Words of Hope: Always
I cannot express how grateful I am that my Dad was a student of loving well. He made it his life mission to love God and love people. Part of this relentless pursuit of loving with excellence was to notice and seek out ways he could love better. As a big powerful personality, he worked hard to take a step back, listen, and consider his actions not only from his intentions but also from his impact.
I love what Tournier says about the dangers of those in power, “The weak are conscious enough of their weakness, but not the strong of their strength, of the pressures they put on those who depend on them.”
One example of this unconscious will to power in the disguise of benevolence is the doleful story of Narcissus Whitman. A woman of noble intentions, she prayed fervently and devoted her life to the conversion of Native Americans in the Oregon territory. Ardent with zeal, she sacrificed safety, comfort, and privilege to go serve the Lord. However, her writing reveals a different story. Though laced with sincere reverence to the Lord and deep piety, page after page is steeped in contempt for those she came to convert. Her hatred of Native Americans is readily apparent in her writing; she calls them savages and spurns their attempts at community and connection. She wants them to be her servants, not her friends. She loved the notion of Christianity—not the practice.
How tragic to consider how we believe we are loving people, yet unconsciously harming them, asserting our will to dominate, conquer, and subdue others to our point of view or beliefs. Love is the opposite of control.
My Dad loved people. He loved being around people and spending time with them. He loved deeply without prejudice or ego. One way we knew Dad was fulfilling his mission was not the love he felt he had for others but how others felt loved by him. It’s not up to me to decide if I am loving someone well—it really must be answered by the beloved other.
“Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – I Corinthians 13:7