I once heard someone pray, thanking God that Love is such a joy. That it is something that comes with no pain.
I'm afraid I have to disagree.
I find that there is pain involved in loving. It is a risky business. When you actively love someone, you are offering them a piece of your heart. There is no guarantee that this will be valued for the pure gold that it is. Or that the love will be returned through people.
Sometimes I look around at all the people around me, and I feel such love in my heart, it can be overwhelming. It's hard to know what to do with it, because for one thing, I don't always know the best way to express it, and secondly, not everyone wants to be on the receiving end.
Someone said 'a relationship will only progress to the depth of the person who wants it least.' So true, unfortunately. The same person said that God cannot take lonleliness away, only people can. It is my eternal, lonely frustration that I desire to love deeply from the heart and to visit and know the hearts of those whom I love deeply. But rarely do many of those people have the time or inclination to go there - or perhaps the courage to take such a risk. Said with no trace of self-pity, for I honestly know that other people have many things in their lives to give their time, energy and love to. Their families for one thing! And that of course is right.
But there are huge temptations and accusations that then kick in. It can feel that this love I feel towards others is not reciprocated in any obvious way - at least not in any way that leads us to engage or relate as friends. Then comes the double-edged NETM sword of accusation. NETM = Not enough/too much.
The thinking can go that I am not enough - not engaging enough, not interesting enough, not clever enough, not spiritual enough - just wholly at some level I don't understand, not good enough to bother with.
Or maybe I am too much - too emotional, too demanding, too intense, too high maintenance, too confusing, too prickly, too complicated - altogether too much trouble to bother with.
This inability to deeply connect with others is one of the biggest pains in my heart.
And yet I know God gives me the choice of whether to love. But to 'not love' would be to kill my heart or at least to shut it down. And if I shut it down, it does not just become closed to people, but to God as well. As I cannot do without Him, so then love - however inexpressible or unreturned - has to remain. I will continue to love, and cry into the carpet on the days when it is so painful.
You only need to look at Jesus to see the truth of this lived out – so much love He gave which was not returned. He is the image of the invisible God, who looks out with huge compassionate love upon so many who simply turn away. They have such a distorted image of who He is that they believe He is not enough for them. Or else He is too much - too demanding. They see Him as a taker, when He is really a giver. He will not force Himself on anyone, so the eternal Christ hangs on the cross with arms flung wide and heart exposed, pouring out love in His very blood, to all. To those who recieve it and to those who don't. Like me, He is longing for relationship with those He loves. But only He knows the measure of pain that fills His heart as time after time people turn away, even in hatred of Him, just as they crucified Him all those years ago. My pain can only be a dull reflection of His, as my love is also a poor imitation.
There is comfort in knowing He understands. That He has been there, and still is. Truely. There is comfort in that.
But there is also pain.
The pain of loving.
(all this reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s story ‘The Happy Prince’ – do you know it?)