Yes there is pain in love. Love is a sacrifice and in many ways a risk because we are asked to give away the most precious thing. We may have to give up comfort and risk emotional safety and we may even open ourselves up to more pain - but our sacrifices bring rewards.
LET LOVE SACRIFICE
the pain of love
I’ve known a bit about the pain of love, even knowing what it feels like to want to withdraw it all, strap it to an anchor and leave it on the ocean floor where the sharks might chew it bit by chunky bit. I’ve thrown in the towel a few times. Some of my deepest wounds have been betrayals by very close friends and loved ones. Many people do not take love, honor and loyalty seriously, leaving the rest of us feeling foolish. Our fear regarding love has everything to do with the reality that it might not be returned or that it might not last forever. I have been hurt by a couple of close friends in my lifetime which led me to a very personal pledge that I would never allow myself to have a “best” friend again. It felt much safer to me to just categorize everyone as a “friend” and maintain my deeper feelings as private without ever revealing my softest side. Tina Turner evidently understood this. She sang “What’s Love Got To Do With It” like she deeply meant it. The rest of the world could relate, apparently, because it was her biggest success ever in a career that has spanned 4 decades. Rolling Stone magazine even named it one of the top 500 best songs of all time. The lyrics were simple: “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do with it? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” We are so affected by love that we either run full-speed toward it or full-speed away.
What if we were to reverse the waste, abandon the greed, destroy what is self-serving to instead become drenched in the overflow and get back into the business of doing exactly what it is we were created to do? To do love and to be love. To be hearts in the shape of Christ, walking it out step-by-step across the planet until Heaven comes. It may sound far-fetched, but who cares? If we carried love into the darkest places the whole world would be brighter and everyone could see where they are going. Jesus made it simple when he said in Matthew 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” If we love God and love others, the full extent of the law is being fulfilled in us.
I don’t know about you, but when my time passes and I meet my maker, I want but one great accomplishment to be stamped across my earthly file. SHE LOVED WELL. More than I want to be pretty and in good shape I want to be love. More than I want to accumulate riches I want to drip love. More than I want to be a notable author, I want to live love. More than I want to raise children to succeed in the world, I want to raise children who are love. More than I want to be remembered for knowledge or wisdom, a talent or ability, I want to be remembered for love. I want to love when it’s hard, when it hurts, when it seems impossible and to love with a love that stops the flow of tears and turns frowns upside down. I want to love with a hope that can never be undone, and with a fury that makes demons cry. I want to be of the love that defeats evil, the most excellent kind of 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 love; “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And when I’m gone, I want my love to remain, to keep working, and to keep loving. I want to leave a legacy of love.
The only way we can feasibly love the way God loves us is to first receive the full offering of His love and let it steep. Let it be. To let love be our DNA, our ground-wire, our equalizer and neutralizer. God’s love is in us so that we can be love to the world. Let us let love be.
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Nehemiah 9:16-17 “But they and our ancestors acted presumptuously and stiffened their necks and did not obey your commandments; they refused to obey, and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them; but they stiffened their necks and determined to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them.”
Hold.Up.Wait.A.Minute! Like me, are you wondering how your biography wound up in the book of Nehemiah? Stiff-necked much? Oh the ways I have refused to obey.
I have remained in situations that God asked me to step away from.
I have worked with stubborn persistence to try and force outcomes.
I’ve withheld encouragement from those who needed it.
I’ve celebrated the failures of people I secretly dislike.
I have worshiped my children.
I have disrespected my spouse.
I've been selfish, greedy, judgmental....
This list could continue for pages but the bottom-line is …I’ve ignored Jesus when my own will has struggled for control.
There are two paths to choose in this life, my own or His. When I choose to ignore Him (disobedience) and create my own path, I am stiff-necked.
Think literally about a stiff neck for a moment. Regularly I wake up in the morning with a sore and stiff neck due to the position in which I sleep, and as I get older the problem worsens. At times I have trouble turning my head to see when I’m driving to change lanes or merge because my neck is so sore. When I’m standing and someone behind me calls out my name, I have to turn my entire body around to communicate because the range of motion in my neck is limited. Literally, my neck is too stiff to look.
If you have naughty children or naughty pets, you may have experienced times where you discovered something they’ve done that they shouldn’t have and so you raise your voice with a disappointing tone to get their attention. It’s not unusual for me to find a mess and approach my youngest son, Shawn, with my mommy tone and say, “OH SHAWNIE – what happened here?” In his wildest dreams, he believes that if he doesn’t acknowledge me (sitting 2 inches away from his face) and doesn’t look toward me, that I might simply let it go. This is stiff-necked, the refusal to acknowledge disobedience. We refuse to look because we know. We know exactly what we’ve done or not done and we simply cannot bear the eye-contact, the confirmation. We’d much rather pretend it never happened and hope for a redemptive do-over. The error in that though is that the redemption comes when we look toward, not when we look away. When we look to, we see a God who sees us with unfathomable love.
Such beauty and comfort and joy find my heart in these words. “Abounding” is a word to describe a sense of overflowing, something that has been well provided, while “steadfast” simply means firm and unwavering. Hope lives here in the love of God. Even when we are disobedient, when we ignore the wonders of the Lord and when we choose slavery to this world over freedom in Christ, God loves us with an overwhelming, firm and unwavering love that overflows. Unstoppable love. Timeless, His love knows not only no end but also no beginning. He has always loved us. Pure, there is nothing more amazing as the healing, saving, perpetual condition of being loved by the One who gathered dust in His hands to form the first man, thereby breathing life into each one who would come next. Yet we’ve spent millenniums confusing what we were created for, substituting all manner of waste for the one thing that truly can never be wasted... love.