A muscle that becomes stronger

By Dave Henning / October 24, 2023

“As night falls we . . . ‘diss’ illusions, gain reality, and begin to explore a greater depth of love.  Yes, of love. . . .  And to be clear, I am . . . speaking of . . . the fact of love. . . .  Love is not merely an emotion.  Love is more like a muscle that becomes stronger the more you choose to use it.  (And strengthening muscles does not always feel good).”- Alicia Britt Chole

In Chapter 8 (“The Upward Pull of Love”) of The Night is Normal, Alicia Britt Chole cites psychologist Peter Homans.  Writing in The Ability to Mourn, Homans observes that, in the night, a soul might:

  • move toward new knowledge of self and new ideals – followed by new ideas.
  • allow the paralysis to persist, which leads to apathy, cynicism, and chronic discontent.
  • disavow the experience entirely and instead attack, often in a furious or rebellious manner, the events or persons producing the de-idealization.

Therefore, Dr.Chole exhorts, to increase our love for God, we must exercise it.  Consequently, the more you love, the more your love grows.  In addition, the author compares a growing love to a pot bound plant.  Inevitably, that plant bursts its comfortable container.  As a result, both expand to occupy previously unknown territory.

Most significantly, Dr. Choles applies this concept to the night:

“Giving God our love through the night grows us in ways that simply cannot be duplicated in the day.  The night is among faith’s most powerful purifiers and amplifiers of love for God.  It is among the mightiest mentors in living loved by God.”

In conclusion, St. John of the Cross viewed the night as a sacred formational space.  Because the dark forges a love that is both rich in grace and resilient through difficulties.

Hence, Dr. Chole notes, our souls long for the upward pull of God’s love.  The author describes God’s love as a divine magnet lifting us to our true home.  Choosing love draws our minds heavenward when we feel disillusionment.  Thus, our souls move Godward.

Today’s question: How do you exercise your love like a muscle that becomes stronger?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The holy unknowing – darkness”

About the author

Dave Henning

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