The Bible tells us that the greatest virtue of all is love (1 Cor. 13:13), and the same is also a pre-requisite for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony to take place.
Jesus Christ further instructs us to love even as He has loved us, telling us that the greatest commandment of all is Love and that all other commandments have their roots in this great virtue( Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40)
However, expressing love to our neighbours or that special person can sometimes leave us vulnerable to being hurt. This leaves us with the question, “What do you do when Love hurts?”, “How do you overcome pain coming from love?”.
The following are reactions expected of us as Christians when our show of love takes a negative turn.
1. Let go
It can be hurtful when we are let down by the people we love, even more, when the hurt comes from someone we hold so close to our heart. It’s okay to grieve for a short while. However, our response afterwards is very crucial to our wellbeing. The first step to take in recovering from the hurts we face would be “letting go”. Harbouring grief in our hearts does us more harm than good, which is why we need to let go of the pain and sorrow.
Letting go, although necessary, can be very difficult to achieve. However, sharing your pains with family and friends and seeking support from your priest, counsellors, or elders in the church can help you overcome them. Accept the situation for what it is and move on. There’s no point holding on to what has already happened, as painful as it may be.
Therefore, make efforts to take that painful event off your mind. Accept your mistakes, if indeed you have made one, and learn from it. See that painful event as one of the many lessons that you learn from life. One other thing that can help you let go of whatever pain that Love has brought you is by having the mindset that you are the beloved of God, and that whatever He allows coming your way is ultimately for your good.
Like Joseph, who did not hold on to the betrayal of his brothers, but rather saw the whole episode as God working to achieve a greater good (Genesis 50: 15-19), learn to let go and let God.
2. Seek solace in God
Oftentimes, we need a shoulder to cry on or lean on in times of pain and hurt. The best shoulder to lean on would be that of Jesus Christ. He is ever-present (Matthew 28:20) at all times including in times of pain, and invites us to cast all our cares and worries on Him and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28, 1 Peter 5:7).
Seek solace with God in prayers and let Him comfort you. Go to a Tabernacle at a Catholic Church near you and unburden your pain. It is ok to cry too. The Holy Spirit who is the comforter (John 14:26) comforts God’s children in times such as those of pain. Ask Him for help to be able to completely let go, for no man can prevail without God (1 Samuel 2:9, Psalm 127:1). Surrender to God for strength to bear the pain and overcome them. As difficult as it may be to be able to focus on prayer or reading the Bible during this period, the Holy Spirit grants the strength to make it happen (Romans 8:11).
Spend more time in fellowship with your fellow brethren, share your pain with them and let them help you get over it. Attend Mass and pour out your pain to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and let Him perform a healing work in you.
Furthermore, seek help from the Mother of the church and the Help of Christians, our Mother Mary, who is constantly pleading for her children before Christ. Ask for her intercession in obtaining for you the strength and grace to deal with such a painful situation.
Don’t just let go of the hurt, go a step further, forgive. Yes, forgive. It’s not enough to just let go of it all. In addition to the demand placed on us as Christians and Catholics to forgive those who wrong us and do us harm, forgiveness also has several psychological and social benefits to the forgiver. Click here for some practical tips on forgiveness
In Genesis 33:1-10, we see the reconciliation between Jacob and His brother Esau. The two lived in rivalry for a good part of their lives due to Jacob’s deceit and betrayal of his twin brother However, in the above chapter, we see how Esau let go of the painful event of the past, running to embrace his brother who was asking for forgiveness.
Furthermore, we learn from the Lord’s prayer that we ought to forgive those who wrong us if we want our sins to be forgiven. Therefore, forgive all wrongdoings, no matter how grave or how frequent. It can never be as grave or frequent as the sins of mankind against God.
However, as necessary and mandatory as it may be for one to be a true Christian, forgiveness does not come so easily. But following these tips can help you forgive the most painful of events and hurts and obtain freedom for yourself. A person that does not forgive holds himself hostage (Matt. 18:23-35). Forgiveness, therefore, becomes necessary and mandatory to move on.
I have heard people say things like “I’ll never love again” or make decisions never to do a certain good ever again because their acts of love or charity did not go as expected or ended up being “detrimental” to them. As justified as they may be on certain occasions, this is never the Christian response to being hurt or being repaid with evil for good.
The Bible shows us how to respond to these situations (Luke 6:27-29). Love, keep on expressing love. Our Christian nature and obligation is that of love (1 John 4:7,20). Therefore, nothing should stop our show of love, not even the deepest of pains. Jesus Christ loves us unconditionally. His love was not drowned by the wickedness of man, rather He died for sinful man in his sinful state (Romans 5:8). We are therefore expected to show the same manner of love to our neighbours.
Avoid having any kind of expectation for acts of love (Mathew 5:43-47), rather let them be done from pure and sincere love. It is this kind of love that can persist even after being hurt. Love is not dependent on the action of the other person. If it were, Jesus wouldn’t have died for the same soldiers who crucified Him or prayed for their forgiveness (Luke 23:33-34). If the pains of Jesus Christ on the cross did not stop Him from still expressing love, neither should ours.
In addition, don’t carry out charity works out of Christian obligation. Love that is expressed out of obligation is a mechanical act, is difficult to achieve, and will not stand the test of pain. It’s okay to start that way, but seek to get to a point where love flows naturally from within, as a result of the infilling of the Holy Spirit who gives the power to love (Galatians 5:22-23). It is this kind of love that can persevere, even after going through the toughest of situations.
As Christians, we only have one call, which is to love (John 13:34). Therefore, come what may, every action of yours, every detail of your life should be centred around love. Frequent the Sacraments particularly the Holy Eucharist to receive and refuel on God’s Grace. Being filled with the Grace of God, it becomes increasingly difficult to do evil or not to love.