I’ve said it before, but recently my ideas and thoughts about love have been put to the test and I think (and hope) I’m coming out stronger because of it.
Love is not a fairy tale, just look at the life of Jesus. He was born in the lowliest of conditions, He grew up in quiet, suffered rejection and persecution most of His adult life and was beaten, mocked and spat upon as He poured out His life for us. That, my dear friends, is no fairy tale, but it is the story of True Love. The story of True Love.
Love, true love, means that we give without hope of return. Love, as I’ve said before, is not an investment. To love means to submit to love, to be filled first and foremost with His love. Filled with His love we are challenged to love as He loves, even when it hurts, even when we are rejected, even when those who we love seem to or actually turn away from us and the love we have for them. True love never dies, it never fails and it never fades. Love is a choice, a choice Christ made with each step He took in His life and each step He took on the road to Calvary.
When we go to Mass we see just how intensely His love is poured out for us as He invites us to receive His body and blood in the Eucharist. The same love that He pours out for us is the same love we are challenged and invited to show our brothers and sisters. Loving those who love us is easy, Scripture tells us that even the pagans can do that. Loving those who hate us, who reject us, who break our hearts, that is the real test of love. Will we keep loving those who hurt us? Those who we lose contact with? Those who reject our love? Those who refuse to acknowledge the depth of our love for them? Will we continue to not only love those people in our hearts but to show them love with our actions, with our words and with the way we treat them? I’ve come to realize that perhaps this is the truest test of love, to love when it isn’t returned. I’m not talking about unrequited love here, I’m talking about loving every one, no matter how difficult it may be to love them. Love really means loving when all we want to do is run away, yell at someone or hurt them in the same way we feel they have hurt us. True love comes into our hearts when we ask Him to. But He doesn’t just come make His home in our hearts and call it good, He makes His home in our hearts and challenges us to love others the same way He loves us, unconditionally and without reserve or regard to how it makes the other person feel. Jesus loves us whether we want Him to or not and He challenges us to love our brothers and sisters in the same way, whether they want to accept His love for them through us or not.
I’ve often said that any idiot can face a crisis. True heroes – real men and real women – arise in the day to day situations by loving with an unbridled love when it is not demanded or required of them. Realize that with love, beautiful and wonderful as it is, comes suffering. Mark Hart said, “If love were only about feelings, Jesus would have been hugged to death for our redemption. With true love comes suffering.” Jesus showed us that love would not be easy, but He also showed us that it would be worth it. True love, the kind that only God can fill our hearts with, brings about our redemption. True love is the ticket to Heaven (that and God’s grace and mercy).
Love comes when we ask Him to, but He comes with more love than we can bear or keep to ourselves. He comes with love to share, so today and everyday, share that love. Share it with the people who’ve hurt you. Share it with the person you’d like to yell at more than anything. Share it with the person who won’t look you in the eye. Share it with whoever God puts in your path. Love is meant to be shared, openly, honestly, and freely. Accept His gift of love, then share it.
The more I meditate on what love really means the more I come back a question I’ve been asking for years: Is there anything in world more difficult or harder than love? It is love that leads Jesus to the cross, it is love under which Jesus falls three times, and it is love upon which Jesus dies. I should think there is nothing in all the world so trying as love, to love unconditionally and to love without fear.
There may be nothing more trying in the world than to love unconditionally and love without fear, but I’m also convinced that there is nothing in the world more rewarding and joyous than to love with such a deep and abiding love.
What I’m Listening To:
“What Love Really Means” by JJ Heller
“Pray” by Dierks Bentley
“Love Them Like Jesus” by Casting Crowns
“All Creatures of Our God and King” by David Crowder Band