Love and the Hard Things

Sometimes– dare I say oftentimes– love is a hard choice.

That is, real love is hard. Not the superficial kind.

Superficial things are easy. It is easy to wallow in apathy or oblivion; easy to waste life on the insignificant; easy to choose to do nothing. Lord knows that in my life, I have. And I am sorry for that.

Real love is love that isn’t afraid to get dirty. It’s not afraid to suffer. It forgives– even the worst betrayal. It sacrifices– even for those we deem unfit. Real love is always moving, always deep– never stagnant, never shallow. Real love requires action–forces us where we are uncomfortable– requires us to lower the umbrella shielding us from the rain. Because we have to face the hurt to fix it.

“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”
― Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

This week we’ve seen some awful things. People hurting people, physically– verbally. I really, truly want to know: is it possible to love our enemies? Possible to pray for our persecutors? To forgive the unthinkable? To get on our knees for the unlovable? I have been shaken and outright world-weary to my bones these last few months, continually perplexed by people breaking people: two police officers killed in the line of duty: a young mother and a father of eight. Syrian children living a hell and dying in a war. Christians again crucified because of their faith. Headlines saturated with rape and sexual assault. Friendships dissolved in the arena of social media over politics. We need help. Things are broken– they always have been– but we are bleeding bad, and we don’t seem to be mending. Lord, show us how to love each other– forgive each other– heal each other– past the wrecked and wretched of the world.

“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power. I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it” ― Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

I want to learn to love like Jesus did. Though that sacrifice was a hard choice for Him, too. I think of Him– fully God yet fully man– in the Garden of Gethsemane wrestling with His will, crying out for mercy: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42). Love propelled Christ to the cross where He suffered to save the world, where He lived love– gritty, painful, pure, real love. Love for all of us. He died for the worst of us as much as He died for the best of us. This divine love is our greatest hope in this world– our brightest light.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” –St. Augustine 

Friends, things are getting ugly out there. Let’s learn to love each other past our views, past our comfort zones, past the easy. Let’s learn to starve our fears with love. Press on. Continue to “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

photo by Alamy 

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