Love Hurts

There’s a catch little ditty making the rounds on Top 40 radio called “Knock You Down,” by Keri Hilson. If you hear her chorus once, you’ll have it ringing in your ears for the rest of the day:

Sometimes love comes around and it knocks you down

Just get back up when it knocks you down

Not surprisingly, she is speaking of romantic love. But, since the song has been ringing in my ears, I have not been able to help but contemplate if perhaps those words are true, if applied to a deeper kind of love.

It may seem clichéd, but love does hurt. If you truly love someone – whether a spouse, a child, a parent, or a friend – you expose yourself to all kinds of hurt. If they suffer, you suffer. If they hurt you, it hurts all the more because it came from someone you love. The ache of missing someone who is away from you is a very real hurt.

And, if we take this love thing really seriously, we become even more vulnerable to being hurt. We don’t run from people who are really hard to love, or whose hurts are more than we think we can bear. We don’t numb ourselves from the messy and difficult things in our own lives or in that of our loved ones, but deal with the hurt head-on, letting it crash over us like a mighty wave.

In other words, love is quite contrary to our self-preserving instinct. The world is full of people who once loved, but once they got hurt, stopped loving; and I can’t say that I blame them for not wanting to put themselves out there again. Love hurts; and, once hurt, it can make a lot of sense to not want to get hurt again.

And yet, are we not as humans hard-wired to love and be loved? As dangerous as love may be, is not closing oneself off to loving and being loved a far more miserable plight?

To couch this concept in spiritual terms, Jesus once said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.” Ours is a life of love; and if you believe that living a life of love is all teddy bears and candy hearts, you don’t live in my house, my neighborhood, my city, or my generation. It can be tempting to save yourself the grief of loving and being loved, and love can sometimes seem like losing your life. But we can cling to a promise made by One who keeps His promises: if you lose your life for My sake and the sake of my message, you’ll save it.

Which is why I believe my brain has latched on to Ms. Hilson’s catchy little hook. Sometimes love does in fact come around and knock us down. And when it does, I hope that that second line of the chorus is not far from my mind: that I am encouraged to just get back up to love some more. For it is clear that, though it is fraught with the potential to be hurt, this way is the way to life.
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