If we look at experiences that have caused us heartache and gut wrenching pain, through feelings of rejection, abandonment or grief, we would logically conclude that LOVE HURTS. Ask anyone who is in a recent break up, a divorce, a betrayal or a loss and they will tell you love hurts. I googled “love hurts”. The images that accompanied that search were painful to look through. I can relate with the pain in the images from my own past breakups, betrayals, and losses. It hurts to lose what was or what could have been. Love certainly seems to hurt.
“Love didn’t hurt you. Someone who doesn’t know how to love hurt you, and you confused the two.” –quote by Tony Gaskins posted on Facebook
This is so true. I have hurt others because I didn’t know how to love. Others have hurt me because they didn’t know how to love. In small ways it might have looked like being late, assuming instead of asking, being forgetful or not returning a text. In large ways it may have looked like breaking a promise, refusing to apologize, lying, holding a grudge or feeling justified to not extend my love. It’s true, not knowing how to love or be loved hurts.
Reading a few comments to Tony’s post, this one caught my eye, “It seems there are lot of people out there who don’t know how to love.” In His calm small voice I heard God whisper to me, “It breaks my heart that people are hurting others and themselves because they don’t know how to love. They are not understanding or believing WHO THEY ARE.” I’ m certain there would be a lot more of us loving and living whole heartedly if we understood and believed who we are!
Are we hurting other humans because we believe big fat lies that love hurts and that WHO WE ARE is something other than what God says we are?
If love hurts and God is love, does God hurt? Looking at the Old Testament in the bible we could certainly find cases where it appears God acts in unloving ways and thus love hurts. It appears that He is some kind of punisher waiting for us to break His law only to hurt us for doing so. If we believe love hurts or that God hurts, how could one ever love and trust God? But we have to read the whole book! The bible is a giant love story to us from God. Here are a couple points from this love story:
- Jesus came and died to reconnect us with God. What do unloving behaviors do that cause us pain? They push others away. They detach us from another. They are rejecting. God sent His one and only beloved son to die to reconnect us to Him. That is not hurt, that is intimacy. Any time we connect with another, especially deeply, that is intimacy. This kind of love connection is what most of us are seeking and longing.
- Jesus died to save us from sin. What is sin? Sin is anytime we act on our own out of fear, lack of trust, or selfishness which often hurt others. Most unloving behaviors come from fear. The opposite of love is not hate it is fear. When we fear we don’t trust. When we don’t trust, we act on our own to protect ourselves. Many, if not most of those behaviors, are unloving which disconnects us from others and God. God sent his only son to die for our sins, for our disconnecting ways! He did it so we would have abilities to connect and have loving relationships with Him and others.
- Jesus loved and trusted God yet was rejected, scorned and hung on a cross. How could that be love? Because 3 days later God raised him from death into the living Christ. Jesus’ death and resurrection is a great metaphor that love transforms. Love brings life. Love can heal even dead things in our life.
- In addition, the whole process of God sending and giving us His son to cleanse us of sin and reconnect us with Him, brought us the Holy Spirit. God’s love, while seemingly hurtful to Jesus, showed love most of us will never know, transformed Jesus into a healing, life giving love, and endowed us with even more connection with God through the Holy Spirit.
Everything that God did before Jesus came seems to be God’s way of helping us see how disconnected, unloving, fearful and untrusting of God we are, so that when He brought about this intimate, saving, transforming union, we might understand how much He LOVES US. Knowing WHO YOU ARE is knowing who God is. God is a heaping, huge, still trying to take it all in, hunk of love! Which means so are we.
We are in love and love is in us. If we believe love hurts what does that say about us? Are we just a bunch of hurting and hurtful people? YES, but not because of love, but because we don’t know how to love and we are not understanding and believing who we are and what we are capable of…and that hurts.
What we believe we will live out. If we believe love hurts or that God is hurtful, we will bring forth our natural human instinct to protect ourselves. This natural instinct can be reinforced and heightened by the environment we grew up in and experiences we’ve had. In human form if we believe love hurts we’ll become untrusting and guard ourselves against others. Spiritually, if we believe God Hurts, we will not trust God and we won’t believe that everything He is doing is for a good purpose or that He has a good purpose for us. Everything that goes wrong or is painful in our life, we will think that God is punishing us or teaching us a harsh lesson. In addition we inflict pain upon ourself, to escape the hurt of feeling unloved and unworthy by others, God or our self.
Here is a list of what may happen when we believe love hurts or God hurts. This is not an exhaustive list. All of these are out of fear and protection:
- We will trust only our self and not God or anyone else.
- We will push others away with unloving behavior avoiding connection.
- We will deny, avoid, or refuse to acknowledge that we need help or others.
- We will also deny, avoid and refuse transformation and connection with God.
- We will be selfish, defensive, lie, justify, judge, blame, shame, envy, criticize, retaliate, and compare.
- We will be ungrateful, jealous, angry, and unhappy.
- We will be suspicious and dismissing.
- We will live from a place of lack being greedy and gluttonous.
- We will be confused, lack passion, lack direction, and lack motivation.
- We will seclude and alienate our self from others.
- We will be anxious, depressed, and/or have suicidal thoughts.
- We will create idols. Idols are anything we put in God’s place to meet our need for love, acceptance, affection, and worthiness. Just to name a few, they can be a relationship, marriage, spouse, money, food, things, fame, sex, or recognition.
- We may form addictions or even mental illnesses (anorexia, cutting, delusions, and phobias come to mind) to either escape fear and pain or inflict more fear and pain over our unloving feelings towards our self, God, or life. (Not that all mental illnesses are formed by fear and the belief that love or God hurts, but well rounded treatment would include taking a look at one’s spiritual life.)
Since self-knowledge is one key to knowing WHO YOU ARE and living a whole hearted life, consider these questions:
- Who do you believe God is? Do you believe 100% that He is ALWAYS loving and working for good or are there times when you think the hard experiences that have come your way are a punishment or harsh lesson from God?
- Do you believe love casts out fear? When have you experienced that?
- Do you believe love can be transformative? What experience have you had to know this is true?
- What ways are you living out the belief that love hurts? What self protective behaviors do you engage in? When? With who? (Be brave and honest: look at the list above again and see if any of those self protective behaviors are active in your life, even in your mind.)
- How do you treat yourself? Do you love yourself?
I’ll admit, I didn’t need a book to list the above consequences of believing that love hurts or that God hurts. I’ve performed most of those fear based, protective behaviors outwardly and, if not outwardly, definitely in my mind. Only if we were loved completely as we needed by everyone we know and have known, would we escape the consequences of protective fear. We all have exhibited or acted upon those unloving behaviors in some form or fashion for very good reasons. Don’t berate yourself if you identify with some of the behaviors on the list. It is not pleasant to become mindful of our unloving ways but it is essential to living a whole hearted life. If you are seriously asking yourself question number 4, I know it will not be fun or easy. Let me give you some hope.
First, we are created in the likeness of God. (Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1), which means we are love and we are capable of great love for others, God, and our self. We are not naturally hurtful, unloving people. We are very much God-Like! We may have a natural instinct to protect our self, but who you are as a God created, loving being can become more of your “doing” and “being” with awareness and practice. Look at these quotes and let them sink in:
- We are most ourselves when we love; we are most the people of God when we love. To love we need to realize our unique identity as the people of God who love. (from the introduction to The Message Bible)
- We are love and we are made for love, and our natural abiding place is love. (Richard Rohr)
Second, sometimes I like to take GOD and LOVE and substitute them for each other when I come across a saying or scripture I like. Sometimes it gives me more clarity and truth about who God is. If you recall from last week’s post, knowing God is imperative to knowing and understanding WHO YOU ARE. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it can be enlightening.
- We are GOD and we are made for GOD, and our nature abiding place is GOD. (True!)
- GOD didn’t hurt you. Someone who doesn’t know how to GOD hurt you, and you confused the two. (I love it that GOD became a verb, an action word. It’s like saying, “I’m GODing today!” Gosh, what would that look like?)
Lastly, love does cast out all fear. Love does transform. Next week I’m going to talk about how that works in a very practical way. I’ll talk about how to bring your spiritual loving being into your human living. Stay tuned!
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave a comment or share one way you are going to “GOD” this week!