This post isn’t coming out the way I want it to. My words won’t work. My eyes ache from the tears.
No one near to me has died (thank God), but I’m grieving just the same.
Some people who mean a lot to me are no longer going to be in my life the same way they were. That’s a loss, and I’m heartbroken. Honestly, I’m surprised at the intensity of my response. I’m only affected peripherally, but I’ve chosen to live my life connected to others, and that makes me vulnerable to pain.
This is a lesson I am wrestling with intently.
When I was younger, I did everything I could to avoid emotional pain. What I couldn’t avoid, I stuffed, numbed, and distanced. For a time, it seems my entire life was shaped around the idea of pain-avoidance. I isolated myself, walled myself in, withdrew, and bunkered down. It didn’t work. I was still in pain every moment of every day, because the pain was coming from deep inside of me. I struggled to keep myself from hurting others, while trying to keep others from hurting me. In the process, I alienated those I loved and lived a life completely and selfishly absorbed in mitigating my losses. (Well, “lived a life” is a generous way to put it.)
I wished myself an island. I didn’t trust others and I surely didn’t trust myself. The problem was, with a husband, three kids (at the time), extended family, and faithful friends, I was never going to achieve island status. Even though I railed desperately against the fact that we are not designed to live in isolation, others around me were far more wise. Oh how I hated the fact that they would not leave me to my own pitiful self-destruction. But they understood something I am only now discovering for myself…
True love is selfless, because at its core is the willingness to endure great personal loss for the sake of real relationship.
I’m not talking about the song Grenade and stepping in front of a train to earn the affection of someone withholding. I’m talking obedience to the commandment to love one another (John 13:34) and following in the footsteps of our Savior, who, for the sake of love, gave His very life – not so that He could earn our affection, but to create a path to relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
But it feels impossible at times, doesn’t it? When I’ve been so deeply wounded before, why would I bare my soul to be trampled on again??
Honestly? Because others did it for me, and it saved my life. Because HE did it for me, and it saved me FOREVER.
See, as a believer, I don’t get to choose to live in isolation. I am called to live in community with others – to live a lifestyle of love and service. True love is risky and painful and selfless. It is also the sweet spot of the will of God, and that means unbelievable fulfillment and joy and peace in the midst.
It hurts so much to love and be loved. I feel things now I never thought I’d feel. I’m bumped by the peripheral when I never had to care before. But I am more whole, more content, more at peace, more fulfilled, more joy-filled, more grateful, more alive than I have ever been. And I still have such a long way to go.
Scary? Terrifying. Worth it? Absolutely.
Oh God, continue to teach this selfish heart how to love. Remind me that the pain is always worth it. You know better than any of us, don’t You? Comfort us when we are wounded and protect us from the lying one. We are so grateful.
***And for those who have never not been burned – who haven’t ever experienced what it is like to be loved well, I challenge you to get to know the One who loves you MOST. Then find a fellowship of true Christ-followers and tell them your story. Keep searching until you find one, because we are most definitely out there. We are flawed and imperfect and bent toward self-protection, but our deepest desire is to love as we have been loved. Give us a chance to show you.***