I.D. : The Ultimate Risk
There’s a scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding – one of my favourite films of all time – where Julianne (played by Julia Roberts) finally reveals her true feelings for her dashing tall, dark and handsome boy bezzy Michael, shortly before he’s to tie the knot . The scene is heart-wrenching. She holds nothing back. There are tears. She offers her heart to him on a plate.
“Michael, I love you,” she says. “I’ve loved you for nine years. I’ve just been too arrogant and scared to realise it, and well, now, I’m just scared, so I-I-I realise this comes at a very inopportune time, but I really have this gigantic favour to ask you. Choose me. Marry me. Let me make you happy.”
But he doesn’t quite feel the same way, you see. All that honesty; those words, for nothing. Shame and rejection.
It’s a trope found in many a rom-com; the declaration of love somewhere towards the end of the film. The outpouring. The hope. The vulnerability. The risk.
That’s why we’re hooked on the genre. It’s the thrill of the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, the allure of the unknown, the draw of the happy ending.
We know from our own experience that relationships – whether in family ties, friendships, working relationships and romance – entail a whole lot of risk. That’s the beauty of them; that journey of discovering whether we are loved in return.
The internet and self-help books like He’s Just Not That Into You are full of some handy hints and tips in helping us decipher the way he feels – whether good or bad – so that we can save ourselves the embarrassment of making a rom-com-style declaration of love to a man who doesn’t see us in the way we’d like. By reading the signals beforehand [Do his pupils dilate when he sees you? Does his left shoelace point towards you? Does he reply to your texts within 10 minutes? Etc] we can avoid making fools of ourselves. Risk averted.
But is love without vulnerability and risk really love at all?
I was challenged a few weeks ago to invite my neighbours – most of whom I’d never met – into my home for a tea party as part of the 40acts Lent challenge run by Stewardship, a Christian charity.
At first I was terrified at the prospect of opening my home up to the unknown. What if they rejected my invitation? What if they didn’t like me? I was not keen on being rejected by those people who live closest to me. In some ways it made me feel even more vulnerable knowing that they were people I live alongside. There was nowhere to hide.
The act and the invitation were risky.
But they came. They jumped at the opportunity because they too longed for relationship. All I had to do was ask and invite them in. And it was worth the risk. Because although by opening up to people, by loving them, you face rejection , you also face the possibility of a amazing new relationships that are as yet unknown.
This Friday, we’ll remember the ultimate love risk. On Good Friday, Jesus died on a cross because of his love for us. Vulnerable, laid bare, broken, he died making the ultimate sacrifice and Sunday we’ll celebrate his glorious resurrection; hope realised. Some of us have chosen to accept this love gift and some of us haven’t. But he did it anyway – no prior assurance that this selfless act would be recognised. No risk aversion.
In fact, Romans 5:8 says that it was “while we were still sinners” that Christ died for us – died despite no outward display that our love risk was going to be worth it. No repentant body language on our part. No open arms. No holy acceptance. No signs that we loved him back. It was while we were still sinners.
The ultimate risk gave us the ultimate, eternal hope.
Words by Chine Mbubaegbu