Hurting in Love

by Theresa Newell

As I write, there has been another school shooting, this time at a school close to my son’s.  One child died. There are now parents that will never hold their child again. It could have been me. Two teenagers were arrested, aged 14 and 15. Their lives, and the lives of their families, are also forever changed. My heart breaks. 

Love hurts. Love stretches the heart until it feels that it might break, and when it does break, love pours out. Anyone who has loved deeply has felt their heart stretching and breaking – as children grow, as loved ones move away, as our beloveds make a final journey home. We hurt when others hurt. When those we love suffer, we suffer. Loving deeply hurts; it is self-sacrificial. And it is essential.

This love is exactly what Christ calls us into—to love without counting the cost. Love that hurts when others hurt. I hurt over the fact that people have no food to give to their children. I hurt because people in Iran are being beaten and killed. I hurt because many people—even in this country—are treated as though they don’t count. This hurts. Love hurts. Sometimes I cannot hold back the tears.

But I wouldn’t want to hurt any less. Hurting less might mean that I show-up less in the world, that I am less available to my brothers and sisters when they are hurting. I am in good company with Christ whose heart hurt and broke. If the God of all the universe could make himself available to us (Emmanuel, “God with us”) how could I do less? 

My prayer today is that we be willing to hurt. That we hold on to Christ and one another in that love that causes pain. I pray that we bear the burdens of others and that we never shy away from this because in this lies nothing short of the Kingdom of God. 

Theresa Newell is a hospital chaplain and postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Olympia. She lives just outside of Seattle, Washington with her husband, her youngest son, and their dog. 

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