I hear of yet another example of failing love - yet another relationship gone cold, of marital happiness now dead. It seems as though I've heard this storyline a lot recently. This dying love, this secret-keeping, this withholding appears to be everywhere, and I find myself asking questions: whatever happened to love being for the long haul? Does a truly loving life exist anymore? In a world of broken relationships, can real love endure? One sometimes doubts it...
Somehow we've lost what it means to truly love. In searching out the highest example of it, God Himself, we realize that our expectations for love are so false. We expect love to be in sync with our feelings, but it isn't always so. Sometimes, love is loving against our feelings and knowing that, in time, our emotions will catch up to our commitment. We expect love to be equal - a 50-50 share in the relationship. But love is often unequal. There are times when the love we demonstrate is minimally returned, if at all. Especially when someone is hurting, it becomes even harder for them to return that love. God's love isn't equal to ours. He demonstrates limitless love to us, and we return it in such small measure. Are we surprised, then, when we receive the same? True love endures. no. matter. what. So often we give each other an out. With God and with one another, we think that when the going gets rough, when the love grows cold, that's the time to quit.
But what if we realized that these moments of suffering are really the crucible for love! What if we knew that love would grow stronger, would run deeper, because we chose to endure! Paul E. Miller writes in A Loving Life:
" You can't flee the crucible. Love will not grow if you check out and give in to the
seductive call of bitterness and cynicism - or seek comfort elsewhere. We have to
hang in there with the story that God has permitted in our lives. As we endure, as
we keep showing up for life when it makes no sense, we learn to love, and God
shows up too."
Could this be true? Could this be the thing that so many people miss? How fleeting is human love! It can be so self-centered, so harmful. It takes an act of the Divine-love to be able to love differently, to endure the aforementioned "crucible." God must teach us how to love. To learn opposite love. Love that originates with the One who created it in the first place. God never quits on us or stops loving us. He keep showing up, even when we fail to love Him back. Opposite love, unequal love, is true love. Once we get ourselves out of the center, once we kill these false expectations about each other and God, perhaps we will get somewhere. Perhaps, were we willing to understand and to learn, we might discover that a loving life does exist. In a world of broken relationships, real love can, and will, endure.