Tough as nails
“Love is not warm and fuzzy or sweet and sticky. Real love is tough as nails. It’s having your heart ripped out, putting it back together, and the next day, offering it back to the same world that just tore it up.” – Glennon Doyle Melton
Very few writers are able to cut through the muck and tell it straight better than Glennon, and she is right on target here. It’s one reason we all struggle so much. We are sold an overly-sentimental hearts-and-flowers image of what love is supposed to be, and then we get disappointed or even devastated when reality turns out to be quite different.
Have you ever noticed that it’s the people we care about most who also are the source of our deepest sorrows? We may have to watch them suffer from illness, or stay beside them through their struggles with anger, addiction, anxiety or depression. We may find ourselves the unintentional object of their frustration and fear. They may wound us, leave us or nag at us until life becomes miserable. And we may burden them with the same sorts of sorrows.
I don’t believe there is wisdom in having a victim mentality, but I do believe that love often chooses to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things” (as stated in I Corinthians 13, NKJV). Those of us who have friends and family who go back for years and years with us can look back and see many times when we had to bear with them, or they with us. In fact, those times aren’t exceptions; often they are every day. They are what love looks like in real life.
It isn’t just the ones closest to us who hurt us, of course. The world can be a cruel place, and it’s difficult to keep getting up every day and choosing to love no matter what. But the alternative is ultimately more difficult, and ends in destruction.
There’s nothing wrong with sentiment. It’s delightful, like whipped cream on top of hot chocolate. But it’s an extra, not the substance. I love romantic surprises and sweet cards and kind words and smiley faces (have you noticed that?) and I would never want to be without those charms that decorate our everyday world. But I know I can’t expect a never-ending stream of them, from anyone, no more than I can manage to give others such happiness constantly.
We build our lives as if we are building lovely earthly homes, customized and adorned with all that we cherish. But regardless of the superficial decor, we all know that the unseen foundation needs to be rock solid, tough as nails, able to weather storms and catastrophes. I wish for you, and for all of us, the grace and faith to experience that sort of love every day, as both givers and receivers.
One year ago today: