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Risk and Love

I was a foolish, foolish boy. Miska and I had been dating plenty long to be at the point where a fellow needs to put up or shut up. Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I was in the grip of a selfish line of thinking: "There are billions of women in this world, and I've only met a couple thousand. Who's to say I won't someday, somewhere, meet someone better for me…?"

Who's to say… as if love comes announced from some external authority. Someone better… as if love takes shape by probability calculations.

Of course, I was to say. Love does not arrive at that final moment when, having all possible options closed and the edict unequivocally delivered, we finally limp to the altar and declare, after rummaging through every single alley, yes – you. Love leads the way. Love charges in. Love names the truth and then leaps after it. Love comes as a tender surprise, but then it asks us to surrender our mind, body and soul. Love knows nothing of the penchant for playing the numbers and hedging our bets. Love doesn't tamp down the danger; love sets the fire.

But my love hesitated because of fear. Fear of what I didn't know. Fear that I might be wrong. Fear of what I might discover later. Fear that new information or experiences might alter the truth I perceived. That fear, rational as it may have been, kept me from loving the one woman right in front of me, this mysterious, exquisite woman. I was a boy who had yet to become a man. I had yet to give myself to the glorious terror of love.

Love is the center of the universe. God's love for the world, God's love revealed in Jesus Christ. To be loved (and to love in return) requires risk. We hear God's call in Jesus; and we say yes – or we don't. Love will wait for us. Love will whisper to us and, at times, ravage us. However, love – if we'll have it – requires that we lay our cards on the table. Love will require that we leave behind our adolescent machinations and step into mature love, love that lays down self-protection and walks into the beauty and joy that only comes along the way, not before. There will always be other possibilities, a thousand reasons not to love. We might be wrong, we might. But God, in love, invites us to come and see. To take the risk and come and see.

In my young years, I held a naive conviction that I would marry someone I couldn't possibly live without. Now, I don't know what that even means. However, that posture selfishly offered me a kind of perceived safety that comes from absolutist certainty. It would require nothing of me other than the ability to see the obvious. It was a numbskull's vision of love. I discovered, however, that the true question was not can I live without Miska?, but do I want to live without Miska? That second question swelled with danger, but the answer I could not contain was no, god help me, no. And with that, I embraced the peril of love. And I became a man.

Personal knowledge is impossible without risk; it cannot begin without an act of trust, and trust can be betrayed. We are here facing a fundamental decision in which we have to risk everything we have. There are no insurance policies available. {Lesslie Newbigen}

6 thoughts on “Risk and Love

  1. So this post could have been titled ‘Winn Loves’?

    Thanks, man…the risk is the thing.

    1. Indeed, it could have. Reading Lesslie this afternoon, he mused on how different it would have been if our buddy Descartes had, instead of I think, therefore I am, said, I love, therefore I am. Risk is the thing. Love is the thing.

  2. Great thoughts, Winn. I was even having a conversation with some students today about how, ultimately, my decision to pursue Missy was just that: a decision. There is something about the exclusivity that real love requires. Ultimately, choosing to love is admitting that you don’t give a damn about the other options because you will chose the beauty in front of you and commit until your dying day. I’m glad you chose Miska. She’s good for you and you’re good for her.

    1. Amen to every stitch of that. I feel the same about you and Missy.

  3. This might be my favorite post you’ve ever written.

    1. Mighty kind of you, Andy.

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