These past few weeks, I have been pondering and entertaining my own perceptions of love that have been a part of my own 50+ years of journeying on this earth. Here’s what I have so far: Love is
- a feeling
- an action
- saying “I am sorry”
- accepting another’s apology
- being silent
One thing I know for certain about love is that LOVE is incredibly complicated. It has many different facets and depending on where I am and who I am with, “it” can look really different. Let me tell you what I mean…
Opening old wounds
Have you ever experienced having a heart-wound unexpectedly exposed in front of another human being? And the absolute and only thing you want to do is run away as fast as you can?
When we experience a deep wound being exposed like that, there’s the opportunity for two things: there’s the potential of the wound being further infected OR the wound has the potential of being more deeply healed.
A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to sit with a man and woman I deeply treasure. As I sat with them, I saw two things, first, there was an intense love that was fiercely pursuing the other and the second thing I saw was that this love was dangerously close to destroying. Well, wounds were opened and very much exposed and those two individuals, in that moment, were given a choice.
This man and this woman sitting in front of me could have stormed out of the room, mad at one another, while justifiably holding their own story and their own truth to protect them from having to “hear” the words of the other.
But something else happened instead. I witnessed an incredible act of love when one of them chose to lay down a long held false identity and risked letting in the words of another that held the power to begin healing this wounded identity.
As she looked up and received words of God’s love for her, love took the form
- of words spoken
- of not running away
- of laying down self-protection
- of vulnerability to another…
The Holy mud-pit of LOVE
Scripture talks about three different kinds of love – one of which is agape. As N. Gordon Cosby says, “Agape love is the power to love the unlovable. It is the power to love people we do not like… we are not told to love in order to win our enemies or to get results…” instead this kind of love gets into the arena, experiences the messiness, engages and lets go of the outcome.
Love is a messy arena – like mud wrestling messy, getting down, sliding around, feeling stuck, falling over. If we choose to stay on the sidelines, there will only be a small splattering and we also will miss out on the (rather surprising) beneficial property that mud has to exfoliate when it gets washed off.
This sacred exchange between my friends that day was a holy mud-pit of love. The potential for healing was there if the other chose to step into the messiness.
Do I really want to love well?
I readily admit that I often just want to clean up the messiness of love, but yesterday, as I was cleaning up from a very full weekend, I couldn’t help but pause for a moment at the table where my two dear friends encountered one another in this holy mud-pit kind of a way. Just as I was cleaning and gathering up remnant crumbs from our dinner together, I couldn’t help but be touched again by the remnants of beauty that the messiness of love had left behind.
Do I really want to love well? If I want to love like Jesus does, it will include getting into the arena and letting the messiness of love transform me.
Where do you love’s messiness around you? Does it have the power to transform?