One of my favorite “guilty pleasure” pop songs to listen to is “If I Let You Go” by Westlife. Yes, it has a catchy tune but I am really intrigued by the lyrics. Here is some of it, especially the chorus! I would like to share it with you now.
“…But sooner or later I gotta choose,and once again I’m thinking abouttaking the easy way out.If I let you go I will never know,what my life would be, holding you close to me.Will I ever see you smiling back at me?How will I know if I let you go?”
Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I think the lyrics speak volume of what it means to love. Often times, I hear too many different interpretations and explanations of love from young people, but they all seem to lack quality and substance. Those interpretations and explanations range from the extremes of either being very self-centered or having the detrimental desire to do everything to “change” or save the other person “because I love him/her.” I understand our desire to love, but most of the time, I believe not many people really understand and know what love truly is.
We often times come into a relationship with the best intention, hoping for the best, but we often times also get caught up or give up too easily because of the bad Hollywood portrayal and condition placed on love. It is sad to see that there had been too many people who walked away from a meaningful relationship when they encountered an emotional or relational roadblock, thinking that their love for one another is gone. I had witnessed so many cases that the reality makes me worry about our post-modern understanding of love. Is it true that we can really walk away from someone when the initial feelings are gone, the puppy love or idealistic stage is over, or when it gets too hard?
Many people walk away from a relationship because the “flame” is no longer there or because it has become too tough to love the other person. The typical error that many young people tend to fall into is thinking that love is defined by physical intimacy, driven by feelings and emotions. Even though the relationship can start out strong, it is inevitable that it will meet the necessary obstacles in order to grow to another stage. While it is very easy to give up when the original sensual or psychological attraction go away, true love is found in consistency and faithfulness, not with the constant ups and downs nor from initial attractions. In this day and age, it seems too easy to give up when one approaches the first breaking point, walking way instead of taking a leap of faith and trust in one another. However, just like the song lyrics indicated: “But if I let you go, I will never know. What my life would be holding you close to me! Will I ever see you smiling back at me? How will I know if I let you go?”
At every roadblock, obstacle, and challenge, we are invited and are called to learn to love and be intimate in new ways. True intimacy is deeper than the surface feelings or emotions, for it requires us to be vulnerable, genuine, open, and trust the other person even though we might not feel inclined to at the time. While it is easy to walk away, it is harder — and, ultimately, rewarding — to stay and learn to love in new ways. Even the lyrics affirmed this reality as one gets tempted to take the easy way out! Nevertheless, while it hurts and is challenging to stay in the midst of the storm and with the struggles of loving someone, it is a valuable lesson that love is much more than what meets the eye, what can be sensed or felt, what can be beneficial or understood at the moment.
To be loved is to inevitably be hurt as both sides learn to embrace and love one another through the tough times as well as to love each other in new ways when their old concept of what it means to love is gone. I had written an article about reconciliation and forgiveness in the past that might be beneficial for you and your loved ones.
No matter what, it is important to realize that our love for one another has to be grounded and enriched by Christ as we learn to pray and care for each other just as He has loved us. Relationships are bound to fail and run dry when they are not Christocentric as the couples forget to learn to love, forgive, and embrace each other just as Christ has loved and forgiven us. We can only learn to love the other person when we learn to care for them beyond the apparent feelings and emotions at the time. We will never grow deeper in love if we choose to walk away or when it gets tough. Of course, I am not talking about toxic, destructive, codependent and unhealthy relationships, for that is another topic! However, the pains that we are going through in our different growth periods will empower and strengthen us to truly love one another deeply as we learn to be more grounded in our commitment and faithfulness to one another — beyond the apparent (challenging) matters at hand. Saint Paul reminded us of this reality in his letter to the Romans:
He spoke of this in a humanly and faith-centered way as we embrace the present struggles for the love of Christ. For couples who are struggling to love one another in their present trials, do not let the growing pains make you lose focus on the joy of loving one another through Christ. The loss of focus on the true joy and love can happen very easily as we focus on the mistakes, what has not been done, or what should be done. Remember, this is the same person that we fell in love with! Even though things might change a little bit or the present trials might make them or us lose focus on the original flame of love, this is still the same person. Therefore, it is important to not lose focus on the original joy and love for the person in the midst of our life and relationship’s challenges.
Like a cactus that has to learn to adapt in a harsh, water-less environment, we also have to learn to store up the original water of loving care in good times as to prepare to hold on to it through the tougher times. Just as a cactus that learns to grow deep roots to collect water, we learn to deepen our own faith-filled roots in Christ as to draw nourishment to love and be faithful to our dear ones when times get tough. The cactus can teach us much as it is able to survive and flourish even in the toughest environments. Even in our life’s tough challenges, like walking through the desert and passing through the dark storms, let us not give up but learn to grow, take deeper roots in Christ, and store up the much-needed love for one another in the present trials.
Let us not give up just yet! Let us learn to persevere in the trials, the hurts and with their pains and sufferings, by learning to love the other person through personal commitment and faithfulness. Even though it seems very hard now, the wonderful grace of God will strengthen us and the reward resulted from the trials will enrich us beyond ways that we can understand or comprehend now. Truly, there is a beautiful, unexplainable grace in the midst of our daily decisions to love, even if it hurts us now. “And once again, I’m thinking about taking the easy way out. But if I let you go, I will never know. What my life would be holding you close to me! Will I ever see you smiling back at me? How will I know if I let you go?”