Real Love Is Ugly Love

Real love is not cute.

When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to be cute. To be cutesy. I was a lumbering, awkward and always-too-large creature from my view. I would lament the growing pains and the reality that I had never been and never would be petite or cute. Whoa is me.

My mother, in her petite sweetness, would tell me that I was something more lovely than cute. But, what did she know? She was short and she was my mother. She had little credibility at being unbiased in her view of me and clearly had to say all the nice things. It helped. I felt loved. She did a good job. But, my young heart wasn’t having any of it.

With age it didn’t come — the contentment and the understanding of what love is. It took a move of God to bring me to a place of understanding about who I am and who I should want to be. I’ve come to understand why cute isn’t a goal.

I’ve come to understand what love looks like. And it isn’t pretty.

Contrary to much of what our culture teaches — cute isn’t cute. And love, of all the things misrepresented in 2017, isn’t cute when it’s real.

In the world, love looks often like something glossy and gorgeous. It’s smooth and shiny and simple and clean. It’s tied up neatly and our feelings stay firmly intact. There is no ugly crying and there’s never any snot in the epic scenes. And that is a lie.

Love? The real kind? It’s sharp-edged, raw and by the standards of the world not pretty. Much less cute. Sometimes it involves snot.

Real love holds sweaty clenched hands in delivery rooms and wipes tear-soaked faces at memorial sites.

Real love wraps an arm around you when Taps plays.

Real love keeps going when reason says to walk away.

Real love keeps hoping when reason says all is lost.

Real love looks at your mess and it rolls up its sleeves and it gets to work.

Real love knocks on the gates of hell and refuses to walk away until those too far gone come back to us.

Real love hangs on a cross.

Real love keeps on.

Real love is beautiful and holy.

Real love costs something. Ourselves.

Love is saying your vows wearing a red dress in your sister’s backyard on a Wednesday.
Love is saying your vows wearing a red dress in your sister’s backyard on a Wednesday.

And that’s often when we bail. That’s where we often feel justified in walking away. Even if it’s just in our minds.

It is impossible to grasp both love and self preservation in the same measure.

Love pays a price. And the price is us.

And that’s the lie that the world tells us and we often swallow whole - that we will get out of this thing called life unscathed. That we will get something out of love without giving something far greater. That a cute life made up of a series of easy events is a goal. And that love, above all, is the easiest ride of all.

No one had a greater purpose on this earth than Jesus Christ. And there’s nothing in his life that smacks of glossy, cute, easy.

Purpose pays a price.

When I think of love I’ve often thought of the light. Of sun-tinged images so golden you feel the warm. Swinging giggling children on the beach and gazing in each other’s eyes. Eyes that are beautiful and clear, whispers of all the sweet things. But, love on display is often tough to look at straight on.

Love happens in the darkness when hope is futile. Love happens when bloodshot, tear-rimmed eyes lock and refuse to look away. Love happens when you whisper you’ll stay for the war. Love happens when you hold onto hope. Love happens when you stretch out your arms to reach the hurting no matter what it costs you. Just ask Jesus.