Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Is Your Love Really Tough?

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Have you ever been either the recipient or the giver of tough love?

When most of us use this phrase, we picture a love that is confrontational. We imagine being forced to deliver a dose of truth to blind eyes. We use words that are blunt. Words that are sharp. Words that hurt.

Tough love can be telling a friend that they are an idiot for considering cheating on their spouse. Tough love can be telling a friend that they have a drug or alcohol problem and need help. Tough love can be telling a friend they are making a fool out of themselves.

And thank God for friends who are willing to tell us such things.

When our relationships lead us to this type of interaction, it can be tough indeed.

But perhaps confrontation isn’t the toughest thing love can demand of us.

Loving someone is one of the hardest things anyone can attempt to do. We all know the world is full of broken hearts.

Love becomes particularly tough when we want something out of someone and we can’t get it. And this is the point at which many relationships break down. This is often the point when we revert to a confrontational tough love.

Not when the other person needs confrontation, but when we want them to change.

When we don’t like what we see. When we believe they are wrong. When their life is filled with something we deem inappropriate or immoral.

If you look up the definition of “tough” you might be surprised about what it means.

strong and durable; not easily broken or cut, capable of great endurance

Can the love you offer be described in this way?

Is your love strong and durable?

Is it easily broken, or does it remain steady despite the things that threaten the relationship?

Does your love endure? Or does it depend on the actions or behavior of others?

Perhaps at times, our love will require confrontation. But perhaps we resort to this type of love because it is less tough on us than a love that gives? That is patient and kind? A love that endures all things?

Maybe the toughest type of love is one that endures through difficult times. Maybe tough love is one that gives even if it never receives in return.

Tough love is more about loving someone as they are instead of demanding they become someone different. (Tweet that)

Mother Teresa had this to say about love.

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

The best type of love we can offer isn’t necessarily tough on the recipient. Instead it is tough on us.

Have you known “tough love?”

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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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6 Replies

  1. deborah foxworth

    WOW, this is the bestest explanation of real love, tough or otherwise ! and any
    way is the phrase “tough love” in the Bible? or is it something we have invented to bear down on others. Seems to me that real love is mostly tough on the lover not the lovee . Christ is our example for sure. His love for us was tough on Himself which can draw us to follow Him instead of going our own way.

  2. Sabine

    I like the definition of tough!
    Yes, tough love is not to run away when things get… tough and to stand by just because we chose to love.
    Thank you for this great post Jeremy!

  3. judy Douglass

    Thanks, Jeremy. I have an online ministry called Prayer for Prodigals. This is a much needed approach to tough love for the prodigal lovers community. Thanks.

  4. That’s sounds like a great ministry, and the most important part might be this kind of tough love.

  5. Isn’t great when someone stands by us. And how tough it must be. If only I could offer that kind of toughness for others more often.

  6. I agree. I think we made it up to justify our actions. It is much easier to demand people change than it is to let God change them.

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