Love isn’t supposed to hurt
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
It started off innocently enough, like a sweet dream, but then it became a horrible reality that she couldn’t escape.
He caught her eye, said all the right things, and soon they were dating. Then came the jealousy—she was paying “too much attention” to her friends or her studies, she shouldn’t wear that because it “sent the wrong message,” it was her “fault” that man smiled at her, she shouldn’t tell her parents what he said because it would “make him look bad.”
Eventually, he snuck his way into controlling every aspect of her life. Her life centered on him. Angry words soon escalated. He’d punch a wall, break a glass. The first time he hit her, he bought her roses, swore it’d never happen again.
The last time he hit her, she wound up in intensive care.
Despite what singers on the radio might want us to believe, real love—true love—isn’t supposed to hurt. But we know all too well that it can hurt. It can even kill.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is not just physical violence—black eyes and bruises. Sometimes the scars are invisible: threats, manipulation, yelling, humiliation. Sometimes it’s stalking someone online or following them wherever they go, or making them do things they don’t want to do.
And it happens all around us. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced physical, sexual, or stalking-related domestic violence during their lifetime, and more than 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These are not just headlines. This is happening every day to women—and men—all around us. People we know. People we see in our neighborhoods or in social settings.
With the vast amount of bad news we hear almost daily, it’s tempting to tune it out, rationalize it away, think it only happens to “someone else” or even turn off the news altogether. But as followers of Christ, as children of God, we cannot afford to harden or shield our hearts from tragedy. We must hear with open ears, see with eyes wide open, and do what we can to stand up and help whenever and wherever possible.
Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report reveals that, nationwide, 92% of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 62% were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Nearly 11 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.
This is not acceptable, and the Bible calls us to do something about this.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV) says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Jesus, in Matthew 25:40, says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
If you suspect someone you know is a victim, talk to her. Ask how you can help. Call the authorities. See what your church can do to get involved or whether domestic violence shelters in your area could use donations or support.
Love isn’t supposed to hurt.
As the apostle Paul writes about love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
That is love. Jesus is love.
It’s time to do what we can to help spread awareness about what real love is and stop the violence.
*NOTE: Here is a short list of resources for victims of domestic violence ...
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or visit them online at https://www.thehotline.org/
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/) offers resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence here (https://ncadv.org/resources).
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.
Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/shiningthelight.