When I was 12, I shocked my local community of braced youths by forgoing my chance to snag the most bomb guy in middle school.* We were a hot item for quite a while — meaningfully passing each other the basketball during pick-up games, boldly standing in the same 10 ft.2 area of space, making eye contact when we laughed at something… you know, the type of intimacy that makes a 12 year old girl’s heart do cartwheels.
BUT THEN, my well-meaning oldest sister – overwhelmed by the awkward absurdity of middle-school crushes, I suppose – went and told my crush that I “like-liked” him.
Instead of being relieved that my “secret” crush was revealed, I had a panic attack. Then, like a true irrational and hysterical woman, I proceeded to go out of my way to implement strategic snubbery to make sure he understood I was 100% uninterested. I all but told this dude to talk to the hand. I’m still not even sure what my goals were in this – I think I was just embarrassed, and maybe scared shoot-less that he didn’t like me as much as I liked him (?). Oh, the horror!
Shamefully, I kept elements of this self-defeating defensiveness into early adulthood.** Each relationship began this weird game of “how little can I show him I care about him?” I would hold back to see how much skin in the game the guy had before I would give even the teensiest indication that I valued him a little bit more than my faithful philodendrun. I adopted an economic strategy – try to find the best guy possible (maximize benefits) that will tolerate me putting in the least amount of effort (minimize costs). Because I won’t be no fool for anyone! Shazam!
Ack. What a fool I was, trying not to be a fool.
Man is nought but folly’s slave,
From the cradle to the grave.
W. H. Ireland—Modern Ship of Fools.
I’m especially convicted when I think about Jesus and his romantic pursuit of his Bride.*** Does anyone look at the cross – at a man who laid his life down for people whoring after things that lead to death – and think “Ugh, what a silly fool.” No. Anyone who fully absorbs the cross falls at his feet in worship. His kindness leads us to repentance, and then we restructure every part of our lives accordingly.
Who is the fool: Jesus, or the person who sees the cross – in all of its gory and tangible expression of love – and says, “meh”?
There seems to be a strange, paradoxical truth: The person who loves the least is the fool. Someone to be pitied for their hardness of heart and stubborn refusal to allow themselves to be fully loved. And the person who loves the most is the hero. Someone to be followed, and admired for their tenderness of heart and stubborn refusal to be selfish.
Pity the fool.
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*The middle school of my homeschool group, whatever that is worth. Jk, he was actually pretty adorbs, even by elite public school standards. *snorts*
**This was undergrad, so I use the term “adult” loosely
***Aka the church