Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ~Paul to the Romans
Some of us, with our smiles and nice words and lofty ideals, deserve Oscars for pretending to love. When it’s easy or the people are lovable or we’re feeling generous or even when it’s strangers, we can show a ramped up version of kindness and forgiveness and grace. But so often, as soon as it’s hard or sticky, the ugly truth of our pretend love bubbles to the surface.
In the face of suffering, we avoid.
In the midst of pain, we hide.
When relationships grow stormy, we run.
When we’ve been wronged (real or perceived) we withhold forgiveness.
Instead of seeking reconciliation when we hurt others, we defend ourselves.
When resentment and misunderstanding come knocking, we open the door wide open and invite the bitterness to take a seat.
When personalities and ideas collide, we write people off.
When loving becomes messy or inconvenient, we bail.
Instead of putting others first and doing the hard work of real love, we ignore, retreat, deny, fight, and look out for our own interests.
We make every situation about us, forgetting that we don’t live in a vacuum. People need us and the real love we have to offer. But instead [sometimes-when we feel like it] they get a watered down, wishy-washy version of tolerant affection or indifference instead of hard-core, unconditional, no holds barred, do whatever it takes, real love.
Real love that stays…
real love that speaks hard Truth even when it’s risky…
real love that fights for the best…
real love that chooses sticking it out over burning bridges…
real love that looks beyond differences to embrace the heart.
Real self sacrificial love hurts. It means providing relief to someone else without worrying about your own suffering. It means bringing comfort to another even when it disturbs your own peace. It means swallowing your pride and extending an olive branch. It means turning the other cheek when persecuted. It means your heart is vulnerable. It means you open yourself up to the full force of grief and loss, pain and suffering as well as the unparalleled joy of unity and kinship.
Real love means trusting God to provide for your needs so you can be His provision for someone else’s.
Now, sitting bedside, while my frail, precious mom in law prepares to leave this world, the full force real love washes over me like a tidal wave.
There’s no pretend love in a Hospice room.
There’s no pretend love as children confront an alcoholic parent.
There’s no pretend love when mom’s and dad’s fight for their wayward children.
There’s no pretend love caring for the lost, lonely and destitute in places no one sees.
There’s no pretend love when people sacrifice time energy and money to encourage and support you when life sucks.
There’s no pretend Love hanging on a cross and suffering for the sins of ingrates like me.
Real Love is beautiful and sacred and painful, all at the same time.
Real Love captures your body, mind and soul and transforms your heart.
Real Love makes it possible to say “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”