“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”Rick Warren
No matter how safe we’ve lived, we all have a story or two or twenty of a time when love has hurt.
When a friend let go and moved on to a new phase of life…
When a relationship ended that you wanted so badly…
When an argument tore a friendship apart and you couldn’t fix it…
When a family member lashed out and you were just trying to love…
I have stories.
Some of them healed by time.
Some of them open and raw.
Some of them healed or healing, through hard work and forgiveness.
And I find myself pulling back at times, afraid to give words of encouragement or love or affirmation because they might be rejected…I might be rejected.
I spoke quietly that one night. We were walking down the streets of our city like we do so many nights and I whispered that it had become almost painful, our beautiful evening walks. Painful because of all the people we’d met who were running away from God and away from us because we loved them with His love.
It hurts to see the drug addict cross the street to avoid you…the one that you’ve bought clothes for and tried to help into rehab and prayed with over and over.
It hurts to see the friend pretend like everything is okay when you know they’re broken inside…the one you’ve prayed for and cried tears over and listened to for hours but they can’t see your love because you won’t compromise on the truth.
It hurts to walk the streets and see faces that you don’t know but know there are stories behind those faces…many of them lost and broken stories that would bring you to tears.
And I find myself pulling back…loving only the ones who are easy to love. But that’s not really love.
Because when you love where you’re sure of a return of love, you’re not really giving…you’re exchanging, you’re buying. But when you love, regardless of the return, regardless of what they might say or do to you, that’s giving love.
And giving without expectation will often hurt.
But I keep reminding myself…we are called to hard, painful love.
My husband loves so well. I’ve seen him give his best pair of sandals away and pull dollars out his wallet, but most of all I’ve seen him give time…a listening ear and words of wisdom and the offer of help and the love of time on his knees pouring out prayers for others. And I’ve seen the love in his eyes for the people he meets, and I’ve watched the pain surface when they hurt him in return.
And my heart has pulled tight and angry.
I want to fight for my husband because I know his heart and I know how generous he is with it. I know that though others might not see it, he’s crying before the Lord over them and bearing their burdens on his heart and I want to hold onto anger because they are causing him hurt.
But we are called to hard, painful love because that is how God has loved us.
He loved us by sending His Son from heaven to earth.
He loved us by allowing Himself to be beaten, abused, and murdered.
He loved us by giving us His righteousness in exchange for the punishment for our sins.
And in the face of His love, how can I stand so stingy with my love?
It’s a painful process.
It’s a daily process.
It’s a never-finished process.
But if I am worth it to God, and if others are worth it to God, then surely they should be worth it to me.