I’ve been thinking about the tough love, the tough nut to crack.
(“Time for some tough love,” they tell the new mama, usually to mean it’s time to put your baby in the crib and just let them scream themselves to sleep, to spank them obedient, to stand your ground, to dig down deep and withstand their pleas, their tears, to be tougher than them and win your way at all costs.) (I hear the same language for teenagers, for different-thinkers, for prisoners, for the laid-off redundancies, for sinners, for the one that needs to be right in their eyes before they are allowed any love. A shrug of the shoulders and all is absolved because it’s tough love.)
I believe in tough love.
But it’s not that. Punishment for everyone from tinies to teenagers to tense adults. The tough love means going down deep, to battle my own selfishness, my own anger, my own frustrations, my temptations to choose being right over being gracious, to be the last word, to convince by arguing and harsh invectives, pinches and pricks, to win.
When the going gets tough, the tough choose love.
Tough love means Christ will win in me at all costs.
Time for some tough love: it’s time to choose love over anything else and sometimes that is tough.
I will choose to love tough. To love harder, to draw closest right when I’m most tempted to walk away, to lavish love when I am most yearning to withhold it.
Is my love a privilege for my husband or my tinies or my friends or the world to earn from me, dispensed like a non-renewable resource with cautiousness and tally marks and tit-for-tat? Never.
Time for some tough love? Absolutely. It is always time for the tough love, the love that is tough, the love that is chosen despite the toughness of the choice.
Tough love won’t be easily chewed up and spat out. Tough love will endure strain and hardship. Tough love is determined to love at all costs.
The greatest irony of tough love I’ve found is that it’s only found in relaxing. It’s only found in releasing control. Love is the relationship you relax into living. It’s only found in surrender, in living in the moment, in contentment with being and knowing the truth of enough – that He is enough and Love is enough and what I can do/offer/be is enough, too. Tough love is not found in trying harder to be more kind, more gentle, more disciplined.
Tough love says, you do not need to be right or perfect or without flaw to be loved.
It says that love is better than all of it, more than all of it, and I will choose it.
That is tough to do.