What if love is harder than we think? What if it is more than just long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners? What if we have been selling ourselves short on all of what love can be?
When I think of love, the first things that come to mind are happy couples, loving parents, and laughing friends. I imagine a sweet and silly and spontaneous love. One that sprouts up unexpectedly and grows rapidly. An experience of overwhelming emotion. Something to look forward to and strive toward.
That’s what love is.
But what about when it’s not?
What about when love is hard, when it is ugly, when it’s confusing? What about when it’s not all about the good moments full of laughter?
In 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible speaks about this love that is, yes, patient and kind, but a type of love which also keeps no record of wrong, always trusting and always hoping.
That is not an easy kind of love.
That is not the kind of love that falls out of you accidentally.
It’s hard and ugly and rough.
But that’s what real love is.
It’s not always beautiful moments by lakes or late night talks. What is real love if it is not going tomarriage counseling because you feel things slipping but you made a commitment?
Sometimes love is something you have to chose to fight for.
What is love if it is not wrapping your arms around your roommate as she sobs, her husband deployed on the other side of the world?
What is love if it is not calling your friend for the fourth time without her answering but not giving up because that friendship is worth the rejection, that person is worth fighting for despite the hurt you feel?
I’m not saying that sweet, exciting, fun love is wrong by any means. What I am saying is that love, when it’s done right, tends to hurt. It can be messy and complicated. When the joy and excitement fade away, we push through and we fight, all for the sake of love.
What if the love God is calling us to is one where we love one another enough to have those hard conversations, even when it means being silent when it’s not our time to talk, and speaking up when it is? What if we pushed our comfort aside and embraced discomfort for the sake of others?
Because I don’t think God ever intended for love to be easy.
In Luke, Jesus says that loving those who love us back does nothing, because everyone can do that. Anyone can do the crossword over breakfast or trade secret notes under the desk.
No, love is more than just that.
In John, Jesus says that people will know that we follow him by the way we love. He is not talking about that “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of love.” No he is talking about the hard love, the love that challenges you, that stretches you. The love that breaks your heart when you give it.
We are called to live lives where we sacrifice what we want in preference to those around us. Lives where we forgive every single time without holding any record of wrong, and we do it all for the sake of love.
Because that is what love is.
It’s hard, it’s messy, and it’s worth it.