What Love Can Look Like

The other day I was talking with a friend about some profound ways I have seen people love… the kind of love that hurts, the kind when the cost seems too high, the kind that stands on the line between wise and crazy. 

As I considered this topic, I took a look around at stories I know. I thought about all the issues people have shared with me over the years. There are families with very real struggles including… 

clinical depression, 

aggressive tempers, 

substance abuse and codependence… 

personality disorders like bi-polar, 

narcissism, 

borderline… 

behavior conditions like 

anxiety, 

OCD, 

ADHD… 

eating disorders like obesity, 

anorexia, and 

bulimia. 

There are marriages with steep problems such as... 

workaholism, 

power struggles, 

lack of physical intimacy… 

verbal abuse, 

fraudulence with finances, 

pornography addiction… 

fanaticism, 

infidelity, and 

physical abuse. 

And many harm the people they live among — be it parent, sibling, spouse, or roommate — with emotional violence, such as... 

devaluing the other, 

withholding apologies or forgiveness, 

expressing disdain… 

behaving in ways that are controlling, 

neglecting the other’s needs, 

criticizing someone’s way of being… 

humiliating a person in front of others, 

abandoning another, 

and betraying one’s trust. 

I could put a name with every problem listed above. People indeed walk these miles. This brokenness is real. If in my small corner of life I have had this much familiarity with people suffering in all kinds of relationships, what does it say about the way love holds and lives among these struggles? 

We are less than the fullness of our dreams, it seems. This could be due to aspects of nature, nurture, free will, illness, or a combination. Yet the fact is such “lackings” hurt us all, regardless of whether you lack the love you want or you lack the ability to love better… or commonly both. These challenges and shortfalls reveal a significant part of what it means to be human. 

Perhaps we need to redefine what love can look like, from that which only brings you joy and comfort to that which can hold the brokenness before you. A love that isn’t just about one heart’s bliss, rather a love that counts all the heartbeats involved as a network of healing and growth. And this love may require intentional pruning, setting boundaries, patient wisdom, careful protection, or even departure if that prompting prayerfully arrives. All of these can be ways of loving. 

Love is creative and intelligent, and when we don’t resist its lead, it can start to fill our lacking spaces one way or another. The more I experience in life, the more my vision expands for what love can look like. 

May you be inspired!

Leave a comment

Add comment