There are challenges in this life that we all must face. For me, and for many others, death is one of those challenges. It is a harsh reality of life, something that we all must face: we cannot live forever. And truthfully, the fear that this brings can be crippling. We worry for ourselves and for the uncertainty in the life that will come after death. We worry about losing those we love, afraid to face the world without them. We are afraid, and this fear can control our lives and our actions.
When I was younger, we had a dog named Kristy. She was a spunky and wild pup, full of personality and energy. She was playful and smart, and she grew to be part of the family. When she died, the pain I felt from losing her was so intense, that I vowed to never get another dog again. Why would I put myself through that kind of pain? Why would I choose to love something so strongly that I knew would be gone in just a few short years? No. Another dog would not be joining our family.
Loving something comes at a risk. You risk the chance of loss and of the empty hole that will be left it that thing that you love is taken away. Love is a gamble.
So, we might put up our barriers to protect ourselves. We change our behaviors. We allow fear to control our actions and our minds and we give up on loving something without fear.
On the homestead, love and fear can constantly be at odds with one another. We've talked about getting meat chickens, pigs, and beef cattle. Being as sustainable as we can on our homestead is our ultimate goal, after all. If we are choosing to eat meat, then we want to be able to produce and grow our own meat. Yet, how can we not fall in love with these animals that we intimately get to know each day? Or maybe that's not the question we should be asking.
This last week my sweet Grandma Mabel left this earth forever. She was called home, reunited with her dear husband, and welcomed into the arms of our Lord. She was ready to go. She was at peace with leaving. She missed her husband and life was getting more and more difficult each day. I remember visiting her a year after her husband's passing, hoping to bring her some comfort on a day that wasn't very comfortable. She told me that sometimes she just wished she could go be with him, and it was evident that the hole left from his absence would never be filled.
As I sat and pondered that conversation and the example that my Grandma Mabel left, I began to realize something. I would bet money that if you asked her if loving my grandpa was worth it, she would've said yes. That even though the pain was horrible, even unbearable at times, it was still worth every second that she had to love her husband freely and without fear.
You see, for my grandma to have loved him with barriers up, with fear taking charge, would have meant missing out on the deep connections that love can give. It would have changed their whole lives, depriving both of them of the beautiful love and relationship story that they were able to create.
What I've come to realize is that when we allow fear to rule how much and who we love, we begin to forget what loving someone is actually really about. Truly loving someone isn't about us or how we might feel. Truly loving someone means giving our hearts over to that risk of loss so that the one whom we love will be able to have the best relationship possible with you. It means putting aside your fear of loss and putting your loved one's needs and feelings above your own.
And yes, this means you will get hurt sometimes. This means you will need to be vulnerable and ready for pain and unmeasurable sadness. But to be able to experience those emotions can let you know just how special of a relationship you did have.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
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