It’s a strange sensation, being less confused.
I’m so used to questioning everything. Silly things like,
Why do people clap? Clapping is super weird.
Why do people believe the government? The government is composed of individuals who lie.
What is it like to live in a culture where it’s okay not to shower every day?
Or more substantial things like,
If terrorists are defined as groups of people who kill civilians with random violence for the purpose of achieving political goals, do you see where I am going with this?
Is it more edifying to meet with Christians who agree with me about everything, or with all the kinds of Christians who believe all the kinds of things?
Is my basis for making decisions…love or fear?
That last one has caused me a lot of confusion over the past year. It can be really hard to recognize. Sometimes love means doing weird things, or hard things, and those things may not seem loving. Sometimes fear makes it seem like you are loving other people by keeping to yourself because you’re a seriously flawed person and everyone else is happier if you just tell some jokes and walk away slowly.
But in the last few months I think I have started to tell the difference.
I can’t tell the difference with words, because those are sometimes insufficient. (Not exactly an appropriate mantra for a blog named “Saying Things Outloud”, I guess).
You know how when people get really mad, their face gets really red? When it happens to a baby, it’s hilarious, because I think…Why are you so mad, baby? You’re so cute when you’re mad! I want to kiss your mad face!
Sometimes emotions result in physical or non-word reactions.
I think fear is kind of like that for me. I can’t put it into words, exactly. When I make a fear-based decision, my feelings completely shut down. I feel nothing. I feel numb. I make my decision, and then I turn into a robot. I’ve made my decision, and here we are. I deal. One foot in front of the other. Power forward. Do what I gotta do. Go to work. Pay the bills.
But love is like…
It’s like Jesus.
It is maybe becoming clearer. Robot vs. Jesus. Feel like a robot, or feel happy (or feel anything) inside. Yes, that difference is pretty clear.
I started following someone I don’t know on Twitter. He was referenced in a book I read. I know almost nothing about him. He just sounded fascinating – his relationship with his wife and kids, and the world. I don’t know what his exact level of fame is. I haven’t asked Google. (Google knows). But his tweets have a fear-shattering, love-inducing quality about them.
His name is Bob Goff.
He says things like
“Don’t save up love like you’re trying to retire on it; give it away like you’re made of it.”
“God’s love isn’t as complicated as our discussions about It are. Keep it simple – Love everybody. No matter what.”
I know what you’re thinking. He sounds like an embroidered pillow. But it’s true, isn’t it?
I have different levels of love for different people. My family gets the kind of love where nothing they ever say or do will change how much I love them. My close friends get the kind of love where I act like a crazy person around them (the kind of crazy person who gets mad about trivial things, or just stops talking on long car rides for weird emotional reasons that can’t be explained, and then everyone feels uncomfortable), but it’s because I love them and don’t feel afraid. I express love (somewhat) freely to both of those groups of people. It’s really just two different types of family.
But everyone else – well, we’ll wait and see how you treat me. Do you invite me to things, do you get my sense of humor, do you think I’m weird, are you like a mean girl from high school even though you’re 35, are your expectations of me unfair, do you judge me, do you think I’m inferior, are you going to stick around, are you going to be my friend after you get married, do I have to compete with other people for your attention? I don’t have a level of love for those people. I have unending levels of fear.
But love doesn’t work like that.
It’s not something that you save up and divvy out according to who shows they love you first. It’s not a poker game where you are constantly bluffing and don’t show your hand until the most advantageous moment. (I know nothing about poker, but that works, right?)
Love is nothing if it’s not lavished on other people.
So I’m going to give it a whirl. I am going to try to love even though it might weird people out, even though my heart might be (or certainly will be) destroyed.
But seriously, why do people clap?