Really loving

I’ve been thinking about love lately. About loving people no matter how well they love you back. Even in a good relationship, self-love comes easier, doesn’t it? We hope that our loved one is going to fill our gaps, fulfill our needs. And if they don’t when they don’t love us ‘right’, whatever we think that is, it is self-love that causes us to feel wounded. Self-love also makes it harder for us to reach out and love them anyhow.

When people don’t love us well, our minds can come up with so many logical reasons to hold back, to be on guard. To love on our own terms, or to not love at all. This person disses me, so they don’t deserve my love. That person hurt me irreparably– they don’t deserve my forgiveness. I’ve got to guard myself. I can’t risk being hurt again.

In the beginning of a love relationship, it is appropriate to guard your heart, to choose wisely. But once you’ve jumped in– married the person, brought home the child, or otherwise find yourself navigating the waters of family (sorry, you don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings!) there’s not a lot of room for self-protective love. 

The heart of true love is self-sacrifice, not self-fulfillment. At the center of the happiest relationships, you’ll most likely find two people, both willing to serve each other a fair bit of the time. But don’t underestimate the power of one person with a servant-heart.

There are some really difficult relationships, where boundaries have to be in place to protect one person from another. But we all could opt to love someone in our own lives better. I’ve got at least a few people. Chances are, a person or two is coming to your mind, too.

It is the hardest kind of love there is, to reach out to those who hurt us, or to those who love us ever-so-imperfectly. But that’s what we’re called to do. Think about how Jesus loved us. His love was and is an extravagant display, aimed at the very people who most hated him and wanted him gone. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He said those words from the cross. And He calls us to take up our cross and follow.

To love one another. Why? Because He first loved us. And because our loved ones need us to.

Need a bit more encouragement?  I hope these links do just that.


The always-real, always-encouraging Christine did the video below about loving attachment-challenged kids, but it will speak to anyone who has a challenging person in their life.


The following quote is from Pope John Paul II:

“Love consists of a commitment which limits one’s freedom — it is a giving of the self, and to give oneself means just that: to limit one’s freedom on behalf of another. Limitation of one’s freedom might seem to be something negative and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing.”

(I’d highly encourage you to read the entire article on the topic of self-realization to better understand the context of this quote.)
Other relevant links:

In love with myself

Countering Romantic Apathy

What Real Love Looks Like


Note: In encouraging you to love a difficult someone in your life, I’m aware that in situations of true abuse a person might need to step away to be physically safe. If you find yourself in that most difficult of situations, my heart goes out to you. Please remember that God loves you, and that His perfect love is on the move even now.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this, I needed it today. My husband and I are dealing with issues with my parents and them choosing to do and say some very hurtful things. Your post is a reminder of how I need to love them despite that, not that we don’t need to draw some boundaries, but still love them how Christ has loved us and forgive them…both hard things for me to do, I just want to cut them out of my life and our kids’ lives and be done, but that is my hurt talking. Your post has encouraged me to pray for a better attitude and for one that can love them and forgive them. Thank you for your words of encourgament. I’m printing the post so I can read it over and over to help remind me!

  2. I heard recently that love is choosing to leave a door open. The analogy was a connecting door between two hotel rooms. Even if the other person has closed and locked the door from their side, you leave yours unlocked, just in case they come back.
    Obviously not applicable in all situations, but very fitting in some.

  3. This post is very apropos for me and dealing with one of my siblings right now. And I wondered if this is where you were going the other day with the “Love is…” post. I had originally commented on that one that Love is being willing to receive someone back even after they’ve hurt you; love is not letting that bridge between you burn – but then I shortened it to read, “Love is unconditional.”
    Besides that, I think I would add that love is character building! If you love properly, your character cannot help but grow and be strengthened.

    Thank you for this timely post!

  4. Thank for this post. It has had me self reflecting the past few days.

  5. Thanks so much for this post. I cannot overstate how much I needed those wise and kind words right now. May God bless you.

  6. I’ve been struggling this week with not just the lack of love I receive from my daughter (who was adopted from foster care), but the withholding of love, the rejection of me and my love as a mother. It is hurtful. But I believe strongly in Paul’s portrayal of love in 1 Cor., and I work every day to love not just the people who are easy to love but those who make it hard.


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