I’ve spent the last weekend down in Southampton, visiting some of the friends I made during the three years I studied there. It was wonderful to spend time with people who know me well, with all my insecurities and struggles. I was always going to miss them, when I moved to Bradford. But with everything that happened over the summer, it’s been even harder. We’ve been through a lot together, and they are all precious to me. Saying goodbye again was difficult.
It got me thinking a lot about love, the beauty and the heartache of it. One quote that we heard a lot in Norway was that ‘grief is the cost of love’. As simple an idea as it is, it helped me to process my grief. We grieved because we loved James. In that sense it wasn’t something we had to fear, it was the other side of love, the price we all have to pay. There were days that followed where I did wonder if the cost was too high, whether love was worth the pain. Considered if perhaps it would be better to keep my distance, to shut the doors of my heart and not take the risk. But what is life without love?
Paul writes ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13). You would expect him to put faith above all other qualities, after all it’s pretty essential to build a church. But instead he writes that love is first. Maybe because without love, neither faith nor hope can really flourish. The way we love is a reflection of God’s love for us, ‘we love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). It should be the foundation of our families, relationships and churches. Without love life looses it’s colour and purpose.
In society we idolise romantic love, above all other forms and expressions. We long to ‘fall in love’ and find someone who loves us passionately and completely. Sometimes we can be so busy searching for this kind of love, that we loose sight of all the love we already have in our lives. The friends and family we love and are loved by. And as we look for that person who would take a bullet for us, we somehow forget that someone already did. When Jesus died for us.
We only have to switch on the news these days to see how much hatred, fighting and war there is in the world. It can seem like the darkness is winning. How can love stand against so much evil? I think we have to remember that for every act of hatred there will be many more acts of love and kindness. It just doesn’t make for exciting news. And love can overcome. In this country and around the world today there will be people giving their lives to not only love those close to them, but to serve the least, the lost and the broken. People motivated not out of greed or personal gain but love. This is what CAP aims to do.
As I thought about this post one bible verse kept coming into my mind, from Song of Solomon 8:6:
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death.”
As I look back over the past year I can see this to be true, love is as strong as death. I saw it as we stood and remembered James on that mountain in Norway. I felt it as we sat together at his funeral. In all the times we laughed and cried together. The way we loved each other through our sorrow and brokenness. You see, love doesn’t give up, it endures through the heart ache and pain of human existence. Not even death can defeat it.
As I write this, I miss those friends I’ve left behind down south. I’m back in Bradford now. In a place, that if I’m honest, still doesn’t feel like home. Where friendships are younger and will need time to grow. I don’t know what the future holds, what may be around the corner. But I’m finding that the thing about love is that it makes you braver than you would be on your own. It gives you the courage to move forward, knowing they are cheering you on. Love transcends distance and can reach you not matter how alone you feel. Right now, knowing that I am loved and that people believe in me; is enough for me to take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
No matter how difficult this life can seem, or how bleak the road ahead appears, don’t loose heart. Love will conquer, and it will win over evil every time.