“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.” – Clive Staples Lewis

Love is the most powerful connection that we know as people. The pursuit of this connection can earmark one’s life and shape the activities of interaction with the world around them. The recognition of love can rapture our hearts into a state of ecstasy, and the rejection of love can spin our mentality into severe depression. Love is something that must always be shared. As R.E. Coleman put it, “Love is always giving itself away. When it is self-contained, it’s not love.” We long to know love in a tangible, life-changing manner. Whether through family, friends, religion, significant others, children or other members of our community; we are all longing for connection to others in a deep and meaningful experience.

In order to experience real love, we must open our hearts to the source of love, and be changed to have that source be a priority in our lives. This is why the reward in love is so life-altering and satisfying: In order to experience it you must risk your entire self. If you reserve a part of yourself, you are not experiencing the full measure of connection. Embracing love in its ultimate embodiment means knowing and interpreting who we are through truth – the truth of the lover and the truth about yourself. Our ability to understand and accept love is based in knowing yourself in light of the lover. To accept one’s self as the object of another’s affection is to liberate the heart from the idea of volition in receiving love. Specifically, in Christ, to know his love for you in an intimate, truthful manner, is to be changed by Him. You become overwhelmed by a longing to be near Him and aware of your need for his interaction within your days. Much like the toddler who loves to play with mommy and daddy, and can’t hold their emotion in when mommy and daddy “need to focus” on something else; the heart longs for the interaction and connection – simply to enjoy the attention and satisfaction of the Father’s soothing and restoring presence. This is why our identity is wrapped so tightly in the love of Christ – it is parallel to his love in that it is something we can only know in knowing Him. Who you are is the object of the divine affection of the Father. He is calling you, bidding you to come and know your inmost self and his fervent love for his creation. When you truly believe and know yourself in light of this truth, your heart burns with the longing to commune with the Father. You release the fear in reservation of what negative ideas you have about who you are and replace them with the power of the love of the crucified Christ. As Bernard Bush writes, “If you love yourself intensely and freely, then your feelings about yourself correspond perfectly to the sentiments of Jesus.”

Love changes from an embodiment of ownership, entitlement and obligation, and returns us to the childlike innocence and freedom of reliance and longing. We return to the pixie-dust centered flight of joy and wonder in the presence of the Father. We rationally can’t explain it, but we magically experience it. This is “the deep, deep, love of Jesus; vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!” And we are the bearers of his affection. We are freed from the obligation of earning his continual favor. His passionate love does not change in our holiest moment or our lowest depravity; because his love is defined in his character, and our identity is held in his love. He has revealed the life-changing truth of his love to our hearts. It is powerful. It is safe. He is abundant in his love for us and he is worthy of unadulterated and fervent pursuit.

Let us embrace the love of the Father. He has revealed our true identity as the object of his omnipotent affection, that we might experience the most powerful connection with the God of the Ages. Let us be vulnerable to Him. Let us hear his calling for our hearts. Listen to the voice of the Father, calling you to find Him, the words of the Lover of our Souls from Song of Solomon: “Come now, my love; my lovely one, come. For the winter is past, the snows are over and gone. The flowers appear in the land and the season of joyful songs has come… Come now, my love; my lovely one, come. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice: For your voice is sweet and your face is so beautiful. Come now, my love; my lovely one, come.”