Pain opens eyes to love more deeply.
Bethany and Ryan were married for six weeks after four years of being together: going on family vacations, cheering on University of Oregon Ducks, and playing with their cat named Boots.
Then Ryan, at 25 years old, passed away from what started as testicular cancer.
Numerous students at Multnomah University have been experiencing the reality of losing a loved one this year. We’ve lost parents, grandparents, cousins, and others who are dear to us. Joel Brizzee, 23, a student at Multnomah, watched his cousin Bethany lose her husband Ryan. The pain is great. The hurt never seems to leave.
As we grow older, we come to realize that no life lasts forever. Someday, those closest to us will no longer be here. Pain and sorrow are guarantees in this fleeting glimpse of life, but one truth withstands all challenges: Love. If we let it, perhaps, just maybe, the deepest hurt can lead to the most vibrant love for others and for Christ.
Pain is too often seen as unacceptable. Dealing with it, even more so. Our society tells us we need to have everything together – all the time. We need to suppress the hurt in order to move on. These are destructive lies that prevent healing from occurring. Just because we are hurting or sad does not mean we are not good sons or daughters of the King. We do not need to be happy all the time. “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance,” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says.
Pain is feeling, deeply. Hurt, at times, penetrates to a depth no one else can relate with. In this time, we find the courage to accept this without being consumed by it.
Pursuing healing and growth is healthy in this process. We must allow ourselves and others to deal with the loss: to remember, to hurt, to cry, to question, and to be upset. It’s normal and good to grieve, and it looks different to each person.
Everything and everyone in this life passes away, and with this comes the most uncertain and shaken way of life. But there is a Truth that never fades. And He never leaves.
There is no greater example than that of Jesus Christ. He wept. He was stricken, afflicted, and acquainted with grief. He felt deeply enough that He endured sorrow and suffering and even death. He loves us that deeply.
When you lose someone, which we all will at some point in time, you realize the depths of your love for that person. If you are hurting, you are loving. Missing someone and grieving the loss of someone are expressions of your love. Or, maybe you neglected loving someone who is now gone or you wish you had loved them even more. Because they are gone and you are hurting, you see clearer the importance to not take for granted any moment in which you can love someone. Loving in the midst of loss, you not only feel pain deeply, but you also feel love more deeply than before. You see love and life in a deeper sense. That pain, that loss, can open your eyes to loving more.
Bethany did all she could to care for and be with Ryan in his suffering. She loved more deeply in the midst of the pain, realizing the time was very short. She was with him through every chemo treatment and hospital stay. She took a leave of absence at work to be there for him, and she put her own social life aside so he wouldn’t be alone. Bethany’s cousin Joel observed this sacrificial love and was reminded of Jesus’ words: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The greater love involves sacrifice.
Oh, but if only we had such eyes. To see like Bethany in living to love even in the midst of losing – to let our deepest hurt bring the most vibrant love and to love where we are in the losing and grieving process. Here, we are closer to the Lord than before, because in His hurt, He loved us.
–Kristen Leach is the “Features” editor for Muse and a senior Communication Studies major at Multnomah University.