The human heart has a great capacity for love. But it can only really love one thing supremely. I have had a few different loves of this type over the course of my life, and once something or someone has a hold on you like that, it’s not easy to let it go. Even if it’s ripped away without your choice, you will still try and hang on.
Otherwise, perhaps some other love slowly works its way in and steals the position in your life. But your heart will always carry that love, though not in the same way.
When I was younger, there was a short time when I believe football, or soccer, was the thing I loved most in the world, though I would never admit it at the time- even to myself; especially to myself. There were other things I knew should have been a higher priority. But it was the thing I dreamed about, set goals for and planned my time around. It took moving to a small, isolated town without any teams to slowly draw football from my heart.
I battled for a time, planning how I could get something going myself, but the business and stresses of starting new work in a new place meant I was forced to let it go.
A capacity to love
Now, football is still a love, but not the love. And that’s a big difference.
Our hearts have, not only an amazing capacity to love, but also an insatiable need to love. To devote our lives to something. We find the thing or person that we can’t live without... though perhaps later we realise maybe we can. But in that case, we discover we need something else to take its place. The need to devote ourselves to something doesn’t go away.
Which brings me to a thing I discovered not long after football. Running. You don’t do something like running as much as I do without loving it. But gradually, it’s taken a higher place in my life than it should. I denied it to myself for some time, but the heart can play tricks on you. The last few weeks, I’ve had a lot on and an injury, along with a nagging feeling it was time for a rest. It’s forced me to break the habit and reflect.
There are many things we can love in this life. I think most people have a number of great loves during their lifetime. One at a time.
Each one leaves a mark, and never really leaves you. We all long to have our hearts captured by someone or something. To give our lives to some great cause. But not all things are equal, and we can find ourselves falling for things almost by accident.
It’s one reason I think it’s good to take regular breaks from all our activities; to prevent us from making decent things an obsession.
These things can be rewarding and enrich our lives greatly, but only to a point. We miss out if we make these sorts of things our everything. Instead, we should let them teach us and guide us to what is really important.
To something that grows more intriguing and enriching with time, not less. To a love that will last us a lifetime and beyond.
Tom Anderson is pioneering www.haventogether.com, an online church plant supported by his in-person church, Catalyst, Ipswich. He has a young, growing family and enjoys playing backyard sport. Tom is a keen long-distance runner, averaging 21km each day last year. He has worked as a teacher for eleven years and enjoys perfecting a flat white on his home espresso machine. Tom would welcome a visit for a coffee some time… or an online catch-up via Zoom. See the Haven Together website to get in touch.