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The Table Video

Array Array& Lynn Underwood

Love and Loss

Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University
June 9, 2017

Love and Loss


Jean Vanier talks about love as this goal for a community of finding peace and wholeness where there is brokenness.


He says, “Love requires work, hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss. Loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.” And what, maybe, dire circumstances and suffering lay bare is this feeling of great loss. The loss of the ability to speak, the loss of movement, the loss of independence. It’s that loss that he says allows us to eventually grow and love.


These are counterintuitive ideas.

Our conversation is reminding me of research, some research that I ran across. It was kind of a review of the literature and post-traumatic stress and these authors concluded that more growth seemed to occur when the circumstances that people faced were extreme enough that they felt helpless and out of control of the situation.

So the more they were out of control, the more they experienced their helplessness, the greater the growth. And I find this very interesting from a theological perspective. So, you know, if just kind of our traditional Christian doctrine would be that we are creatures, God is the creator, right?

And so, there’s some built-in finitude to our condition even before we start taking into account our fallenness, our sinfulness. And yet that’s not something that we’re very good at acknowledging, especially in the day-to-day experiences of life. We like to think that we are in control. And of course our culture, our particular Western culture, and those of us who happen to be, you know, middle/upper class, we have a lot of control in our life. And then all of sudden something hits us that is completely outside of our control. We cannot make it better, no matter how much we try, right?

And we are faced, perhaps for the first time in our life, with our utter finitude and helplessness, which I think is actually a really positive thing because it places us where we need to be in relationship to God because if we don’t feel the need for God, then that shapes the relationship that we have with him. When we really acknowledge who we are before God, that allows for the right kind of relationship to be established.

Evan: It’s like a right sizing.


A humility that stops short of humiliation but one that puts us in our context, puts us in our place in the best way possible.