Love and fear appear to be the primordial motivators in our lives. No other primary orientation seems to underpin our way of being-in-the-world than these two outlooks.
Love and fear present with a choice, time and time again. Will I act in the situation that I’m in based on love, or on fear? This, it seems to me, is one of the basic questions that will determine so much of the way that we live.
This is not to say that we discard one for the other; that a loving person will cease to fear or that a fearful person is incapable of love. Instead, a person who has chosen love will always define fear in terms of love. They will ask questions like, “How is it that fear keeps me from loving?” and “What is it that my fear is trying to communicate to me?”
The person who chooses fear, on the other hand, similarly defines love in terms of fear. The recipients of our love are now objects to protect at all costs, for losing them would be unbearable. This also makes loving much more difficult–and in many cases impossible–simply because the threat of loss and pain wrapped up in love are so great.
I believe that most of us aspire to love, yet fall into fear all the same as our primary standpoint. We allow our love to be calculated, doled out in reserved measures, because we’re afraid that we might not have enough. And yet, as John Caputo is fond of saying, “The only measure of love is love without measure.”
Love is painful as well as beautiful, and it takes people made of some serious stuff to recklessly give it away, to give without giving pause to wonder if they have enough. And it is the impossibility of living this type of love that points us, in fear and trembling, into the arms of Christ, who embodied more perfectly than any other person the beautiful insanity of love.