The Mysterious Beautiful… Ache


... who walks with you?

A friend posted this on her facebook status recently:

“I walked a mile with Pleasure;/ She chatted all the way;/ But left me none the wiser/ For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,/ And ne’er a word said she;/ But, oh! The things I learned from her,/ When sorrow walked with me.” ~ Robert Browning Hamilton

So much truth in that poem.

In my own private journal, I’ve written of companions like these. Sorrow. Loneliness. Pain. And how they teach. I’ve even called them “companions” because their presence, of one, or another, or sometimes several, is pretty constant, teaching, and instructive.

And how it conforms.

And how it hurts when it does.

God’s hands, though, are gentle ones. He cradles the ache, transforms it. His ways are righteous. He is patient and kind.

Love does not seek its own, but rejoices in the truth.

Love.

It aches, doesn’t it, to love?

Without love, there would be no ache. There would be no ache of letting go, no ache of losing someone, no ache from someone’s death, no ache from loss, no ache from severed relationship, no ache from distance, no ache from illness…. it’s love… that’s why it hurts. So much. We love… we hurt.

When I was younger, I heard an expression: “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”

In my youth, I agreed.

As  I’ve gotten older, it is not so simple anymore. I still agree, deep down, I do. I know it’s true. We are called to love. And it is the better way, even though there is an ugly side. The aching side. The painful side. Our love could be thrown away. Cast aside. Used. Abused. Taken advantage of. Neglected. Forgotten. Unwanted. Rejected. Misunderstood. In our complicated adult lives, it is not so easy anymore. I know it wasn’t meant to be easy. Love isn’t easy. It is hard. It sure isn’t easy or comfortable or painless. Love aches deep.

But in the end, no matter what, boil it down, sift out all the other things, and it doesn’t change — we are called to love. And that often means losing.

Losing. Ourselves. Bit. by. bit.

We are called to be alone in so many ways and this is one of them. In many ways, love is a lonely journey. And it aches. It aches. It aches all the more because of those who are close to us. The path of love is a lonely journey in many respects, even with fellow pilgrims who are journeying along with us. Yes, when I give love, of course, I want to receive it back. But it often doesn’t happen like that.

I’m wondering if the norm is actually to get nothing back. If we happen to be loved back… then… is that a gift? How much can we truly expect, should we expect? So much of what we have is just a gift… just grace. Most of what we have, in fact, is grace. Anything good is grace. How much do I really deserve? I know what I deserve. Jesus took it for me on the cross. The death I deserve. He took. And it ached for him to go through that, but he loved and that ache he felt was a deep love for me, so I wouldn’t have to go through it myself. So he could draw me to himself. So I wouldn’t have to be alone.

And that is enough to make me stop and cry right now.

I do believe in the power of God’s love to overcome. Supersede. Forgive. Release. Rejoice. Remember. Nurture. Develop. Grow. Overcome. Give. Serve. Forget.

“Love makes it possible to believe the impossible.” — Anonymous.

Above is the quote I had chosen for my high school senior quote in the yearbook. I believed it then. I believe it now. Impossibilities can and do become realities in God’s economy. He specializes in impossibilities. And, love? Sometimes it, too, can seem impossible. To give. To receive. To believe in.

But with God, it is possible.

And it aches.

yes, it does. {Expect it to ache, dear friend}.

Because I know what love cost God.

I know what it costs me, and will continue to cost.

Love is a curious, mysterious, beautiful ache.

***

(edited from a recent post)

Linking with Imperfect Prose

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16 thoughts on “The Mysterious Beautiful… Ache

  1. i like that you acknowledge that love does cost…for it surely does…it is a risk as well, one in which we gamble bits of our heart in hopes it is received….but what other choice do we have?

  2. Life goes more smoothly when you write about flowers and beautiful things, but when you begin to expose lies, and abuse, our old enemy gets very angry. He does not enjoy exposure and two households experienced angry words – – over nothing much just did. Story #1 and story #3 were both under attack at: http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/. (Tell me a True Story) Things settle down, because Jesus is Lord – but we do realize we have an enemy.

  3. I had a friend who shared yesterday with us that she reads Ecclesiastes so much differently now after experiencing a season of loss and grief. She says that grief leads to wisdom — this is a truth she is experiencing first hand. — Your post echoes her thoughts for me. Obviously, God wants me to hear this this week. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi, Anna! Just dropping by to meet my new small group friend- and am so blessed already by your musings. Looking forward to getting to know you through SDG!

  5. Ohhh…so surprised to click on the friend and discover it’s me! :) Love is hard and deep and beautiful, and just this week, I thanked the Lord that in the very messy midst of hard is such aching joy. I once said, “I wouldn’t choose the hard, but I wouldn’t want to have missed it either.” Today, I’m somehow oddly grateful for the hard, for the mysterious and intimately, achingly beautiful blessings discovered only in these deep and winding valleys.

    Blessings, Anna!

    1. Hi friend! :) (This is a re-post from something I wrote just last month.)

      I love how you say it– exactly that– that last half of your comment: “I wouldn’t choose the hard, but I wouldn’t want to have missed it either.” Today, I’m somehow oddly grateful for the hard, for the mysterious and intimately, achingly beautiful blessings discovered only in these deep and winding valleys.”

      I get it. And you say it so beautifully.

  6. *nodding*

    Love is unstoppable, except in the beginning when we have to choose to love again, knowing the hurt and pain that may be unleashed in our hearts as a result. Yet for all the danger, love conquers all.

    Thanks for this!

  7. The quote reminds me of Hinds Feet on High Places.

    Yes, it does ache to love. And yes, it is complicated. But I’m thankful to know that it always has purpose. Praying for the Lord to use the aches to transform us more into his image.

    This is an important post. Thanks.

    1. I love that old book– haven’t read it in a long while– would be good to go back and do so.
      You are right– it aches, but it has a purpose… and transforms us into his likeness. Well said, and I agree.

  8. Oh my … Achingly beautiful. And then you bring it around to the most sacrificial kind of love known in the history of humankind … No greater love, is there?

    Thank you for linking.

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