Saturday, May 14, 2005

Tough Love

Remember “tough love”? What a misnomer. That'’s the only kind of love there is. As much as we would like to think otherwise, real love isn'’t birthed over candlelight dinners and valentines. That’s romance and its wonderful, but we make a mistake when we confuse it with love, because real love is birthed in the bitter places of life, between the rock and the hard place. Real love is what keeps one hanging in there when it appears there is absolutely nothing in it for self. Real love goes the distance. It endures loneliness, suffering, betrayal, misunderstanding and persecution. It does what is right for the other person, regardless of the cost to self or reputation. It really does bear all things.

I Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

6 comments:

David said...

angevoix,

Thank you for your comments. Praise God that you were blessed by the words He has given me to write. As time goes by, I'm sure we will build each other up as in 1 Thess. 5:11~Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
This entry on love and the one on prayer are excellent, driven by His Holy Spirit (not an "it").
How did you happen onto my blog?

voixdange said...

I make a point of randomly looking at other people's blogs, just to see what is out there, and to also offer an encouraging word. I have been surprised at how few out of the hundreds I have seen have a Christian focus. Perhaps only about four are really seriously devoted to being an inspirational site, rather than just a personal journal. Thank you for your encouragement. I really consider this a mission field.

Constantine said...

Hello Angevoix. I came across your Blog via Fr. Neo’s. Your post invokes a subject that I wrestle with often. On occasion “tough love” as popularly conceived is necessary. But when I think of the notion as a whole and from whom it is often espoused it gives me pause. The definition that rings true comes from 1 Cor 13: 4 – 8. Love is patient, love is kind…(see also Jas 3:17 and Col 3:12 – 14). It’s hard to read “tough love” as it is often equated into these verses. The idea of “tough love” in many circles sets the stage for violence (btw, I’m no Casper Milquetoast). I made the comment some time back on Fr. Neo’s Blog that love is not an attribute of God, i.e. omnipotence, immutability, aseity, et al, but His very essence. It triumphs all else. It’s my general observation that people of the “believing” ilk get nervous when love is not lumped together with parity among the other divine attributes. Their image of God would have to change and folks get a tad uncomfortable with that prospect (a high Christology would not have to change but rather how that view plays out in history). Of course, the real test is the Gandhi imperative that you quoted earlier, which alas shows me for what I am--a miserable failure at following Christ and his Way. Thanks for allowing me to think out loud. I like your Blog.

Here's a parting quote from a very conservative Roman Catholic, Peter Kreeft, with whom I’d have some disagreement, but I like his starting point: “Without qualification, without ifs, ands, or buts, God's word tells us, straight as a left jab, that love is the greatest thing there is (1 Cor 13: 13). Scripture never says God is justice or beauty or righteousness, though he is just and beautiful and righteous. But “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). Love is God's essence, his whole being. Everything in him is love. Even his justice is love. Paul identifies “the justice of God” in Romans 1: 17 with the most unjust event in all history, deicide, the crucifixion, for that was God's great act of love.”

voixdange said...

Thank you for your comments.I'm glad that you enjoyed my blog. Although I used the phrase "Tough love", I wouldn't ever want anyone to misinterpret that as something that is harsh, or gives us an excuse to be brutal with one another, but rather something that has a "toughness" that allows us to endure through it all. We can be firm in our relationships without being harsh. It just requires us to set standards and stay our ground...no condemnation, no guilt trips...But I think in our society we have a difficult time dealing with conflict in relationships without going on an emotional overload.

jholder said...

No condemnation for individuals. That is explicitly condemned. However, we are told to discern between good and evil and to condemn actions that are evil (sin), but, to "speak the truth in love".

The problem? Many today equate the actions-they-do with who-they-are, because they don't understand that it is all bigger than that.

This means that a Christian must be super careful, because many interpret the condemnation of actions (which we see even St. Paul doing in many places, such as Roman 1:26-30) as personal condemnation of their entire being.

While we have to still follow in the footstep of the Apostles in this regard, we must do so with a special attitude: that of contrition and considering ourself as the first/chief among sinners. This helps avoid self-rightoueness and rather cultivates humility, and helps us to to love others, know that Christ even loves us, as miserable as we are. This gives me hope and joy, and has encouraged me to speak with prisoners, and others, and love them.

It is interesting to note that most prisoners I have talked to come to an epiphany when they realize what they have done, the things which society has condemned, do not define who God created them to be. It is a relief, good news. I have seen some truely 'turn away' ('metanoite' in Greek literally means this, translated in the Bible as repentance) from their past and come to know the living, loving God.

But they would not have connected this, if they had not come to a place where their actions were condemned. I have been told by more than one prisoner that they were now glad that God had allowed them to go to prison.

Sin imprisons us all, and should be condemned. But salvation is the good news we have for sinners.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

voixdange said...

Jholder -- I couldn't have said it better myself. I have frequently been known to say, "You have to separate the action from the person." Working with children, this distinction is especially important to me. I exercise extreme caution in what I speak over a child's life. I think what you are saying is what I was talking about when I referred to holding "standards." You can let someone know their behavior is unacceptable without condemning them. Unfortunately, my experience in some church circles has been that condemnation has all too often been directed at individuals rather than their actions. This is so damaging, especially when it is done in a spiritual context. I can't stress that enough.Having been in situations that I felt were spiitually abusive, I know what this feels like first hand. We have to be able to convey to a person that what they did is bad, not who they are. Thanks for your comments.