Thursday, October 2, 2014

when love is not enough

Once upon a time, I wrote a post about the power of love in relationships, which was all well and good. Love is extremely powerful. It can do wonders for body, mind and soul. The Bible says that love can cover over a multitude of wrongs. Yet, while love can completely transform someone and make them blossom and bloom, what do you do with that one person for whom all the love in the world isn't ever going to be enough?

The Bible tells us that with God, all things are possible. But I also know there are people who are never, ever going to change. They are so messed up, so irreparably damaged, that barring a miracle from God Himself, they will never be healthy enough to do a real relationship. You can love on them 24/7, but it will never, ever be enough. 

People who are this broken believe that the world revolves around them, and they desire to keep the focus on themselves at all times. They are arrogant, manipulative, and unable to empathize with others. They are extremely insecure and are compelled by their constant need for constant admiration. In their quest for protecting their fragile egos at all costs, they end up pushing away the very ones who can help them. By constantly demanding more than anyone could ever give, they will suck others dry--spiritually, emotionally, financially--all the while oblivious to the carnage they leave behind. 

In my lifetime, I have met several of these people. At first glance, they seem fairly normal; however, if by chance you happen to read people very well and are able to see through their facade, they will do everything in their power to make you look like the crazy one. They will gossip and spread lies about you, and basically do everything in their power to assassinate your character and destroy your credibility at all costs. And for a time, most people without discernment will absolutely believe them and take their side.

But give it enough time, don't meet all their needs (good luck trying!), and eventually, all hell will break loose. The true condition of their broken, hurting hearts will be revealed. All the ugliness and poison will be unleashed, and most of the people around them won't know what hit them. 

At this point, several things can happen. First, they will try to find another broken person to enable their bad choices and destructive behaviour. If they cannot find anyone, they may high-tail it out of town and start all over again in another place where no one knows them, and thus, the cycle will begin again. In both cases, nothing will ever change because there will always be someone around to validate their victim-playing mentality.

It's a terrible predicament. The people they most want to surround themselves with, are the very people that will destroy their chances of finding healing and engaging in meaningful relationship. And the people they most fear, are the ones who would most be able to help. By demanding attention and validation, they push away the ones who actually do care for them. By demanding love, they lose all chance of ever having the real thing. 

The only way to stop the cycle is for these people to face one of their greatest fears and to be completely and utterly alone. Not in the sense that we write them off as hopeless and stop believing that God has the power to intervene. We never stop praying for that! But we do set firm boundaries to protect our hearts, our reputations, our families (and yes, even our finances!) because these individuals are not safe. We don't stay friends with them. We don't stay married to them. We don't engage in relationship with them because we cannot trust them. 

This may seem overly harsh. This may seem cruel. But it's the only way. Unless they can recognize and acknowledge the severity of their condition, there will be no room for healing and growth. Until they recognize how broken they are, they can never start the journey of becoming whole. It will be incredibly difficult, uncomfortable, and painful. It will not be pretty. Things may get much, much worse before they seem to get any better. It will take years. A lifetime of unhealthy coping mechanisms cannot be unlearned overnight. Poor choices cannot be undone. Consequences to actions will not magically disappear. Not all relationships will be repaired. But until they examine and acknowledge the root of their brokenness, they can never grow into the healthy individual they were intended to be.

For many severely broken people, the journey will be too hard. They will quit and go back to their old, familiar, more comfortable ways. But we serve a big God. And where there is God, there is hope. There is forgiveness. There is healing. I will never stop believing that He has the power to change someone, no matter how far gone they may be. But I also recognize that it is only His love that has the power to transform such broken lives. My love alone is not enough.

****This post has been swirling in my head for several months. Now that I have finally been able to get it down, I am indebted to both my discerning hubby as well as my wise pastor, who have both taught me so much about the human heart and it's need for healing and redemption.****


  1. It's funny- we were just talking about this at church the other day (a bible study on 1 John), how we are required to love others. Some people couldn't come to terms with the fact that we are required, as Christians, to love the unloveable. We (myself included!) so humanly struggle with removing emotions from love. God superhumanly loves and is able to "agape" love us- unconditionally, even if we are unloveable. And as imitators of Christ, we are supposed to try and demonstrate that. I struggle with it often! We aren't meant to love the sin, but we are meant to love the person- the person that Jesus died on the cross for. Ann Voskamp did a great blog post recently: "And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself — and this will hurt. Things of realest beauty don’t bring us glory — but HIM glory." Here's the link:
    I will pray that these hearts are softened and that superhuman love will win their hearts back. I will also pray for you, too, that your light will shine in dark places.

    1. Thank you! You're right--as imitators of Christ, we should never stop trying to love the unlovable. But sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to end a relationship. My main point was, that for some people, no human love will be able to "fix" them. God must do His work first, before any of our humanly efforts will begin to bear fruit. I hope that was clear in this post.