Love’s Exacting Demands

When our children were small I mistakenly thought it my job to lovingly control their behavior and brush aside any negative feelings, proving what a happy family we were. And while I truly desired what was best for them, my ideas of what was best were impoverished. Unwilling to endure the small-minded judgment of others who might be annoyed by their childish ways, I overemphasized external aspects of their behavior neglecting to tune into what was happening in their interior world. My youthful ignorance now humbles me.

Now I believe that the responsibility for doing good weighs far heavier on the Lover than the Beloved. The Beloved, eats, rests, grows, cries tantrums, runs wild, dances with abandon, and climbs high in risky exploits while the Lover remains available nearby, intervening only when safety is compromised. The Lover is a safe refuge, a sheltered place of nourishment where the Beloved can learn to regulate stormy emotions, a quiet voice of help at the proper time.

No mother or father can stay ever calm, let alone judge rightly when their child’s safety is threatened, yet my idyllic description of Beloved and Lover aptly describes our relationship with God who is the quintessential Lover.

God allows his children, far more freedom than might seem prudent because he loves and delights in us without bounds, just as we are. Rather than stifling our negative emotions, he waits. Sometimes he waits long years before patiently unpacking our experiences with us, drawing from our hearts more gratitude and love than we knew possible.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

Song of Songs 2:16

For me, the exacting demands of love come into play when I see my child or grandchild, my husband or my friend as Beloved.

That’s when I, as Lover, am challenged to love without attempting to change or manipulate the other to better suit my idea of who they ought to be. It seems that such love is most efficiently communicated by suffering together. Perhaps that’s why St. Theresa of Kolkata admonishes us to “Love ’til it hurts.”

It’s a scandalous idea, that Love should require suffering and pain. It’s understandable that people would fight it.

But if I want to love like Jesus, I see no other way.



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Shirl koneke says:

    You always inspire me..please don’t ever stop.


  2. Lorraine Sherrin says:

    well said , I love you knowledge and Godly perception of life.


  3. Lani, I love your writing! I am wondering if you would be willing to share your insights with us at Red Bird Ministries? We are at the service of the Church and families of child loss. We would love to chat with you in one of our monthly webinars. Could you reach out to me at ? I couldn’t find another way to contact you 🙂


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