As Advent begins, I am pondering love. We all want it, and we all think we give it, to our friends and family, and sometimes even strangers. But what happens when those we love the most reject our love? They might not say, “I don’t love you,” but sometimes their actions and words convey that message.
How do we cope with the failures of those in position to encourage and lift us up? Fathers, mothers, siblings, pastors, best friends. It seems to hurt the most when special people let us down. A kind word, holding in criticism, an offer of help…they could do so much if they’d just do their job.
Mercifully, love is not transactional. If it were, we wouldn’t be receiving much at all. God, who is love, has shown us by the gift of Christ that love is to be lavished on the undeserving. Loving is not a job, it’s simply opening our hearts. Even when it hurts. Because next time it could be us failing to love our best friend the way we should. It could be us harshly criticizing a sister for something minor. It could be us manipulating our children to perform the way we want them to perform.
A segment of the Mixtec people in Mexico speak the Yoloxochitl dialect. They have no Bible in their language, but All Nations Bible Translation, supported by Christian Aid Ministries, is working to provide one. Missionaries studying the language have discovered beautiful simplicities in the Yoloxochitl dialect. Love is translated “hurting heart.” John 3:16 literally means, “God’s heart hurt, seeing the people of this world…”
We aren’t the first to hurt for those we love. God set the standard by His willingness to hurt for us so much, He sent His only Son to bring us life. And what did Jesus teach us by His life? Forgive those who hurt us. When someone strikes us, we don’t strike back. When someone is in need, we give.
Ann Voskamp writes in The Broken Way, “Love isn’t about feeling good about others; love is ultimately being willing to suffer for others…The only way to avoid brokenness is to avoid love.”
We love most when we forgive someone who has broken our heart. When we know we love them more than ourselves, and our hurt feelings.
Yes, love has to hurt this much. It’s the only way to let love in. Our broken hearts will break us free and open us to more of God’s love.
How do you cope with hurt from those you love?