She’s gone tonight. I miss her. Funny. She’s never with me when I write anyway–not even in the next room. I write most nights from my office next door. Even so, tonight I know that she’s not there. And, I wish she were.
This evening, a friend of ours went to the local emergency room, having noticed that her blood pressure was steadily rising all day. The Lovely Lady, finding that her friend was alone there, quite naturally dropped what she was doing to be with her. It’s what we do. And, by we, I mean we human beings. Our lives are tied up in our relationships with others, just as they should be. When family and friends are in pain, we suffer with them. When they know rejoicing, we celebrate right alongside. That part, I understand.
What I don’t get is–Why? Why do we open ourselves up to hurt when we don’t have to? Our potential for pain is multiplied every time we form a new relationship. In fact, we are guaranteed that in every relationship we develop, pain and sorrow is a given. We do it anyway.
I remember hearing a few years ago about Jeremy Camp, a Christian singer, who married a young woman with ovarian cancer. She was going through chemotherapy during their engagement. They both knew that there was a strong potential for the cancer to take her life. It did. Four months after they were married.
I still don’t get it.
Eyes wide open, they–as we all do–walked right into a union which was virtually guaranteed to lead to pain. Why do I say we all do? Surely we’ve figured it out by now. Their union would end in sorrow much more quickly than most, but the simple truth is that all earthly unions are going to end that way. “Until death do us part.” There are no fairy tale endings. No one lives–here–happily ever after. No one.
So, I pose the question again. Why? I would like to tell you that I have a really deep answer, a solution to this dilemma which will knock your socks off with its brilliance. I don’t. I only have one word to explain this puzzle. And still, I don’t really understand it. But, there is this one word.
Not that stomach-churning sickly-sweet stuff that romantic novels regurgitate, based on looks and animal attraction–not even the weird portrayal that Hollywood pumps out, here this morning and gone this afternoon, centered primarily around sex and self-serving narcissism. Those don’t describe love at all; they’re a pale imitation, a shadow of the genuine article. To hear them tell it, love lasts as long as there’s a handsome pay-off. If there is ever a personal cost, it is clearly time to ditch the relationship and find another.
Chicken soup and fluffed pillows kind of love. Sleep lost in the emergency room kind of love. Casserole dinners and babysitting the neighbor’s kids kind of love. Weeping quietly with a bereaved widow, or father, or son kind of love. There are so many ways in which true love is manifested that it would be impossible to begin to list them all. But, every one of them has to do with giving of ourselves, and not one of them has to do with demanding what we want.
I want there to be fairy tale endings. I want a happily ever after. It ain’t gonna happen. So, I’ll take love. I’m guessing that, as we consider it, we’ll realize that this is exactly how it’s supposed to work. Jesus himself came, knowing that He would experience sadness, and adversity, and pain. He also knew that He would experience love while He walked this soil. And all the while, He was demonstrating what love was really capable of.
Can I say this? Sharing pain and sorrow with others is a gift. Sharing joy with them is also a gift. But, in teaching us to bear each other’s burdens, love is able to accomplish what it was always intended to do–help us to know true joy.
It’s not happily ever after. It’s better. You see, our steps may falter, our eyes grow dim, but love endures. We may have shaky hands and ears that no longer hear so well, but love is stronger still. There will be sadness and pain. We can face all of them because of a love that calls us to serve and to be faithful.
I’ll take love.
“There will be a day with no more tears,
No more pain and no more fears…
There will be a day.”
(Jeremy Camp~American Christian singer/songwriter)
“And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva.”
(“The Princess Bride”~American movie~1987)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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