Love is a funny thing that we write across each other. It's a strange drink that we drown ourselves in. Sometimes it's the best, most intoxicating thing ever and sometimes it smells like paint thinner and we drink it down in big gulps holding our noses and sometimes it's like a dog licking up antifreeze, it tastes so sweet as it kills dead.
We get funny ideas about love from media, from life. We watch all the lives rolling along next to our own. We see the lives that unwrap and touch our own. From all of these we learn and get ideas. Whether me mean to or not, these ideas sink into our heads, our hearts and color love in our lives.
Then if you're a Christian, you have an added layer of color to the idea of love. It gets more complicated. The Bible gives us a picture of a perfect love, given to us by a perfect God. Over and over in the Bible we read about how we are to strive for returning that perfect love, strive to give that perfect love to our friends, enemies, kids and spouses and in return, they (if Christians) should be striving to be giving that perfect love back to us.
That's good, but it's bad too. It's good because it's amazing for us to have a God that will love us to a depth and breath beyond our comprehension. It's good for us to belong to a God that loves us without condition through all our failings.
It's bad because as we try to live up to that kind of love for others, we fail. We put pressure on our selves to love in a way not possible. We put expectations on our relationships because our expectations of love received are beyond what can be had.
Part of this is really all just media hype. We've all read the romance novels and seen the movies. We all "know" what romance and true love is supposed to look like. We've all seen the specials on the perfect parents and read the feature articles in the parenting magazines. Even in the Bible we get great pictures of perfect love between people, but I'm going to argue a bit here.
I'm going to argue it's a bit like Facebook. You only see the parts of a persons life that they show you. They may only post up the best moments of their lives or maybe just the worst heart ache moments, but never the whole truth.
Even in real life, you only know what people show you. You know how it is. You really do. When someone is coming over, you straighten up. You put on your best front, show your hospitality and friendliness. Or like when the house is total chaos and the phone rings, you pull out the sudden politeness and calm.
We do that with our ideas about love. We see what we want to see and not the whole picture. I see it a lot especially as a special needs parent. It's easy to look at other parents and "see" what they have or how easy it is. It's easy to long for that great relationship they have with their kids and mourn what you don't have. The same for marriages or friends.
The point is this. Love comes in a lot of different shapes and colors. It looks different for every single person and every single moment.
We waste so many moments of love, of actual real love, looking for love in another variation that we miss what we have. It doesn't take many of these misses to break it. Love is fragile, but even in it's frailty it has strength that can't be understood.
I see it in my fosters. I see it in my circles. Abused kids grow up. Sometimes they abuse, but often they grow up to be amazing people. Spouse abuse happens. In all these messy relationships, the love is still there.
And it's love that hopes. Here's the thing I mean. I see it a lot in my adult friends, I have a lot who have come out of abuse, all kinds of abuse, love still hopes. They know at this point in their lives what their families are like. They know what it was like when they were kids and how it's been for the last several decades of their lives. They know the likelihood of anything ever changing or getting better or ever being different and yet, love still hopes.
I see these adults still going back, time after time, offering up pieces of their lives, hoping for that moment of feeling that love their looking for, longing for and hoping that this time, this time will be different.
It's hard to watch. It's hard to stand by that and see the train wreck coming again and again. It's hard to step in and pick up the pieces over and over and over, but that's how it is, because love hopes. (And yes, hat tip to Miss Gigi for the phrase love hopes, I love you friend.)
And just this week I've listened to a friend offer up a piece of their life, literally saying to me, maybe if I give them(meaning family) this, they will see how much I love them and they'll be happy.
I tried my best to smile and nod and say maybe this time will be different, I hope it works out the way you want it to, but ... you know the past and you know what will most likely happen and ... and I offer out my heart to love them and pick up the pieces all over again when it's done.