Remember the 1969 song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”? It was performed by Jackie DeShannon, who wrote it with her brother, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holiday. Each time I hear it, it brings back memories of a time when love seemed to be the answer to everything.
The pop songs we listen and dance to reflect our secular hopes and feelings about romantic love. Christian music reflects these same feelings, hopes, and desires with respect to our relationship with God.
But despite the vibe and ever-present hopeful lyrics of these songs, is there evidence that this kind of love is real? Is love an experience mirrored in music, or is it simply a once-upon-a-time feeling that seems further away with each passing day?
I’m constantly amazed at how much easier it is to feel disconnected rather than connected. So many opportunities bring feelings of alienation, isolation, and being out of touch. Far fewer bring feelings of inclusion, connection, and yes, even love. Does this reflect reality, or do we judge everyday experiences too harshly and maximize their consequences?
Everyone feels disconnected and unloved sometimes, but these feelings are more pronounced for people with an affliction that maximizes feelings of isolation. Continual anxiety, fear, and stirrings of guilt over decisions made or not made and actions taken or not taken encourages negative interpretation.
One perspective that the popular love songs of any day seem to miss—and which the sacred hymns hint at but do not easily proclaim—is that although God is love, and God is much more than a feeling, God’s love is present in the moment of disconnect as well as at the moment of connection. God is most present and loving when we feel the most vulnerable, isolated, and alienated. Discovering and celebrating the presence of God’s love at the most profoundly distressing moments it is an authentic experience of what it means to be a human being.
This has been a long introduction to what is really a single point: To discover the presence of God and experience the profound feeling of being connected and loved, try to see scrupulosity as a vehicle of the manifestation of God’s grace and love.
This might sound impossible—a quest for completeness that seems out of reach—but it’s not. We often discover truth and beauty in ways we least expect. The unpredictable always grabs our attention. Love songs speak of finding “unexpected” love, of embracing “impossible” feelings, of arriving at the moment of truth when you know you’re connected and that you’re going to be fine.
If you can stop seeing your struggle as the point of disconnect in your relationship with God and try to see it as a point of connection, you will discover that in your scrupulosity, there is God.
There is God.
Fr. Thomas M. Santa, CSsR