But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
The Ways to Authentic Transformation and Love
Whoever first came up with the idea that you fall into love must have been someone who knew what love truly is.
When you fall in love, it can indeed feel like falling. You don’t pick who you fall in love with, you trip into it, taken by surprise. It’s not unlike jumping into water from a high rock. That’s what it felt like for me when I fell in love with Jesse, and reportedly, what it was like for him to fall in love with me. I think you can only ever really experience true, authentic love if you fall into it. Which is fortunate, because I’m not sure we’d walk willingly into love if we knew all that it would ask of us over the years.
Love is hard. Love is responsible. Love is committed. Love is sacrifice. Love is give and take. It asks the hard questions. It sees all the imperfections. It witnesses the failures and the tantrums and the betrayals. It hears the fights and the words and the anger. It sits by hospital beds, on the edge of lounges, and by the phone. When we fall into love, we fall into inextricable connection with another human being. And not just romantic love: parents, friends, families, neighbors. Our hearts are stolen and placed within the spirits and bodies of others. Which is all at once the most beautiful and most frightening thing.
It turns out that climbing ladders, or scaling mountains, or achieving piles of success isn’t what fulfills us. The falling does. The way up is to fall.
Because the thing that makes love beautiful are those vulnerable moments of bare heart and soul.
Spiritually, it’s the same. The way up is the way down. Paul taught this when he said: “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We think that the climbing to the top of the ladder of perfection is the end game. But real fulfillment is found when we trust the divine through our seasons of “falling.” It’s an incredibly strong thing to be able to fall, and to fail, without falling apart. Or to fall apart and allow yourself to be rebuilt, transformed, resurrected.
It would have been completely absurd to his followers that Jesus was murdered as an enemy of the state by the Roman government, betrayed by his countrymen. The one who was meant to save them all, ride in on a white horse and save them through any means necessary, was instead beaten and tortured and hung on a cross.
But you can only have a resurrection after a death. You can only rise after you’ve fallen. Faith alone holds you while you stand waiting and hoping and trusting. Then, and only then, will love deepen.
Sufficient grace isn’t to excuse your “fallenness.” Grace shows us the way. Grace allows us to fall. It’s a grace that we fall in love with our partners, kids, friends, and family. And it's grace that keeps us present in the bad times, as well as the good. Grace whispers that sacrifice and stumbling and humility are the ways to authentic transformation and love.
“Great love is always a discovery, a revelation, a wonderful surprise, a falling into “something” much bigger and deeper that is literally beyond us and larger than us.” Richard Rohr.
Sufficient for all.
Written by Lizzy Milani