I don’t even know where to start.
I’ve gone through ten or more opening lines for this post, but none of them carry the weight that is in my heart.
In fact, I don’t think that words can articulate everything. Especially what isn’t tangible.
Love is on my mind tonight. The love a parent has for their child. The love that can exist between complete strangers. Love that suffers and is kind. Love that struggles and grows strong. Giddy, passionate love. Admiring love.
I’ve felt all of these. And I’ve felt the love of God.
But one lesson I’m learning the hard way right now is that love is not a feeling. Or a choice.
It is something more.
I’ve been told for many years by many folks wiser than me that love is a choice. Or love is a gift. And love is sacrifice and giving and a multitude of other positive things.
But, what about when love is ugly? Unfair? Broken and rejected?
Something happened at the beginning of this month. Something awful. Terrifying. Crushing.
The event did not happen directly to me. A very damaging act was committed by one of my close relatives that badly hurt others. And now, the lives of many have changed drastically as a result.
(I am being purposely ambiguous. The details of this event are not for me to share in a blog post. Victims exist that have a right to their privacy and experience of this event. I won’t compromise their recovery for the sake of being more detailed. Just know this, it is a bad, bad thing that happened, and while God certainly stopped it from being an even bigger tragedy, it does not eliminate the ferocity with which one person’s choice altered the lives of so many others.)
So at this point, you’re probably starting to wonder what love has to do with it?
While I could take this chance to explode all over the Internet with my intellect and vocabulary and experience and expertise on the subjects of mental health and obsessive desire, this post is not about that.
This post is about me.
This post is about what I can’t escape.
This post is about a scary, terrifying, broken kind of love.
Bonds of love between two people cannot be reduced to a feeling or a choice. I’ve tried to logically order my feelings. I’ve tried to carefully be in control of my heart and mind. I’ve tried to tie myself to a chair and declare loudly that I am FREE.
Did that paragraph make much sense?
It didn’t to me. But it’s a small glimpse into how I feel.
I love the person in my family that committed this tragic act. I love them.
Not because I want to. Because, honestly, I don’t.
Not because I choose to. Because for real, I keep trying to choose otherwise.
Not because of how I feel. Because, at this moment, I am incapable of putting my feelings into something as paltry as words.
No. This love hurts. And not in a good way.
It hurts in a very human way.
This love is finite, fickle, and sometimes damaging. This love has broken me down, made me feel small, and shattered my heart repeatedly. This love has not been healthy or whole or constant. This love has changed and wavered and shifted based on circumstances.
I realized tonight while crying for yet another moment in the future that will be lost to me and my children because of this person’s choices that this love is real.
I cannot turn my head and pretend otherwise. I cannot push it down and hope it fades with time.
I can, however, praise God for it.
Because it means that I’m His.
Because it means that He is at work in me.
Because it means that I am human. And He is not.
I am at the mercy of this short life. I am smack dab in the middle of living something real and fallen and hopeless.
Apart from Christ.
Apart from a love that is ugly and beautiful. A love that sacrifices with jealousy. A love that takes what is broken and puts it together again. A love that cannot be reduced to words.
Because this love is not simply an action or a feeling or a choice.
His Love is a person.
A human being.
And His love is life changing. Eternal.
Jesus, thank you for love. And for knowing exactly what it means.