Amidst Messy Relationships, Love Anyway

Love even when it seems difficult.

I tell my daughter driving in the car on the way to the store.

She tells me she doesn’t understand how I could continue to love someone even when they hurt me. Even when their words cut so deeply. Even when they chose to not love, and hit me in a primal place, I was unsure I would rise from.

“I don’t think I could ever love like that. So I don’t know how you do?”

I swallow hard…unsure how to answer her. Because to be honest it has not been easy. I have cried. Been so angry I want to return hurt for hurt. Never to forgive. Never to see that person ever again. Wanting to live in my bitterness because it feels good to hate…for a time.

“Jesus loved fully. Even when they drove nails into his hands. He chose to love when a friend betrayed him. His love empowers us to love.”

Jesus has always been for relationships.

She begins to number off all that times girls have hurt her. Girls can be so mean.

How in the world did relationships in the body of Christ become something we get to choose? Cutting people off if they do something we don’t like? When did Jesus say, “love only the people who love you?” When did he tell us we can turn our love on and off? When did relationships become more about ourselves than the hurting person in front of us?

How did our love become so sloppy?

When relationships become about personal gain, satisfying some personal lack, turning love on and off based on circumstances, refusing to forgive, —our love is artificial and powerless.

How can we love with His kind of love?

 “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness” 1 John 2:9.

Hate: not merely the absence of love but the presence, in ever so small a degree of, dislike.

Real love sometimes looks like getting in the pit with someone and crying when they are hurting.

Real love stands by a person in their darkest moments and sees them through to the other side.

Real love is based on His love, not their love.

Let’s be honest anybody can love when the circumstances are just right. When we allow Holy Spirit to move through us to comfort, sympathize, and nature, we begin to connect a deeper story.

“Why did she treat you like that when she loves Jesus?”

When our relationships in the church look just like the world’s we have a problem.

All I can say to her, “Hurting people, hurt people. She was hurting inside and hurt mommy.”

Looking into the eyes of this hardly ten-year-old girl, it’s about as crystal clear as it gets:

Our love better be deeply connected to our Savior, taking our hurt and wounds to the cross or we will love like the world, and then how will they see the gospel?

If Jesus hasn’t passionately wooed, you—your hurts will spill out around you. If you don’t forgive and let go of bitterness you will hurt others, even the ones you deeply love.

See I have not always loved like Him. I have made my fair share of mistakes, costing me relationships I held dear. I don’t want to get to the end of this life and see a trail of destruction.

I am actively learning, hoping to teach my daughter:  Unless Jesus has all your heart, we don’t want to love because our hearts will lead us astray.

Unless we see relationships as an opportunity to further the kingdom and to conform to His image, we will love from a place of brokenness and cause destruction.

Unless we forgive the people who hurt us, our bitterness will spill out and we will harm people.

Unless we allow the Lord to heal our hearts, stop constantly trying to protect ourselves, and choose not to control every detail, a supernatural love will never pierce through.

Christine Caine in her new book Unashamed says, “Sure we try to love him, but love from a broken heart is broken love. Love from a wounded soul is wounded love. Love from a tormented mind is tormented love. And this affects not only how we love God but how we love ourselves and our neighbor. As long as shame has a grip on our lives, to put it bluntly, our love is a mess.”

We all have been wounded at some point in our lives; it is what we choose to do with these wounds that define us.

Unless we let go of them, they will define who we are. 

Yes, it requires great sacrifice. But living from our wounds brings hurt upon hurt. Living from His wounds brings forth healing and freedom. A supernatural exchange begins to happen, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.

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