Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
This tattoo was started a couple of years ago, while on a trip to help a dear friend. It’s my reminder to take every step I walk- in love. That’s the original piece. The lettering and the love birds.
You’d think that my near death experience while getting that tattoo would have taught me that love hurts. And maybe, it kind of did. (FYI? try to avoid getting tattooed while wearing a neck brace. Especially if you’re already blessed with an over active vaso-vagal response. You will turn funky colors, sweat, and have the fabulous tunnel vision that comes just before passing out- or you’ll hit the floor. I didn’t. But, it came close.)
You’d think that 2 weeks ago when I had the first session of that tattoo’s makeover by the amazing Cee Jay Jones- that I’d have had a bold reminder.
And when I crouched the same foot in the hospital bed.
And when I spilled hot Starbucks over it. (This foot has been though a lot lately.
You’d also think that after 4 years of fighting cancer alongside my husband, 25 years of parenting, 26 years of marriage and 25 years in leadership….I’d know that real messy- honest love can hurt.
And I think I did. But, I know, I know it in deeper way.
Physically and emotionally.
Over the past month I’ve learned that love both hurts with empathy for a loved one in pain. So much that you hold your breath while they wince. So much that you shake when they shake in cold- or fear.
Over the past month I’ve also learned afresh that sometimes love hurts in order to heal. My husbands current care plan involves some painful procedures that will carry on at home. Performed by me.
While I’ve often teased that I’d hurt him if he didn’t behave- the truth is- purposefully inflicting pain on him has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m NOT doing this to hurt him, I’m doing it to help heal him. We both understand that, but understanding doesn’t make it less painful- just purposeful.
I also didn’t know how much physically caring for a loved one can hurt…. the caregiver. The truth is- My body is currently a mess. My neck shoulders and back hurt- from well… trying to take care of what we;’ll just call “business.” and from long night spent in a pseudo- comfortable recliner. I’m sleep deprived by one part worry, one part vigilance and one part hospital. (They like to wake you up to see if your dead. I suggest they quietly come in with a mirror and do the old time breath foggy mirror test… apparently there’s more to it tun that. I’m to complaining- I’m simply stating a fact: caregiving can be painful on many levels.
The truth is these are steps in our love life that we didn’t see coming. Honestly, had God given me a heads up? I’d have done anything to try to avoid it. And I would have freaked out.
Yet, here I am. On day 12. Discharge day. (YES! Finally! 12 days is way too long.) And the pain from that beautiful tattoo is in the progress of healing. Right along side my husband.
Healing- is painful. Healing is exhausting. It’s hard work physically, biologically and emotionally. So is love.
As I take the next steps in my life journey- I’ll take them with both the physical reminder to walk in love- and the deep knowing that that walk sometimes involves pain. Sometimes it’s inflicted in spite- sometimes in helping. Sometimes through empathy.
Love is worth the pain. Always.
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
Even here. When love hurts.
Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of love. It might be the pain of empathy, the pain of loss, the pain of helplessness or, the pain of healing…..if you are- know that you’re not alone.
I get it- I care- and so does God. He promises that someday pain will end.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
In the past few weeks, I can attest a new – that he is faithful to be with us in our pain. Tattoo- or otherwise.
Dear lord- I hate pain. I really hate inflicting it on someone I love. But -I thank you for being present in our pain, and for bringing healing along with it. Keep reminding me Lord, of your presence and your plan- to heal through this season of pain. I love you lord- and need you. I can’t do this on my own….thank you for being with me every pain filled step of the way. Amen.
***I promise to post a pic of the completed of beautiful rework of this tattoo. A lace background and more color for the roses is planned for once this heals up;) I love it even more- after this experience.. Cee Jay Inky Jones is creating on my foot;)