Family Life

#1: Love Is Hard, and…

Lessons from a Long Year

On lengthy Worrall road trips, the fight for radio control is real. We usually feature worship music in the mornings. But sometime around our first bathroom break, the battle begins.

Peter switches over to sports—especially since the Women’s World Cup is happening, and both England and the USA are doing decently.

Daryl and Amelia beg for a kids’ station whenever they tire of their backseat shenanigans.

And—truth be told—much of the time, I crave a bit of silence more than anything. I am not above begging myself: “Can we please turn it off for a little while?”

One week ago Monday, on our marathon drive day from West Virginia to Illinois, we had plenty of hours for everyone enjoy his/her preference for a designated period.

So, around about dinner time—as we were cruising across Indiana—we were also listening to the SiriusXM station, Kids Place Live. In the middle of the show “Live from the Monkey House,” a movie ad came on.

I don’t remember what movie was being advertised, but in the featured clip, one character said to another (in a dramatically inspirational voice): “May love always be easy!” It had the ring of a wedding toast or something. And the music swelled.

“What?!” I blurted out. “That’s ridiculous!”

I think I startled Peter. He hadn’t been paying attention. He was probably reviewing World Cup plays in his head.

“What?” he asked.

“That movie ad,” I explained. “Didn’t you hear it? The character said, ‘May love always be easy!’ What a terrible message to be feeding our kids.”

Peter agreed, of course. But I wasn’t finished.

I switched off the radio and addressed the backseat. “Did you hear that movie ad, kids?” I asked, eyeing both of them in the rearview mirror. “The character said, ‘May love always be easy!’ What do you think about that?”  

“It’s ridiculous!” Daryl said. Good man. He’d been listening. “Mom, can you turn it back on?”

“Not yet,” I pressed. “You’re right, Daryl. It is ridiculous. But why?”

“Because love isn’t easy!” Amelia shouted, not wanting to be outdone by her brother. “Love is hard!”

And so, I give you this little nugget as the first of several lessons that we Worralls have learned this year.

Love is hard.

Of course, this isn’t rocket science, and it certainly isn’t a new lesson for Peter and me. We were both taught this principle as kids. We each gave the truth a good testing as young adults. And in our almost-twenty years of marriage, we’ve loved our way through our share of tough stuff.

But this year, I believe, we have learned this lesson in new ways yet again, and we have watched our kids grow in their understanding of this simple, but all-important, truth as well.

Love is hard.

It’s especially hard in the face of fear. When the future is uncertain. When you must call on supernatural courage to carry you through.

Love is hard when the one you love is hurting. When that person needs you in new ways. When you feel ill-prepared and inadequate for the task.

Love is hard when you have drastically different ideas. When the one you love doesn’t understand your decisions. When you’re full of doubt yourself.

In a myriad of ways—far too many to count or explain…

Love. Is. Hard.

But as important as that truth is, it is not the end of this lesson. In fact, it is just the beginning.

Because—contrary to so much of our cultural messaging and our creaturely cravings for comfort—when something is hard, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.

That’s why that little coordinating conjunction is so critical. We must hold these truths in tension.

Love is hard, AND

Love is refining.

Love is life-giving.

Love is transformative.

Love is rewarding.

Love is patient and kind and humble and truthful and forgiving.

Love is demonstrated and displayed to us daily—all over the place—by our God.

Love is commanded. In fact, it is the greatest commandment given to humankind. If you are going to do one thing with your life—let it be love. Love the Lord your God with every fiber of your being…and love other people in the same ways that you love yourself.

Love isn’t a fabulous feeling. It isn’t something we fall into and out of on accident.

Love is carefully cultivated.

Love is the daily, hourly, relentless, sacrificial choice to act on another person’s behalf.

No, love is anything but easy.

AND…it is so, so good.

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