Love Can Make You Sick.
All parents can relate to this. Your small child is sick. She feels hot on the forehead. She doesn’t look good. Then she loses her lunch all over the floor, getting some on her in the process. So what does love do? Love cleans her up, strokes her hair and comforts her. The problem is, I have a reaction to the smell of vomit—I join the action. Donna had the misfortune of being able to handle the smell without getting violently ill herself.
Love can make you sick.
This week I talked with several people who were really hurting. In their pain they were not pretty. They were angry, frustrated, scared, confused—and when someone was willing to listen all that pain spewed out. Some got on them. Some got on me. Fortunately, I didn’t have the same physical response.
Hurting people aren’t always easy to be with. Loving them can be hard. Awkward. Even painful.
Sometimes, when we’re around people who are hurting, we want to get away. They lost someone. They’re getting a divorce. They got laid off.
If we see them coming we turn around. If we see their name on caller id we don’t answer. It isn’t because we hate them, or even don’t like them. It’s because we aren’t sure we can love them. Because loving can be hard. Awkward. Painful.
We can’t always change that, but we can change our response to it.
The thing is, as a dad, even when loving my kids literally made me sick, I loved them. I cleaned them up, and cleaned up after them (if Donna wasn’t thereJ). No smell, no ugliness of illness could dent my commitment to them. Love is stronger than that.
It’s ok to feel awkward around someone, but we can still stand by them. It’s ok to be confused–even to feel pain with another–but we can still tell them we care, even if we don’t have magic words to make the hurt go away. In the long run, it isn’t our words that make a difference. It’s our willingness to be with someone.
I wonder how Jesus feels. Do I make him sick sometimes? Probably. That’s how I know we can love even if we don’t feel like it.
Jesus’ love is stronger than mine. No matter what I do. No matter how smelly I am. No matter how ugly, it doesn’t change his love. It’s stronger than that. It’s stronger than my ugliness. It always will be.