Love is Pain—But You Can Still Move On

image credit: irenekly

Love is one of the fiercest battlefields.

We find someone and connect with him or her, and often begin to build our lives around each other in such a way that either leads to a commitment of marriage, a devastating breakup, or a combination of the two.

Most of our ideas about life come under attack when we get into love. What we believe or who we think we are put to the test. Because of proximity to another person, there’s something inescapable about allowing that person to see who you really are and likewise, to see who that person really is.

Even when a commitment of marriage is made, getting to know someone else intimately is a daunting task. Stanley Hauerwas describes it like this:

“The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”

All is fair in love and war, they say. But what happens when love is not the cause of a personal war, but it’s the channel through which pain is unintentionally introduced?

When Love Turns Into Pain

I recently heard an amazing story on Love and Radio podcast. A young couple faced a critical moment in their relationship. They were madly in love, shared an apartment, spent every moment together, and seemed to have no obligations but to each other. However, the relationship began to change when the young man’s health deteriorated. He lost weight and lost hair. She gained weight and looked only sad and defeated. As the man grew more sick, he rarely left the bed. The romance seemed dead.

It was probably cancer. Yet the woman didn’t leave the sickly man. The young lovers, though carefree and unwearied by the world, didn’t dissolve their relationship because of the man’s sickness. She watched him die in that bed, bold and bravely remaining by his side even when she could have run away.

After the loss of a boyfriend, most of us would expect her to spiral downward. Yet in those moments, through sitting in grief and silence, she seemed to emerge into a new chapter with new resolve.

The woman got a job, one that required her to get up early and do something with her life. She spent more time with friends, doing yoga on the rooftop, seeking stability and peace that seem to have escaped her grasp. Day by day, after saying goodbye to her lover, she still took one step at a time.

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The Purpose Of Your Pain

We can challenge the pain we’re feeling and dare to move forward anyway.

We don’t need to avoid conflict, but move through it. Our bravery can overcome our fears, one choice at a time.

It reminds me of a quote from an article I read about the purpose in our pain:

“Our character is most effectively shaped by adversity. It has been through my own childhood abuse, depression, and other struggles that God has taught me humility, trust, and faith. It was through painful experiences that He unseated my pride, and my own hurt has been the dirt for compassion to grow.” – Cookie Cawthon

The conflicts we face are the best ways for us to see how we need to change. That resistance is a scalpel God uses to cut away the cancers that we cling to. Until we begin to see the value of facing conflict and learning from it, we’re not going to become the kind of people we’re designed to be.

Adversity Is Not The Problem

Adversity is not what holds us back; our unwillingness to deal with adversity is. (tweet that)

You don’t have to run away from pain or fear. The cancers and divorces and lost jobs and lost loves will not keep you from living a great life. You can live a great life by accepting the challenges and taking a step forward despite them.

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What is one challenge you’ve faced because of love?

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Learn more about my book, which explores relationships that help us grow and learning to embrace conflict. Subscribe to updates here.

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