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Monday, September 23, 2013

Would That It Were So

"I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all"

Those lyrics, from White Houston's song "The Greatest Love", are so uplifting, and ring so solidly with confidence.

It's a pity that it's so very wrong.

Well, no. It's a pity that it's BS moto crap that gets way too much air time.

The lyrics base loving yourself on action - on independence, on living as one believes, on having a certain baseline store of dignity that can't be taken away.

But if you don't live up to those...what then? And there is no guarantee that one can live up to ideals like that.

Failure or success may depend on you in a footrace, but not in most of life. The rest of the world has a pretty big vote, and your best, full efforts may fall short, and you may never have had a real chance.

You can live the way you believe, and in most cases society will leave you alone. But would you live as you believe in a prison cell, or in poverty? Would you make your family come along for the ride, living as you believe?

Finally, yes, they can take away your dignity, and your self respect, and everything else. Anyone can be broken. Anyone. I was taught how to do it, and I know.

The greatest love doesn't come from heroic poses, or sloganeering, or even a successful life lived on one's own terms.

The greatest love is Jesus' acceptance of ourselves, fragility, brokenness, inconsistencies, compromises, and all. It's the only love that admits defeat, and in so doing makes the soul invincible.

The greatest love died on the Cross for your sins, and especially for the kind of moronic pride that's expressed in the song quoted above...and rose three days later to slam death to the mat. Permanently.

That doesn't need a motivational song. It just calls for humble gratitude.


  1. Andrew, I'm so glad to have discovered your blog. That's all I can say. But I had a little trouble reading this one. The letters were dark and the background is the deep red, except where there were white highlights.Totally worth the effort though.
    Best, NK

    1. Thanks, Nancy! I'm glad you're here.

      I made it more readable...I think. Haven't slept since Thursday AM, so I did a quick fix...

  2. Eight months and seven days before Whitney Houston's death, my cousin drowned in a similar way. I have lost many loved ones in my 6 decades on this earth, but none hurt me half as deep as the tragic loss of my not-quite 39-year-old cousin. She drowned in the Montezuma Hot Springs in northern New Mexico, in water that would not come up as high as her shoulders if she stood in the deepest part. A couple of hours before she died, she had sent a text message to our cell phone saying that she and a friend were on their way to the hot springs near Las Vegas, NM, to spend the day. She texted YAY! and made a smiley face, because she was so excited about their outing.

    I was writing a long loving email to her, full of plans for a future that will never be, when she drowned. Elaine was an RN on the infusion ward of UNM Hospital in Albuquerque. Most of her life was still ahead of her.... or so we thought.

    Now when I see Whitney's name mentioned, knowing that she drowned in a bathtub when she was also much too young, I think of my cousin Elaine.

    The Greatest Love of all is the Love that gave up His life to save His loved ones. I know that I would have given up my life to save my precious young cousin, if only I could have. Why is she gone, and I'm still here? It's been 2 years since we lost her, and sometimes I still want to scream.

    And yet, I am comforted by what I believe. I believe that Elaine is alive right now in heaven with our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, with her dad my very precious uncle, and with all those other dear loved ones who have gone before. We are all going to die, every last one of us, sooner or later, if Jesus doesn't come back first. We don't know when and we don't know how we will draw our last breath, we only know that the moment will eventually come for each of us. It could be years from now, it could be tomorrow, it could be five minutes from now.

    I grieved hard and long for Lainie. I still grieve. But today I try to remember the great gift God gave us the night before she died. Elaine called, and we talked on the phone for nearly an hour on the last night of her life. We said things that we had never said to each other before, things that I know we would have wanted to say if we had been aware that this was going to be our last conversation in this life.

    For the first time ever I told her how much I love her, during that last phone call. I said, "I love you four ways: 1. I love you because you are YOU. 2. I love you because you are my cousin. 3. I love you because your dad was my favorite uncle whom I dearly loved, and 4. I love you because your mother is my favorite beloved aunt."

    She counted along with me as I said that: 1, 2, 3, 4. We cried and we laughed and our souls touched during that last conversation in a way that we had never been able to touch before, with the 19 year age gap between us. Our hearts truly met... for the first time. And then, the next day, she was gone.

    For a long time I thought that was unbearably tragic, the fact that I lost her, right after we had JUST gotten past the barrier that had always seemed to exist between my cousin and me. But lately I have come to realize what a tremendous GIFT that was.

    And now I know how important it is to always tell the people we love how much they mean to us.... while we still can. You never know when the last goodbye.... is the last goodbye.

    "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 1 John 4:7

    1. No words can express my sorrow at your loss...and no words can describe my admiration for the way you approach it.

      You've summed up Christianity, the heart of Christianity, in these paragraphs.