The one you love is going to hurt you.
I know it’s disappointing, because no one wants to be hurt by the on they love. But it’s going to happen. Not because they’re a bad person, they really do love you, but simply because they are human.
When you are married to a human, you married someone who is flawed, has a propensity to think of themselves before you and makes mistakes. Scripture reminds us “There is no one righteous, no not one” and “all have sinned and fallen short.” The one you love is going to hurt you.
Because we’re all just human, there can be no perfect relationship where we are never hurt. Avoiding hurt in relationships is a hopeless proposition.
We try it anyway.
We often demand perfection from others all the while ignoring our own flawed nature and behaviors. We often do not hold ourselves to the same standard we hold others.
Humans make mistakes, get distracted, are at least occasionally selfish, and frequently make poor choices. It’s not about never getting hurt.
It is about knowing what to do when you are hurt.
God knows all about being hurt by the one you love. He loves you. He loves me. He knows we have, and will continue, to fall short and hurt him.
We hurt him by all the ways we choose ourselves over him, just like we get hurt in relationship with each other. But that doesn’t stop him from loving us. More than simply loving us, he chooses the suffering of being hurt by the ones he loves rather than be without our love.
Why suffer for one you love? Is there a scale that measures the good things they do against the bad? Many of us have one and use it often. However, anyone who has been hurt can testify that a single hurt can undo years of good. When one mistake can erase the other ninety-nine perfect things we do, we realize a love based on a scale is a very insecure way to be in relationship. It becomes legalistic, based on behavior, not affection. We judge the one we love based on how good or bad they make us feel about ourselves instead of how much we love and choose them.
We hurt the ones we love in the same way our sin hurts God. He says our sin separates us from him. We can know this is true from our own relationships with each other. For when the one you love hurts you, you feel separated from them. Drawing close to the one who hurt you is very hard to do. This is not just theology; it is our human experience.
When the one you love hurts you, you feel betrayed. You get angry. You revealed your deepest self in the hope of being loved in safety and security. Their actions cut you to the core, threatening or even tearing that safety and security apart. Our hurt and anger overwhelms our love and grace. When the one we would turn to comfort us was the one who hurt us, we feel alone in our pain.
This is what makes love so difficult. The one you love, the one you depend on to love even the worst parts of you, is going to hurt you because of their own dark and shameful parts. Two humans, each flawed and imperfect, attempting to love one another perfectly is a recipe for failure.
So, what do you do when the one you love is going to hurt you? The answer lies in this truth: Relationship wounds are healed in relationship. We long for the one who hurt us to redeem us. We want the guilty party to make us right again. Usually, our flawed nature this turns into blame and accusation. In our anger, we shame the one that hurt us. However, God, the example of perfect love, does something very different with us.
When God could have demanded for us to go first to make things right between us, he chose create the pathway to reconciliation. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He chose to embrace his suffering instead of rejecting it. He went first to restore the relationship. And he calls us to follow his example with each other.
God knew that the greatest form of accountability is vulnerability. Instead using his power and authority to demand our righteousness, he used his power to choose humility. Instead of standing in judgment, he revealed to us the depth of our sin and how much it hurt and cost him to forgive us that hurt. He did this by dying on a cross.
Forgiveness always comes at a cost. It is not truly free. Someone must pay for the transgression. Our hurt demands the one who hurt us to pay. God did the opposite, for he as the injured party chose to pay for the sin of the guilty. Why would he do that? Why should we do that?
Because the one you love is going to hurt you. It’s what you do when you love the one you love. You accept that they are going to hurt you and you choose them over your need for their perfection. You choose to pay a price to cover the gap.
But forgiveness is only a part of reconciliation. For while God offers us the gift of forgiveness, he does not want us to abuse that gift. While he loves us enough to pay the price for the ways we hurt him, he does not want us to callously continue to hurt him. No one wants to be hurt by the one they love.
God holds us accountable for our actions, not through vengeance but through forgiveness and grace. Our emotional connection with God allows us to feel the weight of our sin and how it hurts our relationship with Him. This empathic experiencing of the wounded party’s hurt produces feelings of guilt, sorrow and remorse. These negative feelings lead us to want to change our behaviors to protect the one we love. Our guilt leads us to seek repentance and forgiveness and to repair the relationship.
God says that, once forgiven, he does not remember the injury any longer. He does not hold our sin against us. We, and the relationship, are made new. He says that if we are faithful to ask forgiveness, he will be faithful to grant us that forgiveness to restore the intimacy and connection in the relationship.
Clearly, we are not as good at this as God. We tend to hold on to injuries we have forgiven, especially if we are hurt again in a similar way. We often resist the vulnerability required to have this kind of accountability. We were wounded in vulnerability, so we move away from it instead of towards it. We want the one who hurt us to do all the work. We want them to know our experience and needs without our needing to disclose them, thus avoiding our need for vulnerability. We want the one we love to make things right with no effort or risk on our part.
These are natural feelings, intuitive, and logically justifiable. Unfortunately, choosing isolation as a solution to isolation is a dead end road. It only leads to only further distance, greater distress, and increased doubt that true emotional safety is even possible. God’s path is the opposite of this. As the injured party, he moves to rescue the injurer. He believes that if the one who hurt him could truly understood how loved they are, could feel the depth of the pain he feels within the security of his love, then something amazing can happen in the relationship.
Far from minimizing the pain of the injury, moving into vulnerability while holding accountability creates a pathway to restored connection. Offering to have a conversation about the injury while affirming the connection prevents defensiveness, anger, blame-shifting, and other self-protective behaviors that often get in the way of reconciliation.
Repair requires that connection be more important than blame. Reconciliation reaffirms my importance to the one who left me feeling alone. Leaning toward the one that hurt me reaffirms that, despite their mistake, they are still loved, wanted, and desired.
The pathway to repair leads us back through the pain of the injury. Where we experienced the hurt in isolation, repair restores connection. By walking back through the injury in the presence of connection, the one I love is able to comfort and hold me in the presence of the injury. Connection held in the presence of injury is the essence of repair. This creates a new story around the hurt, that the one who hurt me comforted my pain and restored our connection.
The process of repair is also protective against future mistakes. True repentance leads to a heartfelt change in our behaviors because we do not want to feel the hurt we caused in the one we love. When we remember this pain and keep it close, it reminds us to protect the one we love from our selfish ways.
We also learn than quick disclosure of mistakes when they occur speeds up the reconnection process. The biggest protection is that regular repair gives us a confidence that sees through times of hurt and disconnection to the impending repair. While we are not okay in this moment, we know without a doubt that we will be okay as soon as we repair. Thus we can be okay even when we are not okay. Or as scripture calls it, a “peace that passes understanding.”
While we cannot avoid being hurt by the one we love, we can always engage in the process of repair. How many times should we engage this process? When a disciple asked Jesus this question, he answered “seventy times seven” times. In context to the question, it means always. For how do you not repair with the one you love? for no matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, we can always get back to good.
The one I love is going to hurt me. But if I love the one I love, and the one I love truly loves me, we will engage in this hard work of relationship- of injury, repair, and reconciliation. We will practice this until we know the areas we injure each other and work hard to protect the one we love from our weaknesses. We will get better at the practice of repair until it barely feels like work. We will be vulnerable with one another so frequently, it becomes our natural state of being with each other. The barest hint of defensiveness, protest, or other injury revealing behaviors leads us to quickly address it with one another, engage in the process of repair in order to get back to connection as quickly as possible.
The one you love is going to hurt you. But that’s okay. Because you love them. And they love you. All that’s that is required to protect that love is some hard work. If it feels awkward and unfamiliar, that’s okay. God’s ways often feel unnatural to us. Or rather, our ways are unnatural to God. But seeing as he is the one who designed humans and the concept of connection, I propose his ways lead to our best outcomes.
So lean in. Take a risk. Get help if you need it. The one you love is worth it. The security and confidence you’ll gain is around the corner. The depth of the connection you long for is waiting to be secured.