My mom has a love shield. It’s the most intricate contraption you could ever imagine. I think about her spending her life sitting in a corner, surrounded by her narcissism and her happy self-messages, adding convoluted contrivances to her love shield. With its whirring gears and rotating levers, her love shield is designed to deflect all forms of true Love. It is amazingly effective. Her love shield has finely tuned filters that keep out all but a few messages. The only messages allowed in say ‘you are right, as usual’, ‘you always know what’s best’, and ‘people know how good you are’. These messages sound nice, but they’re not true Love. These messages aren’t what she needs, but what she needs she cannot hear. When faced with true Love, I’ve seen Mom lie, storm out, hang up, and run away. I’ve watched her literally put her fingers in her ears and yell, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!! I’M NOT LISTENING!!”
I know this because I Love my mother. In my imagination I walk over to my mom and pick her up like a small child. I hold her in my arms and smooth her hair. I promise her that everything is going to be alright, that I will take care of her. In my waking dream, I see her for who she is and she sees, really sees me. I hold out my heart full of true Love to her and she takes it. My Love makes her strong and God puts his arms around us, one arm around her shoulder and one arm around mine. He looks down at us, draws us close and smiles.
Now that I know about love shields, I see them everywhere. Babies are born without love shields, but few adults lack them. The woman who talks too long and too fast has a love shield. She keeps her listeners so lost along the path of her words that they are too confused to understand her message and make a true connection. The man who works too much and comes home grumpy has a love shield. More than anything, he fears that if he gives his family the chance to really know him, to really be with him, they might Love him. I see teenagers carrying love shields. Some even literally cover their hair, their clothes and their bodies with spikes. Like barbed wire atop a security fence, the spikes say, “Keep Out! Fear me. Hate me. Even laugh at me. But whatever you do, don’t Love me!”
I have my own love shield. I drag it along after me like Linus’ security blanket. Although it’s smaller and less effective than my mother’s, it’s there for me when I need it. I use my love shield when I hear a true compliment and my head turns it into a lie. I use it when I hear true, loving correction and my heart closes up too fast to let it in. I use it when I read, or even memorize passages of Scripture that my spirit is not yet ready to understand. You see, God is the most effective Love thrower of all. He bombards me daily with true, straight, unbroken arrows of Love. Sometimes my arm grows tired of holding up my shield. I slip, and one of God’s arrows gets in. I read something I’ve read a hundred times and suddenly get it. Someone says something I’ve heard before and it miraculously makes sense. I sing the same old song and the words unexpectedly jump off the page at me with a whole new meaning. That’s God’s Love getting through.
Because I am a practical person, I realize that I’ll probably have my love shield until I die. But I am actively working to destroy it. My hope is that by the time I leave this life my love shield will be so chipped, so abused, so cracked and so small that it lies neglected in a corner covered with dust. I’ll gladly leave my love shield behind me here on earth. I won’t need it anymore.