Dr. Marilyn Elliott has been a boss, mentor, colleague, and friend of mine these last number of years. She has lived a life of public speaking and writing and cultivating secret acts of love. You can read her rich rich posts here at her blog. It is a treat to have her post at TAL!
The Will to Love.
Un-love looks Big. Unlove is a mean pit-bull owned by terrorists, racists, angry drunks, aggressive businessmen and arrogant leaders. Un-love is Big. It dominates the news. Its presence is heralded by sirens and flashing lights. And because un-love is big we sometimes imagine that unlove is the greatest power. I have seen though, that love is everywhere – even where un-love crashes in. The problem is that love is usually small. Love is eye to eye. Love is hand to hand. Love is a shared sandwich, a helping hand, a hug. Love is small like ants are small. Small but if you ever try to get rid of them, good luck.
The people I see want to love. The people I meet and travel beside carry inside them a longing to express love. This longing, or willingness to love, might need to be prodded by need or pity or emergency, but it is there. When this will to love begins to practice love, it becomes a force on its own sending out love without prompting – loving even the unlovely. A man or woman loving like this is safe and winsome.
There is another strange thing I see. People with a will to love sometimes resist receiving love. They will not open their hands and lives to the love given by others. Maybe they do not believe themselves worthy of love, or maybe they like to be the strong one without needs who stoops to help others. To have a will to love without a will to BE loved is like living with half a heart. Those who desire to love this person can become deeply confused. What seems to be the will to love begins to look more like the will to be in control, or the will to be at the top. Receiving love is a humble human task. I have seen that to be human, every person must learn to willingly receive what they have not earned.
The flow of outgoing acts of love and humble receptivity of love is like breathing oxygen. And then the resuscitation of someone else becomes possible. All of this is ours to choose and cultivate through our will to love and will to be loved. Remember, our character is what we continuously do.