I used to hear the word and I'd see red roses and hands holding each other close. Leaning in to catch the whispers, to hear the silent loving.
A family spending time, reading adventure stories together on a big brown leather couch - everyone sinking down into it, into loving.
Now I hear the word and I'm all confused
because I've had this notion of loving for so long.
I've known what it should look like... I thought.
But I had never thought about feeling it.
And what I've felt of love the past six months doesn't match the picture frames in my head.
And I feel pain. And I see nothing.
Maybe withered rose petals and the adventure stories abandoned.
And soon it'll be February and the picture frames will be living frames all around me, and I'll be confused again. Mind's eye and mind's pain never lining up.
And it isn't just love in one sense or for one person. If it was I could make sense of it.
If there was deep love and it was unrequited and the pain left searing I could understand that.
But it's not one instance. It's the very notion. The frames in my head spinning and shattering under the weight of the pain in my heart, and I think it's all trying to tell me what's real.
Love is real, and pain is real, and love is real full of real pain.
And it's in the definition.
"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
-1 John 4:10
My frames were of my own making and I got it all wrong.
I see red roses and He sees wood stained red with the love-blood of the Holy One, and I see leaning in close to hear the silent loving and He sees kneeling down to wash filthy feet on the eve of the execution.
I see adventure stories and He sees the greatest love story ever told, and I see sinking into comfort while He stumbles exhausted under the crosspiece and sinks mutilated beyond recognition into a clammy grave.
And He's using this pain as the tutor that will instruct me in true loving. In wiping their tears and crying my own, in carrying the crossbeam for the weary oppressed, in standing in resolute brokenness on the promise of resurrection glory coming.
And it hurts.
But it's in the definition.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
-1 John 4:11
It doesn't change, and every time we see the word we need to reset our frames.
I've been praying for His heart, and He's giving it, but it feels so different than anything I've ever known. This loving is nothing like the world's loving - in fact, it feels like the exact opposite. But what's true isn't what feels good. He is Truth. And I trust that He's working in grace to build frames of truth inside of me, and inside of all the true pain love-blood redeemed.