“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis
The word “love”—along with it’s many definitions—is splattered all over the pages of the bible. You won’t have to look very hard to discover that love is patient and kind or sacrificial and selfless. But this week, the Lord has been teaching me about another way to define love that isn’t spelled out as clearly in the scriptures.
Love is… dirty.
And just to be clear, I’m not talking about the bow-chicka-wow-wow kind of love…but nice try.
This kind of love is messy and uncomfortable. It inconveniences you and it requires you to take risks. It’s a love that suffers, that gives, and that exhausts you day after day. It’s hard and time consuming—and it will most definitely cost you something. It’s also important to note that this kind of love isn’t about you—it’s about them. And to be honest, when I see opportunities to give and receive this kind of love—I prefer to yell “fire” and run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I pray for something, the Lord usually answers my prayer in a way I least expect. For example, two years ago I prayed for faith—and the Lord decided to strengthen my faith by recruiting a friend of mine to fetch and deliver my visa just hours before my flight left for South Africa. (I still haven’t fully recovered from that day’s panic attack.) Well, lately, I’ve been praying for the Lord to “teach me how to get my hands and feet dirty for His kingdom.” It’s a simple and seemingly harmless prayer that I have prayed for the past 2 years. Ever since then, God has been completely destroying my perception of what “being dirty for His kingdom” looks like. (And let me just say, it’s not what I thought.)
I’ve learned that if I want to get my hands and feet dirty for His kingdom, I must be willing to love dirty—and I’ve never stumbled across a more challenging thing in my entire life. It’s filthy and messy and beautiful all at the same time. It stings and burns and purifies like salt water on a wound. It feels like an emptying of yourself to fill someone else up…
It’s your Mom kissing you on the forehead and bringing you rainbow sorbet when you’re sick—just minutes after you’ve vomited all over her blue couch.
It’s your 80-year-old Grandparents sacrificing their time and money every single day to take care of a dying elderly woman who can barely walk, hear, or make it to the bathroom on her own.
It’s going out of your way to hug that homeless man who’s been struggling to find work—even when he smells like he hasn’t showered in over three weeks.
It’s lending a desperate friend money who won’t be able to pay you back—when you already know that you can barely afford food or petrol for the rest of the month.
It’s forgiving your abusers without ever receiving an apology.
It’s your Dad driving you to soccer practice every Tuesday and Thursday—in rush hour traffic, an hour away from home… after he’s already had a long day at work.
It’s supporting and praying for the girl in prostitution who says she wants to get out of the business—but keeps showing up on the street corner night after night like clockwork.
Love is… dirty.
Jesus was dirty. He touched people who were deemed unclean and banished by the religious people, He ate and drank at the same table with the defiled, and He loved people who would never ever love Him back. He took risks, He sacrificed, and He gave. He didn’t let inconvenience or suffering or heartache scare Him away, in fact, He chased after those things with His whole being. Jesus was willing to give up His reputation, His comfort, His family, His home, and His throne—for the sake of love. He became broken and forsaken—so we would become whole and forgiven. Jesus stopped at nothing to make sure that we knew how much we meant to Him.
Do I love like that? Most of the time—I don’t. But I want to…
1 Samuel 6:17 says, “…but the Lord looks at the heart.”
My inadequacy to love and my inability to walk in perfection won’t stop God from using me to share His perfect love with the world—nothing is too hard for Him. In fact, He loves using broken people like me, because it’s through my dents and bruises and cracks that His light shines through the brightest. It’s through the moments of pain and hurt and sacrifice when His love speaks the loudest. So if we are willing… He is able.
Let’s get dirty.