I am not ignorant of the risk involved in loving others. In fact, I’ve been told more than once that I love too freely; that I give too much of myself to those who don’t deserve it. My willingness to do so is a choice. I know that an open heart is a vulnerable heart. But I would rather drown in courage than flounder in loneliness. I also believe that in loving others, I come to love myself. And if my mother ever taught me anything, it was that no one else will ever love me if I don’t love myself first (even if on some days that is harder to do than on others).
And so as I think about the question I posed about loving vs. being loved, the choice for me is an easy one. I will love. And I will do it with passion and intensity and freedom. I don’t know how to do it half-way. I don’t care to exercise caution. And I won’t waste time building emotional walls that make it hard for others to love me back. I will just love…and love deeply.
Theologian William Shedd is quoted as saying, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” Take your ship out for a sail; even have the courage to venture into deep water. When you do, I bet you find all the strength you need for quite an adventure!