And I’ve come to recognise she is absolutely right. Love is a doing word, a verb, over and above that most primal of feelings. Love is the unabashed truth that conquers fear and bathes us in understanding and acceptance.
Love is about opening up to our vulnerabilities, about loving the ‘warts’ because without them there would be no ‘all’.
The love of something can make us fearful: of “the sword hidden amongst his pinions”, and of the penetrating light it pours into our darkest parts, throwing them up for all to see. Love gives us the choice to turn and cover our eyes, or to stare back at ourselves with deeper acceptance of our intricacies and foibles.
Taking my place in an adoptive family has taught me much about Love. There is no question that Love can leave us fractured and vulnerable; our children show us that every day. What I am suggesting is that Love is an invitation to open ourselves up to that vulnerability, and to see it differently: as the vital essence that makes each of us uniquely and gloriously – us.
Growth – building resilience – does not mean fixing our cracks; or even healing them. It means learning how to carry them, to scaffold and protect them; to stride out and embrace the world all the better because of them. The more I take my focus away from ‘fixing’ and move into ‘accepting’, the stronger we both become. I ‘adopted’ an ‘adoptee’, with all the nooks and crannies that trauma and attachment brings – no ‘fixing’ required. In my acceptance of the whole of her, she sees the open door to accept herself.
We should embrace our vulnerabilities – all of them. Love ourselves all the more for them. Look at them with open, unjudgemental eyes, and see the truth they hold in how much bigger and better a person they make us. And in accepting ourselves, give others the permission to so the same.
That is when Love becomes … Agape.