Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Love Until it Hurts

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Whenever I tell my kids I love them, I try to show them how much.

I try by telling them that I would do anything for them. I would go to the ends of the world. And back again. I will always be there for them. I will hold back nothing I have. I will give them everything I am.

But their imaginations are too simple. They would be content with me giving them a present or a bath. Or reading Curious George before going to bed. Or buying ice cream. But my love is so much more.

So I try by telling them I will never stop loving them, no matter what they do. But the worst they can imagine is getting a bad grade on a math test or spilling the milk. But I know there will come a time when they do something they will be afraid for me to find out.

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photo by Taj Campbell

So I try by telling them I love them with my whole heart. And I spread my arms as wide as I can. The biggest I can be, which to them at that moment, seems the biggest thing in the world. But I know my arms do not stretch wide enough.

But these are merely words. An attempt to solidify that which is intangible and abstract. Nothing will speak louder than my actions. Especially loving them until it hurts me. Because at some point, love always hurts.

And I don’t mean that love always hurts because it results in a break-up. In estrangement. Or in me being disappointed by them. I say love always hurts because to truly love, I will have to die to me.

I tend to stop loving others when love inconveniences me. When loving someone forces me into a place I don’t want to be. When loving someone demands I clean up some mess I didn’t make. When love will cost me more than I intended to give. When loving someone demands that I step into a messy situation that I have purposefully spent a lifetime trying to avoid.

And especially when I try to love someone who doesn’t love me back.

Mother Teresa experienced this kind of hurt. The kind that comes only when we love with our arms wide open. She had this to say from her own experience:

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

When our love fails, we tend to blame the recipient. We wish they would receive what we have to offer. We wish they were more lovable. But this statement teaches us something different.

If we fail to love it is because of our fear of the hurt that will come when we offer love. (Tweet that)

In the moment, Mother Teresa’s paradox is hard for me to understand. When my love is pushed and challenged, the last thing I want to do is love more.

And while these moments, these tests of love can be painful, the hurt is temporary. The hurt is short-lived, relatively speaking. The hurt will eventually dissipate once we decide the person we choose to love is worth dying for, and then we choose to die to ourselves. Even our feelings of hurt.

If we push past what we feel, if we let go of our own expectations of others, and love them in spite of ourselves, then we can learn to love even more.

Have you ever loved until it hurt?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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