The morning was dense with fog—the kind of fog so thick you can taste it when you breathe. Even stepping off the porch would be an act of faith. I would be lost between the car and the door. Rather than go into the unknown—well, to the mail box—I went back to my rooms.
This week a lot of energy has been spent trying to focus through a fog. I have found myself unwilling to step off the platform of undeserving of love and must choose either to remain as I am or fall into the unknown.
The experience of being unloved and rejected is, obviously, painful. For some it began as children. As adults it can come from within a marriage, or being shunned by individuals that dislike who we aren’t—not necessarily who we are.
No matter how justified the wariness is, once a pattern of self preservation is set it is hard to move beyond the security of denial. It is especially challenging as a Christian to reconcile this—the absence and denial of being loved—with Holy Love. We want to know the intimacy of God and for one reason or another we lack the emotional resources to claim it.
I came across this comment in Magnificat (V. 16, No. 8, P. 164) and felt a waggling finger of shame:
This is the phenomenon of impenetrability: the refusal to let ourselves be struck even by the most beautiful thing that is put before us. We prefer instead to let ourselves remain all closed—we do not let our “I” be touched by anything, even the “You” of God.
This phenomenon of impenetrability is the denial of fully receiving God’s love because we are protecting ourselves from connection with human love.
Many of us have experienced the cutting edges of love and rage, desire and apathy, genuinely cared for or groomed for abuse. We lack the carefree notion of affection and are cautious, resistive, and watchful.
If for all of our life we have found seeking love to be unfulfilling, and even dangerous, then its beauty is lost to us, though its value is still appreciated. The fullness of love is refused on the grounds of survival. The pain of being repeatedly unwanted, brings on a protectiveness of the heart—not necessarily its hardening.
Now, in learning to love God, we often begin with a sense of working towards it. We choose to be virtuous because that is what Our Lord desires from us. We discover the gifts of the Spirit and become active in exemplifying them.
I imagine this to also be true when people marry; initial behaviors of practicing what a good marriage should look like. But then there is a transition. The spouse who once did this or that because it should be so, transitions into actively doing something because it pleases the other. Love creates movement from conscious effort to innate response.
It is in the innate loving that my effort of maintaining impenetrability breaks down. I am able to express love, and can receive it from others to a level of tolerable—which translates as keeping a safe distance. I prefer detachment. My vision is clearer the wider the scope.
But this week I have found my greatest sin: my refusal to let myself be struck by the fullness of love. Impenetrability.
I am the person at the wedding feast in Matthew 22:11-12, eager to attend and excited to be there, but am not clothed in the proper garment. I know what the proper attire is—clothed in love—and know what is expected for the momentous occasion of my death. My own fear of the beauty of wearing such a garment denies me the full joy in the final celebration.
It all falls back to self preservation. The fear of…well most every human encounter offering even the slightest fragrance of intimacy. I like people and their company; I fall short loving them as freely as I love Christ.
It is here that I realize my behaving in a manner to please our Lord, which is not a bad thing. But now I have entered into the space, as most spouses eventually do, of behaving out of love and not responsibility or need.
A whole new road awaits—one where I must travel fearlessly, though not recklessly, among the robbers, praying the fog will lift.