To Love is to Hurt

to love is to hurt

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” CS Lewis – The Four Loves


It’s Sunday night and the house is dark and quiet. A cool breeze is coming in from the open window and watchful cats curl up on the window ledge, nocturnal beasts carefully observing an outside that they will never reach.

It has been a full weekend. Reconnecting with friends through visiting, playing games, and a long walk by the rocky coast. A Pentecost service, remembering that day so many years ago when the Holy Spirit, like tongues of fire, came down. My dad’s 88th birthday and me absent from this momentous occasion, the result of a life lived far away from those you love. A manuscript delivered in the mail on Friday evening, opened today, and reviewed with fear and trembling. And a long talk with two of our children, both home from college for the summer.

It all crashed down on me well after I was supposed to be in bed and asleep. Despite the full, glorious weekend, I’m caught in a vice-like grip of worry for those I love. Crashing against a tired body was a tired heart, a heart lost in tears that quickly dried in the cool breeze, only to come again with more force.

And it came to me again, like it has thousands of times in the past, to love is to hurt. To love my kids is to hurt for their pain, to rage at some of their choices, to delight in their successes, to weep at their tragedies. To love my adopted country means to weep that a group of terrorists brutally attacked the airport, killing and wounding many. To love means to get tired from caring, to feel weary from listening. To love is to hurt.

But I have known in the past what an ice-cold heart feels like, the numb apathy that accompanies it, and I will pick this pain any time, every time. Because this pain is proof that my heart is alive, alive with God-given feeling. This pain is proof that my life is full, full of people and places that I love. This pain is proof that I desperately need God, God to reach through pain and worry with a promise of redemption. Because to love is to hurt.

Stacy is away from Dubai this week, visiting Houston. She says this about today’s muffins: “I’ve made cinnamon and brown sugar muffins for tomorrow’s post, using buttermilk and melted butter, so they are extra moist and delicious. Bonus: The house smells terrific!” Head here for the recipe for Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttermilk Muffins. To love is to make people muffins!

Picture Credit –


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27 thoughts on “To Love is to Hurt

  1. How true! Graduation weekend is over here, and soon my kids will go far away. My heart hurts…which means I am alive and in tune with reality, but…


  2. There are moments, though, when I am tired of hurting, tired that love hurts, and very briefly, want to quit the life I’ve chosen (as if that would help!). Sometimes all the uncertainty makes me feel like I’m in an earthquake, keep looking for stable ground, never finding any. And realizing, maybe my stability isn’t supposed to be in people or places anyway, maybe I’ve got it wrong, it’s supposed to be in God. Now that is not very comforting when someone ELSE tells me that, but it seems to be much more comforting when God Himself whispers it. Funny how people just can’t substitute for God’s voice sometimes.


    1. I love how you say this: “people just can’t substitute for God’s voice sometimes” –it’s true. What comes from others often sounds trite and insincere. What comes from God, quietly, gently, in the dark of the night, sounds true and substantive. I agree with you it’s funny….!


    2. Yeah – I think of Jobs friends. When you think about it, some truth was spoken but it was Nothing compared to God’s voice speaking. I think about the stability piece as well – and then I think about how culturally defined that is. What is real stability in life? While I think it’s important, has our culture made a god of stability? A stable income, a stable retirement, a stable job…..just some things to ponder.


      1. Your comment about seeking stability reminded me of a session I went to last fall at a missions conference. And it’s not quite related, so bear with me. This college student had done some research with a professor on TCKs. They did this big survey (I’m thinking about 1000 adult tcks?) and in it, a big part of what came out was that tcks substitute friends for family. Meaning, the place family “should” be in their lives, friends became. TCKs put all their emotional stock in friendships, and less in family. The presenter, at least, thought this was not good, that family should be the rock for tcks.
        Tonight, though, I went to a graduation service, and the valedictorian talked about how as tcks, they can’t find their home in places, they have to find it in people, in relationships. Then she went on to say how our true home is our relationship with God. Got me thinking. Is our home in relationships? Is that supposed to be? Just like you were asking whether we are even supposed to have stability. Are home and stability the same thing? I think I interchange them sometimes and am not sure if they are interchangeable. I don’t know what’s right or who’s right, just thinking out loud.


  3. I’m learning to get comfortable with messy life, unresolved less than perfect things, learning it doesn’t scare God, that he has factored my human error in his design of me and had designed me to withstand everything that life will throw at me. Despite me feeling the contrary. I wonder if I will ever learn to trust him properly or whether it grows only degree by degree.


    1. Oh I love this Sophie. Love it. That he has factored my “human error in his design of me” this is an amazing way to put it. Thank you. And I wonder the same thing about trust.


  4. Yes, Marilyn, muffins and tea! Someone long ago said to me, out of her own hurt, “When your kids are little they step on your toes. Then they grow up and step on your heart.” And I just read an email from a friend we knew in Mass. who moved away, same time we did. She is very concerned about potentially serious health problems of an adult daughter. Along with reminding her that she can’t fix any of it, the Lord also reminded her of His words, “I make all things new.”
    We missed you at Dad’s birthday, but look forward to your visit next week.


  5. I’m with you in the choice for love, even with its unavoidable pain. To choose otherwise means missing the magnificence of love incarnate in all those we love here and in the love that faith demonstrates to each one of us. And at the end of the day, how could we ever protect ourselves from pain, even if we tried not to love? Isn’t there pain in avoiding love? Love will always be stronger than pain and be the healing balm that soothes. Loved this post!


    1. The paradox and seeming contradiction in this (to love is to hurt; to not love is to also hurt) contributes to the mystery of this maddening life! We were created to love and to be loved. It’s painful but true!


  6. oh my. the quote on ALO FB page and then this post??? perfect timing. and i mean perfect like i was formulating a lamenting complaint to a loved one that may have been shared at an inopportune time when the doorbell rang and that person went to answer it so i spun around in my chair with a huff and my eyes landed on “to love its to hurt”. dadgummit. that’s some kind of perfect timing. … and my favorite C.S. Lewis quote nonetheless.

    i would very much like to sit with you and some yummy caffeinated beverages to talk about this season of the “ice-cold heart …the numb apathy that accompanies it” and how you came out of that. links appreciated if any exist. i feel as though i am sitting in a freezer of dispassionate indifference. atrophied emotions make for apathetic efforts.

    just last night i wrote in my journal: love hurts.

    to know that this divine serendipitous intervention came to me on the wave of the internet at just the right time shows me that i am not lost. God spoke through you to me. i know hope is not lost either.


    1. I saw myself all over this comment Angie – and I would love to have a caffeinated drink with you, and have time stand still so we could talk and cry and laugh. For me it’s the head/heart disconnect. The head knows all the verses, the stuff i’m supposed to do, ad nauseam. But when I try and connect the head with the heart – well it’s hard to connect something that is covered in ice. For me I realized a couple of things about ice – a frozen heart thinks it has a market on pain. I thought my pain was like no other. No one had suffered like me. A frozen heart takes a long time to melt, My frozen heart couldn’t parent properly. I had nothing to give. It was such a process, a painful process to allow the spirit of God to melt my icy heart. And nothing else would. Only the breath of the spirit of God. So resources, I don’t have. But my understanding and empathy – that I have in spades. Stay tuned for an email and I love you. – And if I, who don’t even know you in person, love you – how much more so does God, who knows your frame, who understands your heart, who breathes into you life, slowly, imperceptibly, but faithfully.


      1. There are other things that numb the weary heart too, right? It’s not always pain….sometimes the heart is just plain old exhausted from yesteryear’s pain….sometimes the heart recoils at the prospect of effort and engagement (although I suppose that might be a fear of potential pain)….sometimes the long dark tunnel takes it’s toll and the heart longs for a nap of equal length and density…. I’m numb too these days…. but I’m not sure it has much to do with love….. too numb to suss this out!


      2. Robynn – yes – in fact that’s what I am struggling with now as well. And sometimes the numbness is protective, because we can’t stop and analyze. We need to just keep going.


  7. Woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was the BBC alert on my iPad. Have been thinking and praying for you and for Pakistan all day.


      1. I have a student who is Korean – Pakistani, her name is Dua, she’s a second grader — every time I hear about Pakistan, I think of her and you I say a prayer. (Quite fitting!) We were talking about these days lately for Pakistan. Her father is in UAE these days and she doesn’t get to see him often so she knows all about longing for home. I told her about you, she said “I am glad your friend is also from Pakistan because if it’s in her heart, she belongs a part of there. ”


  8. Honestly, what is the matter with people?! How can they justify killing innocent people and attacking an airport? As long as I live, I will never understand it.

    What I do understand and completely agree with is “to love is to hurt.” I always say that worry is people who don’t know God because, when I find myself worrying, especially over my children or other family members, I do the only thing I can do in that circumstance, I pray. I don’t know how people without faith handle the stress of standing by and knowing they can’t do anything. At least I can pray!


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