"God, I'm so tired of hurting. Love isn't supposed to be this difficult. I can't do this anymore."
The prayer had become second-nature. The teenage broken heart has no comfortable middle-ground between extremes. Almost ten years later, and after having nursed some adult-sized broken hearts, I've found my perspective changing on love.
Love is a bloody, smelly, wrenching thing. It demands the voluntary butchering of our most basic instinct of self-preservation. Love is a matter of weighing the options, recognizing the cost, and choosing to walk the road in humility anyway. It places no requirements on the recipient, making no demands, and shunning recognition for its sacrifice. It does not seek a name for itself. It just meekly and quietly is.
Jesus was the divine nature of God in human form, and He spoke passionately about love. His sacrifice on the cross encompassed all extremes from the height of suffering to the depth of humiliation, and all to personify the love His life had already defined. Love does not show its fullness of beauty in hazy, starry-eyed obsession. Instead, it shines in dust drinking slick drops of blood from a man writhing in agony for people who had rejected Him. Love looks like raised, red welts opening to jagged gashes on an innocent back; like deep purple bruises and bloodshot eyes. Love is a man utterly emptied of self even as His body clamored for attention. It is a man who sees the greatness of His sacrifice misunderstood and mocked even to this day, and still chooses to say, "You're worth My mercy." And it echoes in the voice of the Father as He grieves over the terror coming to a world unwilling to listen:
Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your heart. O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Jer. 4:18-19