That quote from the Man in Black in The Princess Bride is one of my favorites because it rings so true. Life is full of pain. We live in a fallen world and pain is a result of that fallen state. This is especially true in our relationships. To love someone is to get hurt. This is a constant that cannot be avoided if you once open yourself up to love. Your husband ignores your feelings, your children are selfish, a beloved parent dies, your friends are too busy or say the wrong thing in your grief, your best friend moves to another state, a church member inadvertently questions your faith while attempting to comfort you, your adult child walks away from the Lord, and the list goes on.
There is no way to avoid pain if you want to live life or love anyone. C.S. Lewis said it so well,
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness…We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.What I know about love and believe about love and giving ones heart began in this.” – The Four Loves
If I avoid pain and suffering, I will avoid loving others, and in not loving others, I will not know the love of God. Elizabeth Prentiss wrote, “This is my earnest plea, More love, O Christ, to Thee.” In order to have more love for Christ, I cannot and must not stop loving the people He places in my life, and that means hurt and brokenness and heartache. Is it worth it? Yes, all things are worth knowing Christ and in the pain that results from loving broken, sinful people, He meets me and comforts me and makes me into the beautiful saint He wants me to become.
I don’t want my heart to live in a casket of selfishness, although that may seem safer. I want it to be open, vulnerable, full of love for my family and friends and if that means it will be broken and bleeding and crushed (and it does mean that), so be it. I know that the Lord will know how to comfort me in that brokenness and hurt because He has already endured that same brokenness for me. If you are in the midst of suffering over a relationship, even if it is a small suffering, go to Jesus and let Him comfort you, and then go out and love again and again and again. Let’s fill the world with the love of Christ so that everyone around us can see our Savior in the way we love one another.