True Love Hurts

True love hurts. It always must hurt. It has to be painful to love someone; painful to leave him, you would like to die for him. When people marry, the have to give up everything in order to love each other. A mother who gives life to a child suffers much. The word ‘love’ is misunderstood and misused so much.
— Bl. Mother Teresa | Quoted in YOUCAT

This quote by Bl. Mother Teresa struck me to the core recently when I saw it. I have been reflecting on the meaning of love lately, and today, I’m going to share with you some insights.

Many of us seem to have the idea of love that it is fluffy and cute. I’m not sure where this idea comes from, but more than likely it comes from the movies we watch and the messages from the world. Yes, there are times when love is fluffy and cute (I can definitely testify to this!), but more often than not, love hurts.

Many a married person will tell you that marriage and family life is actually quite painful.  This is because to truly love means to be vulnerable and to put your heart on the line.

Have you heard of this story about St. Catherine of Siena?

St. Catherine of Siena once had a vision that God was offering her several crosses, some light, others heavy.  She wanted to please God, so she selected the heaviest. “No,” said the Jesus, “that one is not for you.  It is reserved for married couples.”  

Love is painful because it helps us to turn outward beyond ourselves. To put aside our wants, needs and desires for the good of the other. To be clear, when I say that love is painful, I am not referring to relationships that are abusive and destructive.  This type of pain can be detrimental to our well-being and can cause deep wounds. The painful love I am referring to is a pain that helps us exercise our heart muscles.

I have learned about the meaning of love through my own mother. In her lifetime, she saw her own father, sister and aunt diagnosed with cancer. Each and every time I watched as she helped each family member bathe, get around the house, and run errands. She was there wiping their wounds as each one of them took their last breath. She spoke about the deep pain in her heart as she shared in their suffering. About her own sister, she once said: “It hurts me so much to see her like this. Loving someone isn't smooth sailing. I never imagined that I would have to help her change her diaper everyday as an adult and flip her over every hour because of bedsores. But I do it and I don’t mind it—because I love her.”

Love, my friends, has its sleeves rolled up, boots in the dirt and sweat on the forehead. True love asks much of us, seemingly impossible things: helping a family member through an illness that requires our constant care, helping a friend overcome an addiction over and over and over again,  or giving birth to a child.

Henri Nouwen said, “If we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving.”

Sister, are you willing to take a risk? To be vulnerable for true love?

To read another great perspective on love, check out this post by Emma Brown:

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one…Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
— C.S. Lewis