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.
I’m not a psychologist, but I believe that each one of us live our lives according to the love we’ve experienced, believing wholeheartedly that love drives every significant decision we make. People who have been loved well have more confidence than those who haven’t. Some who’ve had miserable experiences with love (whether family, friends, or romantic interests) set love aside entirely and focus on achievements instead. Others live only to numb the pain day after day. Some fear the presence of love while others fear the absence of it. In my own past I know that I’ve made decisions according to the love I felt and at other times I’ve made decisions that hinged on how I perceived that another person loved me. If the love meter is running high, I’m more likely to be present. If the love meter is running low then I am less available. The pieces of me that I choose to share or hide have been contingent on either my desire for love to strengthen or for fear that it might fade. And let’s be honest … is there any reason whatsoever to intentionally have children that doesn’t involve some degree of hope for love? Either we want to give it or receive it, and children are a good way to accomplish both. Again, I’m not a psychologist, but I believe that if each one of us had the benefit of a long life, a diagnosis and a deathbed, we’d reflect on the gifts and the regrets of love. I doubt I’d be lying there wishing I could have owned a Mercedes just once in my life, that I’d had a nicer home or that I’d sold more books. I believe we’ll hurt over hurts and we’ll rejoice over life’s greatest loves.
We need love. It’s our purpose. Those who deny this are the ones who perhaps need it most. If humans didn’t need it, God wouldn’t have commanded us to walk in it. The story of Jesus from beginning throughout eternity is a story of redeeming love. Jesus has offered Himself to every person regardless of background, financial status, race, and sin or otherwise. He willingly hung on a cross in the most radical act of love known to mankind, to offer love, forgiveness and freedom to anyone who would put their faith in Him. The new covenant has been boiled down to two commands. Love God and love others. If we claim to live in Him, we are to walk as he walked. Jesus walked in love and commands us to do the same.
As I see it, Jesus came into this world to live among us to show us love and has left us with a responsibility to carry out His ministry into the world. We could choose to set love aside and focus on ambitions. We could sanction the sharks to have their way with love while we climb ladders, numb pain or retreat into a life of solitude. Or, in the way that Jesus modeled, we can take His message into the world and just love at all costs while resting in the assurance that He is the constant source, more than enough to sustain our portion for eternity, and certainly this life. When we come to the end of ourselves and devote this life to His mission, He issues us a double-portion of everything He freely gives. He gives each enough to keep and also enough to sacrifice. He alone makes it possible for us to feel loved and then to be love to a watching world. His love in us is a reflection of Him so He wants more than anything for our lives to resemble the love He has for all of humanity. He created us to expose His heart.
(parts 2, 3 & 4 coming soon)