I just finished reading Alix Kates Shulman’s To Love What Is. The book captures the events surrounding the fall of her husband from a loft, his subsequent brain injury and its concomitant impact on their marriage. Having read an excerpt in a magazine, I was curious to read the entire book and explore her thoughts on love in the midst of trial and see if the lessons she’s learned might apply in my day to day life. (Before I go further and get calls from concerned friends, my marriage is perfectly happy and we are all healthy, and my husband is not brain-injured or diminished in any capacity. Still, at the rate that I exasperate him, I know the time may come when he loses his ever-lovin’ mind dealing with his psycho wife, so it’s good to be prepared.)
While I do not share Shulman’s lack of belief (she is atheist), I found common ground on themes that are familiar to both – the sudden twists that life brings, the loss of dreams, new realities against which we sometimes struggle, sometimes accept, sometimes not. My favorite passage comes from the last chapter which I have quoted below:
“When that tough-minded visionary philospher Friedrich Nietzsche proposed his principle amor fati, love of fate – meaning ‘love your fate,’ which is in fact your life – he wasn’t suggesting that you love only the pleasant parts. He himself was suffering extreme physical pain at the time. No, to embrace life fully meant to him to accept life’s inevitable limitations without hiding from them, no matter what fate had in store. “Amor fati,” he said, is “not merely to endure necessity, still less to deny it…but to love it.” Not a passive resignation, but an active embrace. He called it his “formula for greatness in a human being.” Amor Fati! Love your fate. Love what is.”
The active embrace of what life (or God, to this writer) has to offer is something I’ve been mulling over. This past Sunday, our Bible reading included the following passage from Romans 4 discussing Abraham’s faith through what appeared to be challenging circumstances:
“Without weakening his faith, he faced that fact that his body was as good as dead…Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.”
When I compare what Nietzsche said to what God said (oh, the irony), I’m struck with the thought that love comes through living, and that living fully, despite the circumstances, increases our love. Abraham could have chosen to live in doubt when told that a child was to come in his old age, but he instead chose to GROW during his time of waiting and actively praise God and LIVE instead of burying his head in the sand and remaining static.
What a challenge to me to actively seek to become stronger, bolder, wiser in the midst of life’s trials instead of weakening and shrinking from those things that I fight to accept. I want to embrace amor fati and enjoy the life that He has given.