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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