Why is it that we hurt so bad when we have to say goodbye? Why do we allow ourselves to become so attached to someone that separation from them results in actual physical symptoms? What is it about love that makes us enter into it in spite of our having full knowledge that it will invariably cause us pain at some point in our life? Whether it’s the sting of puppy-love gone awry or the deep sadness that comes with the pain of death, our falling in love, our cultivating love, will lead to sorrow, heartache, and pain.
Yet we choose to love anyway.
For those who know us, Bekah has been experiencing some medical issues since we lost Silas that have made us decide to return from Chile. Many of you also know that for this to work logistically, I have to stay in Chile to wrap up some loose ends while Bekah goes on to the United States. I just dropped Bekah off with her family, and as I write this I’m sitting out a two-hour delay in the Charlotte airport.
Clearly love and pain are fresh on my mind.
I don’t ask these questions regretfully. I wouldn’t trade anything for the life and love I’ve been given. I ask these questions of why out of a strong conviction that there is a reason that the joy and worthiness of love far outweigh the pain of separation and loss. Being separated from Bekah hurts, but the joy of loving her outshines the darkness of the distance. I believe it’s that way in all relationships where love is exchanged. It doesn’t matter in my opinion how short the experience of love or how profound the pain, love is always worth it.
For instance, losing our son Silas has been the most painful experience of my life, but the few moments of love I got to share with him, even though it were only while he was in Bekah’s womb, were worth it. I would not erase the pain if it meant I never got to love Silas in the first place.
Is that ridiculous? Maybe. I’m sure there are some who will say it is, but I got to shower my son with love for 8 wonderful months. And his response to my voice singing or preaching or his kicking my hand while we tried to go to sleep were his responses to that love. I wouldn’t undo that for anything, even to avoid pain.
In a certain way, the amount of pain we’re willing to endure is perhaps a sign of the depth of our love to begin with. The more we are willing to endure the more we are willing to love. I don’t know of a pain that would make me unwilling to love Bekah, or Silas.
John, in the Bible, tells us that this is how we know love, that Jesus first loved us. We all know the amount of pain that love entailed. It was a love defined by the amount of pain it was willing to endure. We know his love for us is perfect, because he suffered all.
And that is the love we are called to imitate, and more than imitate, to cultivate. Will we open ourselves to love so much that we are willing to hurt, and in spite of that pain enjoy the deepest love we could ever imagine?