February 9 – 15th, 2015
LOVE IS TIED TO THE WILL.
I heard a great sermon yesterday at church on loving your enemies.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ longest recorded sermon, Jesus said a lot of famous things. In this sermon, passages like the Beatitudes (blessed are the ___ for they shall ___”), stuff about being “Light of the World,” the law, anger, lust, divorce, oath-keeping, “turning the other cheek” are quoted and misquoted often in popular culture. It is a really interesting sermon, and fascinating to hear what the (in)famous Jesus had to say from his own mouth. One of the most famous parts of the sermon is this:
“You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love you neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5).
In one of the gospels, someone says to him (a smart guy I may add):
“Who is my neighbor?”
Then Jesus proceeds to tell him the very famous story of the “Good Samaritan.” It is a story about a Jewish man who was robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite (another Jewish guy) walked past the beaten man and did not help him, but a Samaritan does. This was very interesting because Samaritans were foreigners not at all liked by Jewish people at the time. I am pretty sure Samaritans didn’t care for them either. But, the Good Samaritan picked the man up, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn, paid for the innkeeper to tend to him and went on his way. He didn’t wait to be thanked but did it out…Love?
Point of the story? Everyone is your neighbor.
When we are exclusive in who we are willing to call our neighbor, we want to love discriminately OR looking for excuses not to love inclusively. That kind of love is often motivated by self-centeredness, and how we think it makes us feel instead of what it could do for others. And, perhaps it actually isn’t love at all. On a weekend that celebrates romantic love (Valentines/GALintines day just passed–YAAAY), I think it’s great to remember that love is not really an emotion. Love is tied to the will. Jesus and wise people are very good about separating their emotions from love. I’m not sure if the point is to LIKE everyone or have an affinity for them. It is to love everyone. And that sounds crazily difficult but crazily amazing.
I am no love guru, mind you, and am also a romantic in many ways, but the older I get, the more I realize that love is a decision. My parents have been married 30 years and that is not because they have liked each other all the time or just better than other people (even though they are great people). Attraction and affinity and liking someone naturally, that is about the FEELS and is SUPER IMPORTANT, but love–love is supernatural. Do I believe in true love? Sure, if that means truly putting in the work to love someone.
I can’t help but reflect on this now, and I’m going to tell you a bit about ONE event that happened last week at the Juggling Careers in Internal Medicine last week that kind of connects to this sentiment.
Juggling Careers in Internal Medicine
This past week, the Internal Medicine interest group had an event called, “Juggling Careers in Internal Medicine.” It was a dinner and panel of a bunch of internal medicine doctors who sub-specialized: Sleep medicine/critical care, geneticist, cardiologist, GI doc and etc etc. I’m interested in internal medicine and pediatrics so I thought it would be a good idea to go to this panel. I was not there to decide on a specialty but to hear about how they balanced their busy schedules with having kids, being married or a functional person in general. I also wanted to know what the day in the life of ____ was like. Everyone had differing opinions. The GI doc loved her job and said that GI is so procedural and “great for women.” And, internal medicine residency is not that bad. The cardiologist disagreed with her and said that his daughter in peds residency was definitely working long hours, and it is not easy. I did not come away with too many big insights but noticed two things they all seemed to agree on:
- There isn’t a really good time to have kids. You just have to do what you’ve gotta do.
- They really could have done more than one specialty.
For the earlier years of medical school and some would say the entire time, medical students are constantly asking themselves if the specialty or residency they have in mind is right for them. There is such a weighty obligation to make the right choice and not regret it for the rest of our lives. We shadow doctors and have so many experiences wondering if this job is, “the one.” But, I learned that night that much like loving a person–loving your job is tied to the will. Sure, there are some specialties that just will not work for a person. But, many of them said that they chose their specialty because they were inspired but someone who mentored them or were just in the right place at the right time to have an affinity for it. There are inspiring and excellent physicians in any specialty. Many medical students refuse to even consider other paths like medicine v surgery because of prestige, where they think they’d fit in or other reasons. But, one doctor said, “I could have definitely done something else and would have been happy with that.”
Something was very freeing about that doctor saying that. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find the right things to love–and that is actually really difficult. Humans are really bad at making good decisions about what to love and what to hate. Maybe opening up our hearts to new experiences and new people, loving indiscriminately, is not so crazy after all.
True love is real. It is active.