Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Challenge of Love

I'm going to throw this out there: loving someone is hard. 

I know, epic new thought, right?

Of course I always knew that love wasn't like the fairy tales, that prince charming didn't come and sweep you off your feet with a song and a ride into happily ever after. I knew that it was harder than the movies depicted, but I still kind of thought that real love would be entirely blissful and lovely and there would always be a twinkle in the eye and dancing in the kitchen (I do watch a lot of romcoms, let's be honest).

It's just been over the last few months that I have learned the true nature about love and let me tell you, it is oh so different than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, loving someone is one of the most beautiful, challenging, rewarding, and humbling experiences of my life. I will always choose love, no matter how hard it is. To love is wonderful but to love is to be challenged, much more than I originally realized

So here is what I have learned about love in the past few months. Maybe it will help you, maybe it won't, but here we go. I'm sure it will change and grow as time progresses but for now these are my new understandings of the fairy tale:

1. Loving someone is a constant challenge to oneself. As we combine our lives with another we actually have to deal with all of our baggage, with our past, with our selfishness and our priorities, and that's not always fun. I like to be in control, to be in charge of my life, and I don't like being told what to do- a relationship can't function if one person always has to be in control. Over these months my whole life has shifted from "me" to "us" and man, that is quite the transition. It is no longer all about what I want. Now I have to compromise, to give in, to put his needs and wants above my own. It is what I want to do because he is my best friend, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard to let go of my selfishness.

2. Loving someone is extremely humbling. It would be so much easier to deny all of my own issues, claim my perfection, and walk away to wait for someone who thinks that I am practically perfect in every way, but let's be honest I probably wouldn't like that either. Loving someone is humbling because there is so much to learn about the other and I have to make an effort to consciously respond to what I learn, to ebb and flow with the tides of new understanding. Sometimes I feel like I am terrible at love, like I am completely inadequate and everyone else must know some secret that I don't. But then I come back to grace, compassion, to the reminder that we are both imperfect people coming together to rely completely on God's goodness and guidance. Thank goodness God works with us and through us. Refinement by fire hurts, but oh my it is so good to grow and become better.

3. Loving someone is about letting go. For me it isn't just about loving Cameron. A lot of the same things apply in loving the kids I work with. Because I love them I want to fix everything. I want things to be perfect between us. I want to be respected and I want to say the perfect thing every time. But that isn't how love works. Love works by doing my best and trusting God with the rest. Love works by being willing to give my hopes and dreams for the people I care about to God, to not try to control but to give, receive, and let God hold each of them in His arms instead of trying to hold them all in my own. I can't be perfect, but God's love is perfect and thank goodness I can rely on that.

Loving someone is hard, but it is a beautiful kind of difficult. It is one of the most wonderful things I have experienced. It continually turns me to Christ as I am shown love I don't deserve. It helps me to more fully understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It challenges me to love the way that He loves us- sacrificially, humbly, with sincerity and purpose.

Love isn't like the fairy tales, but it is a story all its own and everybody's story is different. It is a beautiful flow of conflict and resolution, of words spoken and dwelt upon, it is the moments of laughing in the grocery store and buying flowers and struggling with plans for the present and the future. It is so different than what I imagined, but I wouldn't change it for the world.



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