The Hard Side of Love
LOVE WINS, LOVE AT all costs, eat pray and LOVE, or as the Beatles sang, LOVE is all you need. I don’t know about you, but I love the word love and I, like most people, want to agree with all of it as long as I'm on the receiving end. I have to admit that for me, love seems to have become a bit of a blur, a little lost word in the midst of a lot of noise with somewhat fuzzy edges. Or, there are times when I think love has become more like a license: I have it, so I can. As I reflect, I think, is LOVE truly so powerful that it needs nothing else? I’m not so sure, but I sure like the way it sounds.
We recently acquired a device that converts our old family videos into a digital format. As I was watching these absolutely darling videos of our then very young children (indulge me, they are my children after all), I was thinking about the years we spent raising them. I am sure that if you were to ask any of our sons about our different parenting styles, they would say that mom parented from the heart, and dad was driven by principle. Translated: when mom said something, there was a good chance you could get her to change her mind; with dad, not so much. Reflecting on our differing parenting styles, I realized now how grateful I am that my husband was a bit of a hard ass. He had the rare ability to operate from the place of love and truth; I often landed in the place that I interpreted as love, which amounted more to giving in than anything else. If I am honest, I was often just too tired to fight. What my husband believed and practiced was that he was raising our sons to be men, not boys, and he knew that love without boundaries could not build men of character.
I recently saw this in action with our now grown sons. Our middle son was getting married and six weeks before the wedding his old Volvo blew a head gasket. As he was telling us about this, I could feel that familiar feeling that occurs in the pit of my stomach whenever there is any kind of crisis or pain in my children's lives. It's that heart sinking protective feeling of love. I so desperately wanted to rescue. I knew how financially strapped this sweet young couple was. I so wanted to show my "love" and say, "Oh honey, we’ll pay for it." I have become a little better at pausing before I speak so I whisper to my husband, "Should we pay?" He nods a firm no. He proceeds to speak words of love and encouragement to our son and helps him formulate a plan that will allow the Volvo to live another 200,000 miles. We hang up the phone and he turns to me and says, "We have to let him be a man; it is even more important now that he will have a wife." I recognize the wisdom in this and see the love that this decision required. There is a hard side of love that allows you to move beyond the immediate need into the greater good.
I reflect on a quote by Warren Wiersbe , "Love without truth is hypocrisy and truth without love is brutality." As I ponder these words, it is easy to recognize why truth without love is brutality. But the "love without truth is hypocrisy" part requires a bit of mental wrestling . It seems to stand in direct opposition to "love is all we need." Maybe truth is the structure that allows love to flourish and deepest love always requires a kind of hard sacrifice, a laying down of self, a discomfort. I'm not sure it is ever easy or cheap. If it is, perhaps it is not love at all.
The good news is, that Peter did fix his Volvo by himself for about $600. He learned a lot in the process including how interesting a junkyard can be and by the way, the wedding was beautiful.