Love Don’t Make Things Nice

Today I helped to train forty YMCA staff members in child abuse prevention. We had to discuss the realities of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect. Immediately after that, I joined the leadership team to watch a surveillance video that captured the accidental drowning of a young child in a camp pool (not our pool) staffed with two lifeguards, a camp counselor and dozens of fellow campers – all who failed to notice the child floating in their midst for over six minutes.

After lunch, I comforted a friend who is grappling with the news that our mutual friend has decided to stop chemotherapy and then, I comforted a young staff woman who received a call that her father’s brain tumor is cancerous. Later, at the local coffee shop, I encountered a young woman whose friend has just returned from a missions trip with an agency reaching out to victims of sex trafficking. She told me that when her friend had reported a single story to a person interested in the work she did the person replied “I wish I hadn’t asked for any information.” In other words, “I don’t want to know this part of life.” Couldn’t even hear a story.

I fully intended to write an upbeat blog entry today. Something light. Something to make you smile and add to your comfort in these challenging times. But, that’s not what this is.

Today sounds like a heavy day but I don’t feel weighed down. Really, it was a very typical day of swimming in the deep end of life with God. I hear stories like these every day. Daily, I talk with someone dealing with deep pain, disappointment or woundedness on some level. I don’t feel weighed down because God carries the load of all I had to deal with today. Really. I feel weary but I am not unhappy because Jesus is with me through each encounter both to reach out to the other person and to hold my heart in His hands.

Peter wrote, in Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” To love others deeply is to enter into their lives, to risk our own hearts, to risk the pain of sharing their burdens, burdens that move us beyond our comfort zones.

There’s a line I love in the movie, Moonstruck. Ronny Cammareri says “Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.” I love that speech.

Jesus was always accused of loving the wrong people.

I believe in loving with reckless abandon. God’s love is lavish, relentless and costly. It cost Him everything. Loving others in His name means we will feel discomfort, fear, sadness that isn’t our sadness and pain that is not our pain.

Joy does not come from living in my comfort zone. Joy comes from joining Jesus in His work to further His kingdom on earth until He comes again. There is a Franciscan Benediction that says it better than I ever could:

May God bless you with discomfort,
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger,
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
My God bless you with tears,
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their
pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness,
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

There are people drowning right beside us in the pool. We should pay attention. We should notice. We should act. We should let our hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God.

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    The Conversation

  1. Andrea says:

    AMEN..loving with reckless abandon!! You got it girl…and it can be painful, but it is GOD’s way. Thank you for sharing!

  2. You’re welcome, Diane. There’s much pain in that reckless abandon, Andrea. But we’re looking forward to a place where there is no more pain!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My husband Monty & I have had this same sort of message about love placed on our hearts for the Young Adults in our community. Thank you for taking the time to explain it in such a way most everyone could understand – what a challenge! -Kate

  4. Welcome, Kate! It was my joy one night at the Y to talk with a woman who said she knew a “real Christian. A guy who actually lived out his faith.” She was remarking like she’d spotted a rare bird or some creature she’d thought was extinct. Turned out she was talking about Monty. God bless you both in your work. I will be praying for you!