There is a line at the end of the second Red movie where John Malkovich turns to Helen Mirren and whispers in reply to her comment concerning their friend played by Bruce Willis that: “He made the run to emotional safety.” Throughout the movie (both movies actually…) the two ruthless spies continually share comical romantic advice with Willis’ character concerning his relationship with his love interest. At the end, the viewers come to the conclusion that Willis has chosen to let go of his cautious nature and simply let his heart lead. That sentence and the results it describes seems (maybe… possibly) to be similar to an important life-changing decision that I made a few years ago…
In the spring of 2010 I came to a life-altering decision that changed the way I thought and operated. That year had been a very difficult time in my life as we began to be faced with the realities of the disease that my wife had recently been diagnosed with. Things suddenly became quite crazy in our home! I found myself torn between the ever-increasing needs of my wife, the ground up rebuilding of the Children’s program at our old church and the seemingly impossible demands of my new secular job that took me out of the home for a lot more than eight hours a day!
So after much (did I mention much, much, agonizing...) prayer and personal reflection, I stepped over a threshold that I knew I could never cross back over again! I had vividly come to the heart- wrenching revelation that life was going to be drastically different than I had ever experienced before... and that I had to be vastly different as well. In that season of trauma – in which I was beginning to have all the ear-marks of a nervous breakdown – I stepped over the threshold into Unconditional Love.
At that moment in time it was no longer about me but about her! I made an instant change from a “Me” mentality to a “Thee” way of living. I decided… like that line in the movie… that I had to let go of everything I wanted, every concern and be led by the man on the inside of me… the one being renewed by the praise, purpose and will of God.
In my recent realization of that turning point and subsequent study of what Unconditional Love is all about, along with Paul’s words in I Corinthians 13:4-8, I also saw how this sudden change was the cause of much conflict between me and others!
Whoa! How can Unconditional Love cause problems? Well, let me tell you what I discovered… First and foremost, not everyone around me made the same decision as fast (or at all) as I did. In my mind the change was made and it was the foundation from which I instantly began to make every plan, every decision and every action taken.
I knew that I could not adequately give Piper the personal attention and increasing care that she required and be gone from 9-12 hours a day in order to fulfill the responsibilities of my secular job. I knew that we needed to stay in the safe, peaceful and friendly, close knit housing community that we were living in for her well-being and stimulation as much as for mine! I knew a lot of things needed to happen and was becoming fiercely focused on what was best for her while I placed my personal life’s bucket list on the shelf!
Well… not everyone around me saw things from the same new perspective that I did and tended to fight me every step of the way. I now think that part of trouble came as I was so focused on Piper and meeting her every need that I failed to see or take the time to understand that others had not stepped over that same threshold. After all, I am her husband and she was and is my life, while others have their own lives to deal with as well. Maybe I could have been a bit more patient with them as they made their own “run to emotional safety!”
Reading Paul’s words concerning love in the Wuest Expanded Translation New Testament was like reviewing a video of actual events back in the years following my life-changing decision. I observed scenes that demonstrated almost word for word descriptions of what Paul said Unconditional Love wasn’t supposed to be. For instance…unbecoming, seeking after its own, aroused to anger, taking (what was considered past) evil into account, not bearing up under all things and worst of all… losing heart and courage.
I’ve personally experienced all of these negative actions from others and have had to fight similar thoughts exploding inside of me toward those who expressed them! But even though they have been some of the hardest lessons of my life, I HAVE learned many things and am stronger and more well-rounded for those experiences and inner battles. The most exciting thing about all of this is that through it all, I have discovered the truth of Paul’s promise in I Corinthians 13:8… mainly, that Unconditional “Love never fails.”
I recently found myself at the end of the day after I had tucked Piper in for the night, sitting on the floor next to the dog, petting his soft white fur with my aching-stiff joints and a slight headache, and entertaining the thought of “What’s in all this for me?” Then I glanced over at my “Piper Wall” next to my bed that is covered from practically ceiling to floor with pictures of my lovely girlfriend, wife, and joy of my life and saw that ugly thought vanish as I sighed at her and how wonderful my life has been. From there I could but only nod and smile at the worthwhileness of my step over the threshold into the realm of Unconditional, unquestioning, un-selfish Love from me to her!
What do you think? Where are you when it comes to your loved ones and to those special folks in your life? Have you stepped over the threshold into the realm of Unconditional Love?
Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting myself to walk in Unconditional Love today?”