I’ve not written much this past week. Life has become incredibly busy and choatic, as life tends to do sometimes. Right after I returned home from a trip to Iowa, my crew and I fell into an “End-of-the-school-year-company-is-coming-oh-my-goodness-are-you-going-to-graduate-you-have-to-pass-physics-clean-the-house-prepare-for-a-big-businesss-trip” mode. Needless to say, both our days and our nights have been full. And will be for the foreseeable future, at least until the end of June.
However, I read something today on Twitter, of all things, that compelled me to take a break from the washing machine and spreadsheets in order to write up my thoughts.
It was a random Tweet, from a website, of a quote that wasn’t attributed to anyone. I Googled it, but had no success in finding an author or speaker attached to it. Maybe you’ve heard it before; I hadn’t:
Love harder than any pain you’ve ever felt.
As I vacuumed and scrubbed the kitchen, I turned those words over in my mind. This is not unusual—I love words. I love to think about new (to me) thoughts. And this was a new thought for me, actually.
How does one do this? How does one love harder, love more than the deepest pain they have ever felt?
I wish I knew how to love that deeply.
Let me be honest with you. I can get pretty self-centered–pretty ugly–at times. Much more than I’d like to admit, even to myself. There are some days that all I can see is the pain, and on those days I can be pretty blind. I can be self-pitying. I can forget how to fight for joy. I can forget how to love deeply.
And, on those days, I can also quickly forget how deeply God loves me. And how deeply He loves those around me, and how He has called me to also love deeply–my crew, my friends, my neighbors, those who are hurting, those who are suffering,….the list is long…..
How do I do this? I mean, I love, but I love so imperfectly! And, it is sometimes so much easier to say “I hurt. I’m weary. I don’t have time. I don’t want to take that risk of caring or loving deeply. What if I fail?” And so, many times, I don’t love when I am called to love. And I don’t care when I am called to care. I can become very hard, very quickly. I can become very insensitive in the blink of an eye. I can slip into cynicism faster than I can remember how to spell it.
Ugh, what does it look like, to love hard?
As I cleaned and contemplated this idea, I also found myself drawn to a scripture that I often overlook. To a verse that I often dismiss as a child’s verse–a cliche verse–a verse we teach our children to memorize at Vacation Bible School, but then forget to really examine what it means ourselves:
This—this is what it looks like to love harder than any pain you have ever felt. Do I believe God experiences pain–experiences grief? I do. I haven’t always believed that, but I do now. I don’t have time or space to go into my reasoning, but there is just too much evidence to suggest otherwise. And here, in this verse, we see a form of one of the most ultimate griefs known to man–that of the loss of a child. Even though God knew–he knew!–He would be with His Son again, there had to be tremendous pain in knowing what hurt, what suffering, His child was going to endure in the giving of His life for us. And no, this wasn’t some sort of divine child abuse. It was redemption. For you. For me.
All because of these words “For God so loved the world”.
What do I do with this? What do you do with it? I’ll never, ever, be able to attain the degree of love that God possesses. God is love (1 John 4:8). I’ll always fall short in my love of those God has placed in my life. But that doesn’t give me the license not to strive to love well. It doesn’t give me the license to say “I’ve been hurt deeply in this life. I don’t want to love. It’s too much work. It’s too painful.”—though to do so seems like the easy way out. Joyless–but easier.
Or I can choose to be grateful for God’s love that He has poured out so freely upon me, even in this life that is full of immense pain and suffering. I can choose to recognize the enormity of the gift of God’s son for the forgiveness of my sins, because “God so loved the world.” And in response to that overwhelming, non-understandable love, I can ask God to give me a deep love for others. Because, honestly, without Him giving me the capacity to love, I can’t do it. Not well, anyway.
I can’t love “harder”. And you can’t love “harder”. But, what we can do, is to make it my constant prayer that God will give me the desire and the ability to love deeper than any pain that we’ve ever felt.