We come by our desires for love honestly, having been created in the image of the One who is love. No matter who you are, loving and being loved is risky business. There are times we may get hurt in a relationship; the pain can seem unbearable. If God is love, why is it so devastating? When sin entered the world, so did the pain and corruption of love.
When the attacks on American soil took place on 9/11/2001, sixty-seven citizens of the United Kingdom perished. Queen Elizabeth II wrote in a letter offering her sympathies to the members of an Anglican congregation meeting in New York City: “Grief is the price we pay for love . . . .” What a wise and painful reality for all who live on this earth! We grieve over the sudden physical loss of someone we hold dear; we also grieve when that separation occurs because of a relationship breaking apart. (During the process of working through a divorce I have heard many clients say, “This would be easier if one of us was dead!”)
There are times when we may be tempted to stop loving to avoid such grief. The problem is, when we do not love we lose touch with our Creator and no longer live fully. Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor, noted author and Nobel Laureate) stated in a US News and World Report interview (October 27, 1986),
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.”
Indifference is the pinnacle of the corruption of love. To not love is to suffer death inwardly, even as we take each breath.
In the Counseling Room we talk about some of the risks of loving as well as the obligation we have to love and to forgive as Christians. Jesus declared in John 15:13,
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Many times we like the idea of such love, but when we learn that the sacrificial price required for such love is forgiveness granted to the person who hurt us– we balk. For those who claim Christ as their Savior, loving is not optional. In fact, as we accept the loving sacrifice Christ imparted to us, we are called to extend His gift of love to all who cross our path. Be they family, friend, neighbor or enemy Jesus commands us:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12
Jesus also said in Matthew 5:44,
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . .”
There have been seasons in my own life when I have been hurt by someone I cared about and vowed, “This is it, I’m not going to put up with that person any more!” Initially it felt good to wrap myself up in the warmth of justifying my anger and hurt. But that seeming warmth soon turned to a chilling air of deadness in my soul, causing me to run back to my Savior in repentance for my foolishness. There is a piece of wisdom from Isaiah 30: 15-22 that has been been a help to me as well as many of my clients. (I encourage you to check it out on your own!) It says in part,
“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (Verses 20-22)
Those times when we are tempted to make personal idols of our hurt or disappointment must be confessed and let go of. The good news about God’s requirement to love even our enemies, is that we are not called to do it in our own strength. In fact, we can’t! No, it is the love and strength of Christ we receive in our grieving that we then extend to others–friend or foe.
All to His Glory!