When we think of love, warm and fuzzy feelings often come to mind. Valentine's Day was just this past weekend, and for most of us First World consumers we frequently equate physical images of love with big, bright red and pink hearts, boxes of chocolates and roses.
Yet, that's barely scratching the surface.
Being a foster mom, and now the leader of an organization that seeks to provide hope, healing and empowerment for women transitioning out of atrocious situations will teach you a thing or two about love.
And here's the skinny...
Love is exhausting.
Love is challenging and painful.
Pat Benetar was right... love is a battlefield - a messy, brutal, raging battlefield.
A battle that many people bow out of it.
They ring the bell that signifies their defeat and choose to leave the war zone broken and bleeding, disheartened and discouraged.
When you give yourself to the battle of love, you have to enter in wholeheartedly. Committed and persevering with the understanding that all your efforts may seem as if they are in vain. Aware of the fact that your life could be sacrificed on the altar of redemption with little to know recognition. No one is going to give you a standing ovation for you love, let alone thank you.
You give of yourself freely with full acknowledgment of the realization that you may pour yourself out entirely, and never see the fruit of your labor.
True, unadulterated, unconditional love takes two steps forward, while taking six steps back.
It's meeting someone at the pinnacle of their brokenness, and allowing yourself to walk beside them, to be the hand which feeds them, and gets bitten in return.
Love is a battlefield, a marathon, a journey, which calls for the utmost of endurance and resilience to push through to see that or whom you are loving to the other side.
It's the conscious decision to enter into the very bowels of their darkness and provide the ladder which guides them into the light.
To fight, cry, sweat and bleed to make sure they know you aren't giving up.
Our society has very much polluted the idea of love. Love has been painted in to a mirage of magical feelings and the illusion of euphoria. It traps you into believing that as long as your endorphins are pumping and and all in life seems rosy, that is love and nothing can permeate the force field of perfection.
However, real love is anything but being twitterpated and starry-eyed.
The love that comes only from the Being who is the very essence of this force, is a love that truly has the power to conquer all.
It's full of sacrifice and compromise. It's tears, and uncomfortable recognition of your own weaknesses, faults, fears and brokenness.
It's a love worth fighting for.
A love worth dying for.
Bob Goff, the author of the incredible book, Love Does, said it perfectly...
Unconditionally loving broken people is the most difficult and draining, yet rewarding and extraordinary thing we are called to - and the calling never stops. Where there are humans, there is the call to love recklessly, furiously, and unrelentingly - against all odds.
In John 15, Jesus talks about the greatest commandment. The command to go, and love without end. He explains that the greatest demonstration of love is laying your life down for another.
While I'm certain this does apply to the physical realm, I can't help but think Jesus was stating far more than just the obvious.
Jesus was calling us to lay ourselves down for the sake of love. To allow ourselves to be mistreated, lose sleep, to be yelled at and cursed, to pursue the hearts of the broken and retrieve souls from the clutches of darkness.
To step out of what is familiar and comfortable so another might find hope, freedom and a sense of worth, or even a home.
Love is the furthest thing from easy or simple, it's hard and at times feels nearly impossible - but it's worth it.
When you fully surrender to the love that Jesus lived and died for, when you find yourself recklessly abandoned to follow in His footsteps and passionately live out the call, you discover the sheer freedom in the truth. The truth that despite the risk that comes with signing up for the battle and placing yourself and the frontline, love is the most powerful force in the universe. And this true love, is surely worth charging ahead, and giving your life for.
Love is a battlefield, a battlefield that requires warriors who are ready to carry on, and valiantly fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.