Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Loving in the Face of Pain

I used to hear people with children say, "I didn't know I could love another living being so much."  Occasionally, I hear people say something similar about a pet, a dog or a cat.  I don't often hear people say such a thing about a spouse.

Lately I've been feeling the acute pain that comes from loving so much.  My spouse spent the year of 2012 in varying amounts of pain.  And here's my pain:  there's been absolutely nothing I could do to alleviate that pain.

We've tried all sorts of things (massage, exercises, healing services) with minimal success, so tomorrow, we try what we hope will be a more permanent solution:  surgery.  I'm not as frightened as I thought I would be, when surgery was first suggested.  The neurosurgeon calls it "routine microsurgery," so it's a different kind of back surgery than the kind our mothers had--just an overnight stay in the hospital.  I'm hoping that it's more like the kind of surgery that cleans out a knee, less like hip replacement.  But overall, I'm ready for my spouse to feel better.

I've been thinking of parental love, and how so much of parental love involves the pain of wishing the best for your children while watching them make choices that aren't the best for them or watching random chance deal harsh blows.  Lately, I've been thinking that spousal love may be similar. 

If I had had a child, I'd expect to spend sleepless nights worrying about drug interactions and what the future will bring in terms of careers.  I'd have expected to lie awake wishing that I could change outcomes or worrying about the pain coming to my child.  In my youthful rush to the altar, it didn't occur to me that I'd feel the same way about the man I was marrying.

Of course, to love deeply means that we will feel that pain, whether it be the love for child, spouse, or friend.  Many of us feel similar love for institutions, countries, you name it.

Lately I've been reminding myself that God feels that same kind of love for each of us.  God feels anguish when we make choices that are less than optimal.  God smiles when good things come our way.  God cheers us on when all goes well.  God is there to comfort us when it doesn't.

Unlike our human counterparts, however, nothing can affect how much God loves us.  No matter how many times we make disappointing choices, God still hopes for our best outcomes.  No matter how many times we betray God, God will still be there, happy to see us, day after day.

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