For the longest time I felt that love shouldn’t hurt. I was looking at it from the perspective of abuse and have seen articles written about it. It’s true that love shouldn’t hurt in that way. However, real love does hurt and sometimes it takes some really difficult life experiences to understand that. Ask anyone who has lost a child. It’s a pain that can’t be described. Ask the parent who watches their child struggling with addiction, abusive marriages, or bullying from the other kids at school. It angers you and makes you want to “fix” it all, but you can’t. Talk to the spouse sitting in the emergency room because their better half is lying in a hospital bed after an accident. The horrible sense of helplessness and fear. Watch the outpouring of love between long time spouses when one is lying in the state between living and dying. The doubt of being able to go on without the other overwhelming. See the adult child of an elderly person care for their ill and helpless parent. The tenderness, the care, the strong sense of duty taking them through their days.
Yes, love isn’t all hearts and roses. It’s often heartache and thorns. Sometimes we need a good nudge to realize just how much we love someone. No one wants to have to go through a terrible time, but it’s bound to happen at some point or several times over the years. It’s how we deal with the nitty gritty or the pain or the horrible emptiness that comes with loss. My husband and I suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage. We have been side by side praying over our children when they were sick or at each other’s bedsides due to serious illness or an accident. We cared for ill and then dying parents and experienced the loss of other loved ones together. We supported, worried, and cried over one child’s abusive marriage, heartbreaks, and big changes in all 3 of their lives.
That’s when you learn how deep your love can be for another person. When they are all you can think about. When you struggle right along with them through whatever is going on and rejoice in the wonderful things that happen for them or to them, that’s love. When your heart aches with the physical, mental, or emotional pain they are living with, then that’s love. When the loss of someone leaves such a deep hole of emptiness that nothing or no one can fill, then you loved. It can’t be measured. It can’t be taught. It can only be felt. It can’t be only when you feel like it or the situation calls for it. And when you love like that, there is no way you would ever deliberately hurt that person no matter what sacrifice you have to make.
With the recent mass shootings, the story about the mother who died shielding her baby and the father dying shielding them both, showed the ultimate sacrifice made out of love. No time to think about it, only time to act on it. I always knew that if I had to jump in front of a speeding car or a whizzing bullet for my husband or my children, I wouldn’t hesitate. These people didn’t either. Their child is alive only because of them. That child will know what it was like to be really loved. Are you willing to do that for those you profess to love? If not, you are missing out on what real love is and what it can do for you. Yes, it does hurt, but it’s the kind of hurt that makes you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. It’s not something to be avoided. It’s something to embrace.
I hope that you will experience that kind of love both in the giving and the receiving.