Years ago, as I watched my Grandmother take her last breath, I found myself in awe reflecting on the life she lived. Forever engrained in my mind is the way she loved everyone. She was incredible at seeing the good in people, the GOD in everyone. She forgave quickly, even when it probably hurt her to do so. When she left this world, I begged God for that kind of strength-to love in the hard times, to show up for life even when it was difficult.
I almost regret it now. I had hoped the trait would be hereditary, but now I know that kind of strength is only developed from experiencing hardship and choosing love as the response. It’s the most selfless thing we can do as humans, to be hurt and choose love over retaliation, compassion over conflict, forgiveness over grudges. it’s not easy to love like Jesus.
When I feel hurt, my instinct is to hurt back, to build a wall, to say I forgive but never let it go. And only at the wise old age of 26 am I finally learning that a response like that doesn’t help anyone. And why would I dim God’s light in me to match another? That’s not what he intended for me.
I describe it to my therapist by saying “I love BIG”, meaning when I love someone, I love them with all of me, fiercely. I want to be there when you’re sick, when you’re hurt, when you’re happy, when you’re sad, and I want you to love me that way too. But it doesn’t always work that way. Life isn’t easy that way.
I read a quote that says:
“The ocean does not apologize for its depth and the mountains do not seek forgiveness for the space they take and so, neither shall I”
And it made me realize that the love I have to offer the world should not be dependent on the response to it. I’d only be cheating myself and God if I allowed pain to control me.
But love is a hard choice, especially when we feel incredible pain. It’s hard to wake up and show the world grace. It’s hard not to sink inward and reflect on our hurt, feeling sorry for ourselves. It requires an incredible strength, that we all possess if we just choose it.
Forgiveness hurts. Loving hurts. But I no longer regret being that person. I’m not going to sink because someone tied me to an anchor-it’s not God’s plan for me.
My oldest son’s name is “Luca” meaning “bringer of light” and I believe he will live up to that. It’s the same goal I hold for myself: to choose love, to give compassion, to forgive quickly, to find my healing in God instead of searching for it in other people.
In my darkest days, choosing love means leaning into God, allowing him to carry me through pain, to hold my heart together when it feels like it’s in pieces. And when I allow God to take that role in my life-when I let him in-its so much easier to give grace. Because I trust God, I trust his plan for me, I trust that the love I have to give doesn’t need to be matched to have worth, because I am carrying out my purpose on this earth.
I think choosing love can be perceived as weakness in today’s world. As many cheesy quotes as I have read about forgiveness lately-most of them are all about being strong enough to cut people out of our lives, to respond to hurt by hurting back. Why? Who is that helping?
I don’t know what I’m even getting at with this, except that your life is not defined by anyone’s response to it. You choose your response to hardship.I can’t imagine ever regretting giving grace. It comes with the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done all you can, you’ve been the best version of yourself.
I can only pray God continues to help me give love and grace, even when the world tells me it isn’t deserved. I love BIG, but that’s just me, and I’m not going to apologize for it, or let anyone kill that part of me. It’s what I remember my Grandmother for, and it’s what I want to be remembered for: selfless, unwavering love.