Recently, I’ve been listening repeatedly to a song called “Columbia” by Local Natives. There have been mornings and evenings when the chorus has quite literally haunted me. The lyrics are about the death of a friend who embodied generosity and love, and how, since their death, “every night” the narrator now asks themselves:
Am I giving enough? ... Am I loving enough? ... Am I?
During my commute this morning, it brought me to tears to reflect with this kind of self-critical thinking, especially when applied to “every night”. With the birth of Ellis, seeing the profound fragility, dependence, and beautiful significance of this new life, while at the same time seeing Shawna undergo a densely vulnerable and foundational transformation physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I can’t help but feel absolutely awed. What a stupid word to describe how I feel to see them! Words are worthless for communicating the experience. It’s like trying to describe the vastness of the ocean and the countless expressions of life held within it. It’s impossible and vain to attempt.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m at risk of being a mere spectator because I’m not the weak, dependent baby, nor am I the mother who’s given everything she was and still continues to give in new and evolving ways. I’m just there. Am I giving enough? They both give everything. I feel so embarrassed for having at times hit my own emotional and physical limits when they’ve given everything they possibly can to do their best.
The joy and companionship I feel when I look into their eyes is the kind of satisfaction and love that people have lived their lives searching for. And here I am, helplessly stumbled into it. It’s ridiculous. Am I loving enough?
This experience reminds me why I have faith in God, and why Jesus’ words and life have endlessly spoken to me. Love. It isn’t a circumstance or an emotion. It is a clarity of vision. And I ache when I think of how rarely I exude the effort to see with this clarity. Then there are moments when I see more clearly who Shawna and Ellis are and I am given a blinding light that knocks me off my ass, like Saul on the road to Damascus, and I can’t believe I’ve wasted a single moment of my life living any other way. Am I giving enough? Am I loving enough? Am I?
I love Shawna so much. And I love our son, as well, so much. And I know that what I see in them is a glimpse of what exists in you; in all and through all. This is what has made marriage so significant to me. Loving with this consistent devotion and commitment is the most enlightening experience to the Reality and significance of life. There is not anything else like it.
Am I giving enough? Am I loving enough? Am I? The tough truth is, there is no answer. The moment I answer with a yes or no, I miss the point. “Enough” insinuates a conclusion. There is no conclusion in Love. It is eternally creative, giving, and present. God is Love. Love is God.
Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
– 1 John 4.7/8