Love is Beautiful but It’s not Clean

Love is beautiful, but it’s not clean.

It frees the heart from unforgiveness and bitterness, while not even slightly delivering it from pain and heartache. Freedom of forgiving love does not mean going scot-free and living untouched. Love is mangled and wounded and messy or it has not even hardly begun its race.

Love is a bloody Cross and a disfigured Body. Love is beautiful but it’s not clean. It’s not off the hook and fancy-free. It feels the pain at every turn. It tears with the divides at every movement.

If the heart feels pained in the paths of love, is it evidence of an ungodly giving of power to another? Or is it just love in its inability to wall off and enter indifference?

When I feel pain and mourn over the rifts, it is not an indication of my heart having submitted to another’s hold over my soul, but rather, love doing what it does. It suffers long, sometimes to agonizing measures.

Love will never get to the end of its battle in one piece. Free of offense, yes. Uncontrolled by accusation and bitter anger, yes. Delivered from self-seeking envy, and the like—yes. But not free of sorrow. Not free of bleeding-hearted intercession and mourning. Not free of messy tears and groans that refuse to be dried in the middle of its long battle—tears, and groans born out of the conviction that there is always yet hope.

Pain and heartache are not red flags to love; they’re simply the normal markers along the path. Burning stabs of grief and distress are not indicators of areas unsubmitted to Jesus, or places given over to the control of another’s hold. Rather, these pangs are just part of the bloody path of forgiving love—the path where no one shows up to the end unscathed. These achings are not a lack of faith or a soul tie that won’t break; they are the common companions to the ones living under the lordship of the bleeding King who is the Lamb of God.

Love is not controlled and composed, but bleeding, desperate believing in the face of every tight-fisted opposition. It beats the ground and refuses to receive the cold diagnosis claiming its efforts are in vain, that the dire prognosis is inevitable.

Love is beautiful, but it’s not clean.

It’ll wake you up in the middle of the night, it’ll take just a little too much. It’ll burn you like a cinder till you’re tender to the touch. It’ll chase you down, and swallow you whole, it’ll make your blood run hot and cold. Like a thief in the night, it’ll steal your soul, and that’s a good thing. Love is a good thing. – Andrew Peterson

Love is free of fear but it’s anything but free of pain. It is free of self-seeking but it’s anything but free of desperate pounding upon the door in prayer. It is no foreigner to aching and weeping and mourning, even when the war is long and the victory bleak. It won’t relent. It won’t pull out. It refuses to sit on the sidelines from a safe distance but inserts itself in the middle of the disarray.

It clings to the promise of the Blood that triumphed and the Wounds that healed. The Blood that continues to wash and forge through barriers and cover over sin’s multitude of offenses.

The longest of love’s paths are the bloodiest of its victories. And love never knew a triumph without a blood-stained cross and piercing thorns accompanying its way.

Love is beautiful, but it’s not clean.