Tough Love

One time, my friend and I were strolling past vast, lush pastures and admiring the speckled horses and whinnying at the horses and soaking in the sunshine and inhaling the sweet aroma of rain-washed grass when he said:

“So do you believe that I’m going to Hell?”

This was back in America and to my memory, I don’t think I gave him a straight answer.  It was a yes-or-no question but it was such a scary moment for me that I think I gave a convoluted response.  I’ll admit, this was in an effort to make me, and my faith, seem ‘agreeable.’  But, in retrospect, what love was I showing when I trivialized the Gospel and was ultimately dishonest about the reality of Jesus drawing a line in the sand?  And yet still, if I had said ‘yes,’ it would have felt harsh, it would have felt tough. How do you reconcile?

I theorize that ‘tough love’ may be the truest form of love possible.  When you allow yourself to be the bearer of bad news, the friend-zoner, the discipliner, the seemingly-unloving individual, perhaps you are showing love to a person by not cheating them from the truth, especially at the expense of your reputation.

I have a tendency to think that love is interested, per se, in making me happy. Love tends to be personified all the time – nearly like how it is in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Love is patient, love is kind…’  But with that said, I feel like love is what it is regardless of what you like.  It can make you happy but it’s not interested in making you happy.  ‘Love is just,’ it takes you out of darkness and delivers you from evil.  I mean, that’s what God does and God IS love.  But God doesn’t exist to make you happy.  After all, He wasn’t made for us, we were made for Him.

I constantly have to remind myself of all of this.  Even when I articulate these ideas in my brain, there’s a traffic jam on its way to my behavior.  I like saying yes to things, I like painted, happy pictures.  But ultimately, I have to keep reminding myself that love, ‘tough love,’ is always honest.  If something is false and deceitful, then obviously it is the opposite of love.

One time, I admitted to another one of my non-Christian friends that I feel scared sometimes to tell people that I’m Christian.

“What are you scared of?” she asked.

“Ah you know,” I said, “people thinking I’m close-minded.”

Even as I said it, I heard how shallow and self-focused it was.  God doesn’t want us to worry about what others think of us.

My friend responded with, “The only thing you should be afraid of is being dishonest.”

It was a refreshing thing to hear, especially from someone who’s not Christian.  I think my non-Christian friends are very capable of (perhaps indirectly) encouraging me to stay strong in my faith.

Anyways, any thoughts?  Should love always make you happy?


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