I was listening to K-Love yesterday, and the morning show was having listeners call in and fill in the blank: True love is _______. The wheels of my mind started spinning, and I couldn’t help but bring this thought to my blog. This will be a series of short posts about some rather unconventional ides of what true love is.
The messy side of love
When I think of the truest, purest love ever shown to anyone, I think of Jesus’ love for us. However, I don’t think of Jesus and me walking on the beach pouring our hearts out to each other. I don’t imagine myself looking into his eyes as we talk about all the things we love about each other. I’d venture to say that’s not what you think of either.
The most perfect love ever shown was not romantic or glamorous; it was ugly and messy. It was a naked body, torn to pieces, being held to a cross by nails in the hands and feet. It was a flawless Creator hanging on a cross at the mercy of his creation, struggling just to take a breath, yet using that precious oxygen to breathe out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV).
If you’ve been through something traumatic, you’ve seen the messy side of love. It doesn’t fit our idea of what love is supposed to look like; it doesn’t feel like love. It’s hard, raw, and unappealing. Our modern day “chick flicks” have cheapened love to romantic gestures that lead to endless ecstasy and climactic sex. But what about the wife who, every day, helplessly watches her husband die of cancer? Or the guy who lost his job and is working three jobs to support his family? Or the man who was in the military, trying to support his family but going through severe PTSD and is now doing all he can to get the help he needs so he can be the loving husband and father he knows he should be? From the outside looking in we might think the love and sacrifice of these scenarios are so romantic, but trials are much easier to romanticize than endure.
True love is messy. It wades through the valley of suffering with a friend. It forgives the unforgivable offender. It rolls up its sleeves and fights for a greater cause, facing adversity with courage because of its commitment to relationship. It acknowledges hard truths and endures conflict that would be easier to avoid.
I love an inspiring story; one that gives me hope, but let’s face it, the most inspiring stories we know involved someone being hurt very deeply and choosing to endure the messy side of love. We want their end result without all the mess in the middle. But the fact is: love gets messy.
Love is easy when everything is going well, but when the passion and feelings are stripped away, and you have to choose to love; that’s true love. That’s the love Jesus showed for us when he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) He chose to love us when the feelings weren’t there. He chose to embrace the messy side of love.
Maybe you’ve experienced the messy side of love, and you’d like to share your thoughts; I’d love to hear them.