Monday, January 30, 2023

To Love Is to Suffer Together; to Suffer Together is to Love

(Maple leaf from my driveway)

One of the harder things I've had to do was put our dog So-fee down. She developed a urinary tract blockage, which was untreatable. I hated the day we brought her to the vet and said good-bye.

We suffered that day. We suffered much, because we loved much. Those that love suffer in a certain way. Their suffering is not polluted by unresolved issues, uncertain love, and bitterness.  

Life is a series of gains and losses. For Linda and I, the losing part includes our parents, our son David, Linda's sister Vicki, and several greatly loved relatives and friends.

Greatly loved.

When a person does not love, their suffering is impure. The closer you are to someone spiritually and emotionally, the more you feel with them. This is why those who love others weep when others weep, and rejoice when others rejoice. 

This past August Linda and I celebrated forty-nine years together. We rejoiced, because we love each other! Over the years we have laughed, and suffered, together. She enters into my pain and joy, and I enter into hers. Love embraces both the struggle and the victory.

This produces a bountiful fruit of love that is exemplified in Christ. In love, Jesus suffered. In suffering, Jesus loved. If this isn't happening, then it's less than love.

Will Hernandez tells us about Henri Nouwen's understanding of suffering love. Hernandez writes:

"Much can be said about the aphorism that the one who loves much suffers much. For to surrender to love is akin to risking, to letting go of one’s proclivity to control, thereby opening oneself to vulnerable living, and consequently inviting the real prospect of suffering. It is equally accurate to say that only one who has known the experience of deep suffering can freely love and give love with true abandon. If suffering happens to be the consequence of true love, then that same love also becomes the fruit of real suffering. [Henri] Nouwen, from his own experience, reminds you and me: “Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear” (IVL:60)." (Will Hernandez, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 238-242)


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