It’s not a secret: I have been doubting, squinting, cocking my head at all the things I thought I knew. I have been wrestling with… whatever the hell we wrestle with in existential crises – which is the question here, this time: it is what, not why, nor how. What.
I have doubted God’s kindness. I’ve doubted God’s provision, God’s fairness, God’s predisposition. I’ve doubted God’s intentions, God’s story, God’s plan. And now I have doubted God’s being as I’ve always understood it. But do you know what I never stopped believing in? What I haven’t doubted (yet) for even one second?
I believe in Love. I believe it matters how we treat each other, that the time we spend together is important. I believe we affect everything around us and that when we lean into deference and kindness and patience and humor and self-sacrifice we actually make the world a better place. In ways that count. And that making the world a better place is a noble vocation – that we are called by Love and that when we answer there is harmony out of discord.
And maybe it’s our corporeal fist pump: we rally round and chant that we matter, raise banners of Good even while the world burns up around us and we watch the embers fall in wonder. Let’s be real about it: we are scared shitless here. We are in the dark looking for something to grab onto. We are insecure and we do stupid, stupid things. But we love. We love hard and brave; it is a hallmark of Humanhood that we care about each other beyond natural logic. We put our children and our mates before ourselves and you can say it’s because the species requires it; yeah, it does. Love is written into our DNA. It is essential for our survival. We do foolish things for the sake of our friends, we reach out and hold hands with strangers through way-too-vulnerable blog posts. We connect and encourage and offer solidarity. Because we need to. Because Love is a need.
We hurt each other for it, we lay down our lives for it. Love is the desire down in your gut for your children to be better people than you are – when you find yourself apologizing to a three year old for being an asshole even though you could have gotten away with it and he probably would have forgotten it anyway. It’s gritting your teeth to grab your wife’s hand when she’s become your enemy and you can still feel betrayal dripping down your back. It’s sending along an anonymous gift so that a young mother you’ll never meet gets a spot of relief you wish you’d been given.
It’s the thing I am so afraid of losing or not having that I hide it and wring it and end up looking down at empty hands – Love doesn’t do selfish, doesn’t put up with being cornered. It requires courage and it must be shared. So I have no choice but to hold these hands out and ask a person who might say no if I can have some of his. Which is terrifying. But Love doesn’t mind the fear – Love insists on everyone’s value: on theirs and on mine even when we’re being jerks or narcissists.
And I am without excuse. As my beautiful friend Jessica says with such concise artistry, I have been loved well and I know how to love. The world is not always good – parts of it are downright evil – but I have everything I need to see the silver linings thanks to the way I learned Love from my mother and father, my family, my friends. My mom has given me an almost annoying ability to see glitter in dust. That is hard to avoid and even when I do – because I’m tired or angry and I don’t really want to deal with Hope and Optimism at the moment – it waits and chimes in when I’m done throwing my fit. Love is stubborn – more stubborn than me and that is saying something.
Love cheers and hoots and dances when Good wins out – and Love makes sure that Good wins out. It gathers stunning bouquets for funerals and turns rotting fruit into rosy cheeked laughter between girlfriends over a despicable game of cards.
So maybe that’s my “what.” I don’t know if I believe in the God I grew up with – or if I could pin down what that was anyway. But I believe that Love compels me. Love holds me when I can’t stand, it cries with me, it tells me I’m going to be okay when I can hear it. Love takes my angry protests and soaks up all the cursing I can muster against the things nobody gets to opt out of. Love hides me when I’m tired and gives me gulps of bold when I need to speak up. Love doesn’t need me to have a system or a plan or an answer, it just needs me to show up.
So maybe I haven’t doubted God’s existence. Because “God is Love” rings truer now than it ever has. If it’s personal, if it’s conscious, if it’s the friend I have always known, I’m not sure and that’s okay. I’m confident I’ll be sure of it when I’m supposed to be – and maybe only for that moment – because Love can handle my unknowing while I learn to recognize it in clothes I never saw it wear before. Love is true and Love is good and Love is worth believing in.