Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love With a Focus

"For love is not a river, confined between two banks.
Its essence is to overflow.”
If you follow Mona’s Musings on Facebook, you know the daily ‘Hint of Romance’ often comes from the amazing little book quoted above. It is full of pure inspiration, by which I mean the author clearly wrote the book by the Spirit. Instead of approaching his subject from a “how-to” perspective, this treatise explores the “why”s of marriage -- making the most remarkable case for its Christian purposes.

The chapter I am currently digesting—for it so rich you have to eat it a few bites at a time, like a heavy piece of cheesecake – is called “Love With a Focus”. An illustration of Jesus looking solely into the eyes of ONE child on our Sunday ward bulletin today, perfectly illustrated this theme.

Here is the concept, as beautifully articulated in “The Mystery of Marriage”:

“Why was it, in the great history of salvation, that the Lord Himself chose to concentrate His efforts on the special covenanted love of one chosen people, declaring to them that “you of all nations shall be my very own” (Exodus 19:5)? Was it because God had only enough love to spare for one small group of people? Far from it!

"Rather, it was because love is only love when it is particular, and when the person receiving it is the object of special extremities of attention.

"Even Jesus hesitated to help a Canaanite woman, saying: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). But it was precisely because of His ministry was to a select group that it became capable of spilling over into the whole world. There was nothing vague or hazily defined about Jesus’ love. It was not the sort of mushy, universalist sentiment that claims in theory to love everyone but in practice loves no one. No, Jesus’ love had a practical focus, and for that very reason it was able to overflow to all those outside that immediate focus.

"It was a focus trained not only on the people of Israel but more especially on one small ragged band of those people, and indeed even on one particular person within that small group, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Mason goes on to call this the Lord’s “strategy of concentrated love” which provides a pattern for married couples, who make vows to focus on one special person. This, he claims, “is intended to fill us up to the brim with love, to train us in the very depths of love and so to free us to have more love for others then ever before.”

This idea really makes sense with his next point: “For it is not really the love in a home that eats up time and energy but rather the lack of love. That is what really wreaks havoc in the in our married life, ensnaring us in never-ending self-analysis and robbing us of the energy to love others.”

Several months ago, at my ‘Romance’ Musings, I penned a variation of this idea after exploring Jerusalem in all its diversity: “The security one feels from a solid marriage gives the heart space to love others — lots of others.”

It just so happens that I needed to be reminded of this principle -- the expansive power that comes from “love with a focus” -- this weekend, as I took, what was for me, a major plunge: diving headfirst into the world called “Facebook”. For a very long time, and at the frustration of friends and family, I avoided creating a “personal” page, fearing burial in an avalanche of relationships. Knowing well my mortality and therefore, limitations, I knew I could not personally take care of everyone who called me “friend”.

Of course, came the dawn (and the decision to move forward) when I comprehended that the real function of social networking is to connect: that is, to draw lines, not thick ropes, between individuals; to serve as a touchstone, not a foundation; for it is not possible to forge in mass the same kind of relationships we are called on to cultivate with the people closest (literally) to us. Nor should we try. Our husbands, our wives, our children and grandchildren, by virtue of vows, covenants, and blood deserve unquestionable priority over all other ties.

As Mason puts it: “It is the one person who wins over the many, the humble cause of the home that prevails over every other worthy cause in the world.”

I must admit though, it is comforting to the piece of me that wants to “save the world” on some grand scale, that, in fact, giving preeminence to my honey and my kiddos, indulging them with all my love, time and attention -- especially my honey -- will bring me closer to the ideal of loving and inspiring the rest of mankind than any other pursuit: hence, my tardiness in getting this Musing scratched out today and neglecting the sweet people who are waiting to be Facebook friends...

I’ve been making a special Sunday dinner for my special everyday family.


Sara Lyn said...

This makes a lot of sense to me. When I'm too tired to take care of my husband from doing too many other things, I don't have energy to love anybody else, either. I like this principle. I'll have to pay more attention!

Bri... only she said...

LOVE this post! It is so true that when we learn to love one person infinitely our love for others only expands and grows! I think it's because you learn what it really means to love a person no matter what, and then you're a more forgiving and loving person all around. Which also explains why long term committed marriages are correlated with happiness! :)

Valerie said...

Sure glad I'm not popular like you. :) I love that last paragraph and how much you love your family and everyone.