The Fear of Intense Adoration

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Yesterday I encountered Amy Shark’s song “Adore” for the first time and it has haunted me ever since. Now I’m writing this post with it on repeat so I can try to convey the musical intensity she captured in those 3 minutes.

The song made me feel weird, like the first time the girl you like grabs your forearm and suddenly your veins are pumping flames instead of blood. Hearing the song was the same level of intensity I experienced when I woke up at 5am to get Starbucks with Ashley in Chicago, realizing I loved her after 2 years.

Intimacy is weird.

Intense feelings are weird.

It makes sense that we try to avoid intensely negative feelings and dull them with distraction, entertainment, noise and substances, but this dullness also reduces our availability to intensely positive emotions. Shark’s song made me ask myself,

What if I were to be adored?

Perhaps it’s because the word ‘love,’ arguably the strongest in the human language, has been reduced through overuse. I love pizza and also my spouse. I love my grandparents but also when I get all green lights on the road. Sometimes we need fresh avenues to express authentic love, and when we are reminded of the depth of love, as it is meant to be expressed, it’s a powerful feeling.

I was a junior in high school when I first told a girl I loved her. I was on the bus to school and texted my girlfriend Abby, “Good morning and I love you.”

She later told me she couldn’t stop smiling the entire day because of those 6 words. How simple is love? And how terrifyingly complex?

I often — and by often, I mean always — wish to return to such simple comprehensions of love. I wish I didn’t know so much philosophy or history. I wish I hadn’t spent so many emotions on so many people. I wish that stupid viral video had never happened.

I wish I could adore someone and be adored in return and have everything else fall away. Telescopic vision, kalopsia, is a beautiful accident of love and adoration, but sometimes we can still think our way out of it.

I think I need to think less.

Someone messaged me on Facebook the other day and he asked me for dating advice. “There are two girls I am considering pursuing,” he said. “One lives far away and I don’t know if I get excited about dating her. The other lives here and she lights me up when I think about dating her. Both are strong Christians and great women.”

“Unless I’m missing something,” I replied, “it seems like a no-brainer to me. I mean, long distance with a girl you’re unsure about, or a girl who lights you up who lives near you? What’s the problem??”

“I’m just scared that I can’t trust those feelings,” he told me.

He was scared of being too excited about the woman he was pursuing. Aren’t we all? Because allowing ourselves to fall into those emotions means we risk being hurt. And you get hurt enough times, you resist that excitement.

All this is to say, don’t fear love. Don’t fear adoration. Be careful so that you and others don’t get hurt, but don’t fear love itself. If nothing else, it is the most beautiful thing in the universe; God Himself is love, so working toward the end of love is to work toward God.

Don’t conflate the two though: not all expressions of human love is ‘god,’ but anything that is truly loving is of Him.

Pursue God.

Pursue real love.

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